Iron-Rich Foods

If you are going to donate blood beforehand, and to minimize the necessity for transfusion, it is necessary to increase iron intake both before and after the surgery. We try to avoid iron tablets as they are quite constipating. A diet that includes foods that are high in iron is sufficient. The following is a partial list of foods that contain larger amounts of iron.

Top Ten Iron-Rich Foods

  • clams, cooked, 3 oz (23.8 mg)
  • tofu, 1/2 cup firm (13.2 mg)
  • raisin bran, ready-to-eat, 3/4 cup (4.5 mg)
  • sirloin steak, cooked, 3 oz (2.9 mg)
  • shrimp, cooked, 3 oz (2.6 mg)
  • black beans, boiled, 1/2 cup (1.8 mg)
  • chickpeas, canned, 1/2 cup (1.6 mg)
  • turkey breast, 3 oz (0.9 mg)
  • bread, whole wheat, 1 slice (0.9 mg)
  • chicken breast, skinless, 1/2 breast (0.9 mg)

**** Spinach is NOT a good source of iron. Spinach contains about as much iron as any green vegetable, but it also contains oxalic acid which blocks about 90% of the iron from being absorbed.

Iron-Rich Foods for Blood Donors

In order to help maintain adequate blood iron levels throughout autologous and directed donations, donors should eat foods high in iron. The following list gives the iron content of selected foods.

Food Serving Size Iron Content (mg)
Cereal, ready to eat, fortified 1 cup 1 to 16
Clams, canned 1/4 cup 11.2
Beef liver, fried 3 oz 5.3
Braunschweiger 2 oz 5.3
Molasses, blackstrap 1 tablespoon 5.0
Baked Beans 1 cup 5.0
Oysters, cooked 1 oz 3.8
Baked potato, with skin 1 2.8
Soup, lentil and ham 1 cup 2.6
Burrito, bean 1 2.5
Soup, beef noodle 1 cup 2.4
Rice, white, enriched 1 cup 2.3
Pop-Tart, fortified 1 2.2
Ground beef, lean 3 oz 1.8
Apricots, dried halves 10 1.7
Spinach, frozen 1/2 cup (fresh=1 cup) 1.5
Bread, whole wheat 1 slice 1.2
Broccoli, fresh cooked 1/2 cup 0.7
Egg 1 0.7

Also, Vitamin C enhances iron absorption from plant sources, so it is a good idea to drink orange juice with iron-rich foods. Keep in mind that drinking tea with meals can act as an iron blocker. Other iron blockers include carbonates, oxalates, and phosphates. Foods that contain these iron blockers include cranberries, rhubarb, spinach, and soda.

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