Foods to Increase Iron Intake and Iron Absorption

Elemental Iron, mg
Commercial baby food,a heme iron
        Baby food, lamb, junior, 1 jar (2.5 oz)1.2
        Baby food, chicken, strained, 1 jar (2.5 oz)1.0
        Baby food, lamb, strained, 1 jar (2.5 oz)0.8
        Baby food, beef, junior, 1 jar (2.5 oz)0.7
        Baby food, beef, strained, 1 jar (2.5 oz)0.7
        Baby food, chicken, junior, 1 jar (2.5 oz)0.7
        Baby food, pork, strained, 1 jar (2.5 oz)0.7
        Baby food, ham, strained, 1 jar (2.5 oz)0.7
        Baby food, ham, junior, 1 jar (2.5 oz)0.7
        Baby food, turkey, strained, 1 jar (2.5 oz)0.5
        Baby food, veal, strained, 1 jar (2.5 oz)0.5
Commercial baby food,a nonheme iron
        Baby food, green beans, junior, 1 jar (6 oz)1.8
        Baby food, peas, strained, 1 jar (3.4 oz)0.9
        Baby food, green beans, strained, 1 jar (4 oz)0.8
        Baby food, spinach, creamed, strained, 1 jar (4 oz)0.7
        Baby food, sweet potatoes, junior (6 oz)0.7
        Baby food, brown rice cereal, dry, instant, 1 tbsp1.8
        Baby food, oatmeal cereal, dry, 1 tbsp1.6
        Baby food, rice cereal, dry, 1 tbsp1.2
        Baby food, barley cereal, dry, 1 tbsp1.1
    Table food, heme iron
        Clams, canned, drained solids, 3 oz23.8
        Chicken liver, cooked, simmered, 3 oz9.9
        Oysters, Eastern canned, 3 oz5.7
        Beef liver, cooked, braised, 3 oz5.6
        Shrimp, cooked moist heat, 3 oz2.6
        Beef, composite of trimmed cuts, lean only, all grades, cooked, 3 oz2.5
        Sardines, Atlantic, canned in oil, drained solids with bone, 3 oz2.5
        Turkey, all classes, dark meat, roasted, 3 oz2.0
        Lamb, domestic, composite of trimmed retail cuts, separable lean only, choice, cooked, 3 oz1.7
        Fish, tuna, light, canned in water, drained solids, 3 oz1.3
        Chicken, broiler or fryer, dark meat, roasted, 3 oz1.1
        Turkey, all classes, light meat, roasted, 3 oz1.1
        Veal, composite of trimmed cuts, lean only, cooked, 3 oz1.0
        Chicken, broiler or fryer, breast, roasted, 3 oz0.9
        Pork, composite of trimmed cuts (leg, loin, shoulder), lean only, cooked, 3 oz0.9
        Fish, salmon, pink, cooked, 3 oz0.8
Table food, nonheme iron
    Oatmeal, instant, fortified, cooked, 1 cup14.0
    Blackstrap molasses,b 2 tbsp7.4
    Tofu, raw, regular, ½ cup6.7
    Wheat germ, toasted, ½ cup5.1
    Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified at different levels, 1 cup∼4.5 to 18
    Soybeans, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, ½ cup4.4
    Apricots, dehydrated (low-moisture), uncooked, ½ cup3.8
    Sunflower seeds, dried, ½ cup3.7
    Lentils, mature seeds, cooked, ½ cup3.3
    Spinach, cooked, boiled, drained, ½ cup3.2
    Chickpeas, mature seeds, cooked, ½ cup2.4
    Prunes, dehydrated (low-moisture), uncooked, ½ cup2.3
    Lima beans, large, mature seeds, cooked, ½ cup2.2
    Navy beans, mature seeds, cooked, ½ cup2.2
    Kidney beans, all types, mature seeds, cooked, ½ cup2.0
    Molasses, 2 tbsp1.9
    Pinto beans, mature seeds, cooked, ½ cup1.8
    Raisins, seedless, packed, ½ cup1.6
    Prunes, dehydrated (low moisture), stewed, ½ cup1.6
    Prune juice, canned, 4 fl oz1.5
    Green peas, cooked, boiled, drain, ½ cup1.2
    Enriched white rice, long-grain, regular, cooked, ½ cup1.0
    Whole egg, cooked (fried or poached), 1 large egg0.9
    Enriched spaghetti, cooked, ½ cup0.9
    White bread, commercially prepared, 1 slice0.9
    Whole-wheat bread, commercially prepared, 1 slice0.7
    Spaghetti or macaroni, whole wheat, cooked, ½ cup0.7
    Peanut butter, smooth style, 2 tbsp0.6
    Brown rice, medium-grain, cooked, ½ cup0.5
  • Note that all figures are rounded.

  • a Baby food values are generally based on generic jar, not branded jar; 3 oz of table-food meat = 85 g; a 2.5-oz jar of baby food = 71 g (an infant would not be expected to eat 3 oz [approximately the size of a deck of cards] of pureed table meat at a meal).

  • b Source of iron value was obtained from a manufacturer of this type of molasses.

  • Source of iron values in foods: US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 20: Nutrient Data Laboratory home page. Available at: