30 Iron-Rich Foods to Fight Fatigue and Headaches

Calcium prevents the absorption of iron, so in order to get the optimum amounts of both of these nutrients, it’s important to learn to combine them correctly.
30 Iron-Rich Foods to Fight Fatigue and Headaches
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 11 June, 2022

When your heart doesn’t get enough oxygen, it is forced to work harder, making that fatigue even more pronounced. But if you remind yourself to ensure you’re getting enough iron-rich foods in your diet you can avoid that annoying anemia that’s all too typical for us women.

If you’ve ever been diagnosed with anemia, you know what the usual symptoms of iron deficiency are and how the lack of this mineral can affect your everyday life: fatigue, weakness, headaches, irritability, hair loss…

It’s easy to forget that iron is the mineral that allows your blood to carry oxygen to your organs so they can function properly, and when you don’t have enough of it, you experience that typical exhaustion that you might ignore at first, but little by little it leaves you feeling weak and tired.

We invite you to learn more in today’s article. It’s very beneficial for your health!

The importance of knowing how to combine iron-rich foods

Nuts and dried fruits

According to the Spanish Nutrition Society, there are many foods that are rich in iron, but you have to know how to combine them in a balanced and diverse diet to maintain the levels that your body needs. In women, remember that iron is also lost during menstruation.

Interestingly, your body absorbs iron through your small intestine and the process is always quicker on an empty stomach. However, there are certain foods that can prevent iron from being properly absorbed, so you need to be careful how you combine them.

The following foods are best kept separate from your iron-rich food intake:

  • Tea
  • Bran
  • Oats
  • Soy milk
  • Cow’s milk

This doesn’t mean you have to cut these from your diet entirely – just give your body time to absorb iron from other foods. That means, for breakfast, you can enjoy your tea and a bowl of oatmeal, and for lunch, try making a delicious spinach salad with walnuts and asparagus.

Read also:

5 Healthy Spinach Recipes to Enjoy Every Day

Watch out for calcium, polyphenols, and phytic acid

Foods that contain phytic acid prevent the absorption of iron. This includes, for example, wheat flour, which can keep you from absorbing up to 75% of this important mineral. And the polyphenols that are contained in tea are one of the worst inhibitors for iron absorption.

The way calcium works in your body is also very complex. While women, above all, need this essential mineral for bone health, consumption of calcium blocks the uptake of iron by the cells that line your small intestine. So the real trick is learning how to combine your foods.

You could prepare a breakfast that’s rich in fiber and calcium, as we said above, and then for lunch or dinner up your intake of iron and vitamin C. As some of you already know, citrus fruits help your body absorb this mineral more readily.

Let’s see what the most iron-rich foods are that you should be including in your diet.

Foods that are rich in iron and fight anemia

Spinach salad

Probably the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about iron-rich foods is lentils. While this little legume is certainly excellent as a supplement to help fight anemia, you can enhance its benefits even more by learning to prepare diverse recipes.

There are spices, vegetables, and fruits that will help you elevate your iron intake even more, and we’ll add in vitamin C to speed up the absorption of this mineral by your small intestine.

That way it will keep your meals from being “boring:” for example, try having broccoli or spinach with shrimp and raisins, pine nuts, and pineapple… or turkey breast with mustard on a sandwich… there are hundreds of great ways you can enjoy your food and take care of your health at the same time.

Pay attention to this long list of iron-rich foods:

  • Clams
  • Broccoli
  • Prawns
  • Peppers
  • Thyme
  • Bay leaf
  • Parsley
  • Spinach
  • Chickpeas
  • Endive
  • Arugula
  • Mustard
  • Cumin
  • Dill
  • Dried oregano
  • Red meat
  • Basil
  • Pate
  • Cinnamon
  • Chili powder
  • Curry
  • Rosemary
  • Black pepper
  • Canned sardines
  • Lentils
  • Paprika
  • Corn
  • Roasted turkey
  • Sausage
  • White pepper
  • Scallops
  • Egg whites
  • Figs
  • Plums
  • Dark chocolate
  • Oranges
Glass of orange juice

We recommend that after each meal you enjoy a rich fruit salad for dessert, which will give you the vitamin C you need through oranges, kiwis, papaya, or mango. You can also combine these with your meals or make them into smoothies.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.