Nutrition, Wellness

Beef isn’t necessarily the best source of iron


Iron is one of those super-important yet hard-to-get nutrients that can make a huge difference in how you feel day to day. By helping to deliver fresh oxygen to your blood, iron kicks up your mental energy, helps you power through cycling classes, and can even prevent workout-induced muscle soreness.

The USDA recommends that women aim for 18 milligrams per day of this nutrient. And while you may think a grilled tenderloin is the best way to get it, there are actually way better sources; in fact, a three-ounce cut clocks in a relatively anemic 2.75 milligrams of iron. These five options beat beef and have other nutrients to boot:

Kidney Beans

These legumes have four milligrams of iron per cup—along with 225 calories, zero grams of fat, and an incredible 40 grams of protein. Use them them in salads or as an unlikely stir-fry ingredient.


A three-ounce serving clocks in at 6.7 milligrams of iron—more than a third the amount you need per day. Oysters pack some protein and other minerals, too, like zinc. Sounds like a good reason to slurp a few down next time you’re dining by the water.

Sesame Seeds

Each quarter cup of these nutty, crunchy seeds has 5.2 milligrams of iron. Add them in to your next chopped salad or granola mix—or use them as a topping on almost any savory dish (particularly Asian-inspired ones). Just beware that they’re high in fat—each quarter cup contains about 17 grams.


Besides tasting great and going with everything, one satiating cup of cooked lentils gives you 6.59 milligrams of iron. That’s in addition to 50 grams of complex carbs and 18 grams of protein.


You already know this is an iron superstar, but we couldn’t leave it off the list because it really is so high in this mineral: One cup of cooked spinach has 6.4 milligrams—for just 40 calories.

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