49+ Best Iron-Rich Foods for Pregnancy [+9 Easy Meals]

iron rich pregnancy foods like oats and chocolate for pregnancy

January 9, 2020 | Exercise & Nutrition

Today, we’re not only sharing the ultimate list of natural iron-rich foods for pregnancy, but some delicious and simple iron-rich meals for pregnancy, too!  Perfect for meal planning, grocery shopping or hanging up on your fridge, we’ve also created this super handy printable PDF list of our favourite iron-rich foods for pregnancy, too!

Let’s dive in…printable iron rich food list

Why is Iron Important During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, mama isn’t only fuelling her own needs any longer, but baby’s too. Because baby requires a good dose of oxygen and blood for healthy development, it’s important that mom’s blood is iron-rich enough to support those needs.

Christal Sczebel, Edmonton-based Certified Nutritional Consultant and Food Blogger of Nutrition in the Kitch, explains the important of iron rich foods for pregnancy,

“Iron is critical for fetal development and adequate iron is key in helping to prevent premature birth and low birth weight. It’s important to note as well, that active women are at a higher risk of deficiency.”

Iron Rich Foods for Pregnancy

So, what are the best foods that are rich in iron for pregnancy? 

From spinach to dark chocolate and from octopus to hazelnuts, here are our favourite choices for natural foods high in iron, perfect for pregnancy.

Iron-Rich Meat & Poultry

  • Beef – whether you prefer meatballs, steak or rouladen – there are many ways to enjoy beef. 
  • Moose – take a peek below to see a wonderful moose stew recipe that’ll do the trick.
  • Venison – try mixing lean venison with another meat like beef in your next beef-based dish.
  • Veal – beef, veal and pork have been called the perfect trio for meatballs, so why not try a new meatball recipe? That’s a spicy meat-a-ball!
  • Lamb  – whether you opt for ground lamb, a slow roasted lamb shank or lamb chops, there are many options for this iron-rich food.
  • Ham – why not add ham to a thinly sliced on a breakfast sandwich, with a side of eggs or added to a quiche or frittata?
  • Chicken – try grilling some boneless skinless chicken thighs and brushing them with your favourite bbq sauce, baking them in the oven with lemon and garlic or trying a new stuffed chicken recipe.

Iron-Rich Fish & Seafood

  • Halibut  – try oven roasting your halibut for a great iron-rich meal paired with some leafy greens.
  • Haddock – try crispy baked haddock or lemon-butter roasted haddock to change things up.
  • Salmon – make your own power bowl with salmon, brown rice and broccoli for dinner tonight!
  • Tuna – tuna is a great, cheap source of iron that can fit any budget.
  • Octopus – this option is perhaps for the more brave of us – but still rich in iron.
  • Clams  – steamed clams are a nice iron-rich treat.
  • Mussels – why not try a seafood chowder?
  • Oysters  – canned oysters are an affordable seafood option rich in iron. 
  • Sardines –  feeling brave? Add sardines to your next pizza!

Iron-Rich Vegan & Vegetarian Foods

  • Extra Firm Tofu – try sautéeing some extra firm tofu on high heat and lightly tossing in your favourite Asian-inspired sauce. Be sure to soak up all the moisture from your tofu by pressing it between paper towel before preparing it to ensure it soaks up all of the flavour of the dish you add it to.
  • Cannellini Beans – try a delicious Italian-inspired dish like the Pasta E Fagioli recipe we’ve included below.
  • Chickpeas  – chickpeas are a very mildly flavoured member of the legume family and can be used to make homemade hummus or added to soup or salad.
  • Black Beans  – add a handful of black beans to your tacos for your next Taco Tuesday.
  • Baked Beans  – try a side of baked beans with your next meal such as pulled pork or sausage. 
  • Kidney Beans – classic chili is always a great go-to for kidney beans.
  • Lentils – lentils are an all-around nutritional powerhouse and great source of vegetarian and vegan iron. Try a lentil soup or chili recipe for your next meal!

 

Iron-Rich Vegetables

  • Asparagus – diced asparagus is delicious when added to omelettes – especially with a sprinkle of strong cheese like parmesan or gouda.
  • Snow Peas – add snow peas to your next stir-fry or salad for a delicious, iron-rich addition.
  • Beets – try roasting a few beets, dicing them and storing them in the fridge, then adding them to your next salad or lunch bowl.
  • Leafy Greens like Kale and Spinach – try adding more salads into your diet and venture beyond the lighter lettuces such as iceberg and romaine to incorporate darker, richer greens such as baby kale, swiss chard and spinach.
  • Broccoli – two words: cheesy. broccoli.
  • Edamame – try steaming some shelled edamame beans (found in the frozen section of the grocery store) and adding them to your next salad or rice bowl for a delightful texture, or fry up some edamame pods and toss gently in your favourite seasoning or sauce.
  • Tomato Puree – concentrated tomato purees are often added to homemade pasta sauces, homemade lasagna or rich chili recipes.

Iron-Rich Starches

  • Potatoes (skin on) – roast up some potatoes as a side for your meal or try a healthy potato salad. 
  • Instant Oatmeal – try adding some fresh fruit like banana or berries, a handful of iron-rich nuts and seeds (below) or some natural almond or cashew butter to a bowl of plain oatmeal.
  • Brown Rice – not a fan? Try swapping out a quarter of the white rice you’d normally have on your plate with brown, then the next week, try a blend of half and half until your palate gets more used to the heartier flavour of brown rice.

Iron-Rich Nuts and Seeds

  • Pumpkin Seeds  – add a few spoonfuls of raw, shelled pumpkin seeds – also known as pepitas – to your bowl of oatmeal, overnight oats or chia pudding for a wonderful iron boost.
  • Sunflower Seeds –  try tossing a few shelled sunflower seeds into your next leafy green salad for some added crunch.
  • Sesame Seeds – try adding a few tablespoons of black or white sesame seeds to a simple stir-fry or another Asian-inspired meal.
  • Hemp Hearts – hemp hearts are similar nutritionally to both flax and chia seeds, but have a much lighter and neutral taste. They’re great when added to smoothies, yogurt and oatmeal, and almost even go undetected! 
  • Pistachios – the perfect portable snack, opt for the unsalted version.
  • Cashews – try some natural, raw almonds (not roasted or salted) for the most nutritional punch,  
  • Almonds – when eaten in moderation, a few chocolate-covered almonds make for a great night-time snack or afternoon pick-me up. Look for the dark chocolate version in your grocery’s natural foods section for an added nutritional boost.
  • Hazelnuts  – crushed hazelnuts are a delicious addition to many Italian cream-based pasta dishes such as ravioli – simply sprinkle on top. 

Related

5 Simple Must-Have Healthy Foods for Pregnancy

10 Little-Known Benefits of Exercising While You’re Pregnant

Iron-Rich Nuts and Seeds

  • Pumpkin Seeds  – add a few spoonfuls of raw, shelled pumpkin seeds – also known as pepitas – to your bowl of oatmeal, overnight oats or chia pudding for a wonderful iron boost.
  • Sunflower Seeds –  try tossing a few shelled sunflower seeds into your next leafy green salad for some added crunch.
  • Sesame Seeds – try adding a few tablespoons of black or white sesame seeds to a simple stir-fry or another Asian-inspired meal.
  • Hemp Hearts – hemp hearts are similar nutritionally to both flax and chia seeds, but have a much lighter and neutral taste. They’re great when added to smoothies, yogurt and oatmeal, and almost even go undetected! 
  • Pistachios – the perfect portable snack, opt for the unsalted version.
  • Cashews – try some natural, raw almonds (not roasted or salted) for the most nutritional punch,  
  • Almonds – when eaten in moderation, a few chocolate-covered almonds make for a great night-time snack or afternoon pick-me up. Look for the dark chocolate version in your grocery’s natural foods section for an added nutritional boost.
  • Hazelnuts  – crushed hazelnuts are a delicious addition to many Italian cream-based pasta dishes such as ravioli – simply sprinkle on top. 

Miscellaneous Iron-Rich Foods

  • Wheat Germ – add wheat germ to your muffins, baking or oatmeal.
  • Amaranth – try substituting a warm bowl of amaranth for oatmeal at breakfast next time.
  • Dark Chocolate – within moderation, dark chocolate is a delicious and easy snack. Try to opt for at least 60-70% dark.
  • Dried Apricots – dried apricots are delicious when added to a trail mix or paired with fresh cheese.
  • Molasses – the warming flavour of molasses is great in cozy baked goods, like some of the recipes we suggest below.

Iron-Rich Organ Meats

  • Pork Liver*
  • Lamb Kidney*
  • Beef Kidney*

*Pregnant women should limit the amount of liver they eat to 1 serving every two weeks.

Iron-Rich Meals & Snacks for Pregnancy

Hearty Lentil, Kale & Potato Soup

Meal: Lunch or Dinner

This healthy lentil soup is packed with fiber, protein and is a great iron-rich meal for vegetarians that’s easy to make! Grab the recipe from Hummusapien.

Iron-Rich Foods Featured: lentils, potato, kale

General Tso’s Tofu Stir-Fry

General Tso’s Tofu Stir-Fry

Meal: Lunch or Dinner

Looking for a deliciously sticky, sweet and crispy meal that’s not only vegetarian, but packed with iron, too? Then Minimalist Baker’s General Tso’s Stir-Fry is a must-try for you.

Iron-Rich Foods Featured: extra firm tofu, sesame oil, sesame seeds and rich greens (broccoli)

Instant Pot Moose Stew

Meal: Lunch or Dinner

Try Girl Heart Food’s easy Moose Stew Recipe today! While you’ll notice this recipe does include a small amount of red wine, the alcohol content of wine cooks off during the cooking process. If you’d still like to omit it, simply substitute in a bit more beef broth instead.

Iron-Rich Foods Featured: moose, puréed tomatoes, potatoes

Classic Borscht (Beet Soup)

Meal: Lunch or Dinner

A Ukrainian and Polish classic, this healthy Beet Soup Recipe by Natasha’s Kitchen makes a great homey meal for the colder months of the year. Bonus tip: make a double batch and freeze individual servings for a quick and easy meal.

Iron-Rich Foods Featured: beets, potatoes, cannellini beans

Easy Healthy Meat Lasagna

Meal: Lunch or Dinner

Comfort food at it’s finest… with iron! This delicious lasagna recipe by Home & Plate is made from a few simple ingredients.

Iron-Rich Foods Featured: beef, veal, spinach, pureed tomatoes

Grandma’s Healthy Bran Muffins

Grandma’s Healthy Bran Muffins

Meal: Breakfast or Snack

These delicious and easy muffins can be made with either raisins or blueberries and use applesauce to keep them moist and make for a great iron-rich snack. Grab the recipe from Ambitious Kitchen.

Iron-Rich Foods Featured: wheat germ, molasses

iron rich foods pre
No Bake Apricot Oat Protein Bars

Pasta E Fagiolio Soup

Meal: Lunch or Dinner

This delicious, wholesome soup is an Italian classic and includes Italian sausage, a rich broth and hearty beans and will warm you to your centre. Try this Pasta E Fagioli recipe from AllRecipes.

Iron-Rich Foods Featured: puréed tomatoes, cannellini beans, dark leafy greens (swiss chard)

No Bake Apricot Oat Protein Bars

Meal: Breakfast or Snack

Dried apricots, fibre, iron-rich oats, and our friend, dark chocolate, come together for this healthy snack that’s quick and easy to whip up.

Who knew iron could be so delicious? Grab the recipe from Cotter Crunch

Iron-Rich Foods Featured: oats, apricots, dark chocolate

Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

Meal: Dessert

Gimme Some Oven’s famous Chewy Ginger Molasses cookies are oh-so-tasty, super simple to whip up and make for a nice occasional treat.

Iron-Rich Foods Featured: molasses

Black Bean Brownie Muffins

Black Bean Brownie Muffins

Meal: Snack or Dessert

These delicious, chocolatey, rich treats are packed with black beans and dark chocolate, both of which pack a great iron rich punch!

Head on over to Ambitious Kitchen for this iron rich recipe for pregnancy.

Iron-Rich Foods Featured: black beans, dark chocolate

Oatmeal Almond Butter Breakfast Cookies

Did you ever think upping your iron for pregnancy could taste so good?

These healthy breakfast cookies incorporate iron-rich baking ingredients including wheat germ, oats, and almond butter. Swap out the regular chocolate chips for dark chocolate chips that are at least 50-70% cocoa to up the ante.

Try this iron rich recipe for pregnancy over at Simply Recipes.

almond chocolate cookies iron rich for pregnancy
Oatmeal Almond Butter Breakfast Cookies

Edmonton Pregnancy Support

Pregnancy Care Centre offers education, counselling and support for women and their partners facing unplanned pregnancy in Edmonton, Alberta.

Learn more about our unplanned pregnancy counselling services or get in touch with us to talk with one of our caring and compassionate team members today.

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