Easy-To-Digest Foods That Are High In Iron

1
How Much Iron Do You Need?

Two grilled chicken legs, green onion, dill and lime on wooden board viewed from above
Finding foods that are high in iron and are also easy on the digestive tract might seem a difficult task. There are, however, several good choices to get more dietary iron without taxing the digestive system. istetiana/Moment/Getty

Iron is a vital mineral that is essential for the creation of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that facilitates the transport of oxygen to the cells in the body. People who do not have enough iron in their diet, and therefore not enough hemoglobin, may develop anemia.

Anemia is a very common condition, and it may be especially problematic for people with digestive diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and celiac disease. People with IBD may not only have problems in getting enough iron in their diet and absorbing that iron, but also with bleeding that may increase the risk of anemia.

Therefore, it is crucial that people with IBD get enough iron in their diet. Vegetable sources of iron are known as "non-heme" iron, and animal sources of iron are known as "heme" iron. Heme iron is generally easier to absorb than non-heme iron. Eating vitamin C along with an iron source may help the iron be absorbed and used easier by the body.

For people with IBD, or who have an ostomy or a j-pouch and who are dealing with a restricted diet, getting iron-rich foods that are also easy to digest can be a challenge. The good news is that once you know where to find it, getting enough iron can be less of a chore and more of a pleasure as you explore foods that are good sources of iron and that are also easier to digest.

2
Turkey

Turkey And Cranberry
Turkey cutlets can be paired with so many other foods, with delicious results, and can be a way to get more dietary iron. Image © David Roth / Photodisc / Getty Images

In the United States, turkey is often though of as the meat that's served on Thanksgiving. It's often reserved for other holidays, too, or for a big Sunday dinner. Turkey, however, is a great source of iron, providing 1.6 mg of iron for every serving of 3.5 ounces. One doesn't have to cook an entire turkey, though, to enjoy the benefits, because turkey cutlets are usually also available at the grocery store or the butcher. However, keep in mind that there is a benefit to the work of cooking the entire turkey: the dark meat may provide even more iron than the light meat. 

Turkey lunch meat has less iron, around 1.1 mg per serving of about 1.7 ounces. However, lunch meat is easier to come by and is a quick item that can be eaten right out of the package. Go for a high-quality deli cut, and beware of brands that contain added sugars, colors, salt, or other additives. 

Other nutritional benefits to turkey include vitamin B12, vitamin B6, magnesium, and protein. It's also low in fat, and is an easy to digest form of protein.

3
Chicken

Chicken And Citrus
The great thing about chicken is that you can cook it with almost anything and wind up with a great-tasting dish. Chicken is also a good source of iron that is easier to digest. Image © Philip Wilkins / Photolibrary / Getty Images

Chicken is versatile, easy to come by, and can be a way to get more iron into your diet. One 3-ounce serving of chicken contains about .7 mg of iron. The beauty of chicken is that it is relatively inexpensive and vastly versatile. There are no shortage of recipes for cooking chicken, so keeping it interesting doesn't take much research. Keeping it simple is easy: roasted chicken without any additions or flavorings can be done using just your oven or slow cooker. Take it one step further and use the leftover bones from a roasted chicken to make chicken stock (bone broth) to drink while on a liquid diet, or to add flavoring to rice by using broth instead of water when cooking.

Not just a good source of iron, chicken also contains many other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, vitamin B12, magnesium, and potassium.

4
Tuna

Tuna
A can of tuna might seem like a less-than-nutritious meal because it comes from a can, but it is a good source of iron and other nutrients. Image © ALEAIMAGE / Getty Images

Canned tuna is easy to find, easy to eat, and can be served in a variety of ways. One 3 ounce serving of tuna, packed in water and straight out of the can, has about .8 mg of iron. Tuna can be eaten plain, which makes it for an easy, quick meal, but it could also be made into endless varieties of tuna salads or served with crackers. Tuna is a food that is higher in sodium, which can be a concern for those who are trying to keep their sodium intake low, but that factor can be mitigated by eating low sodium foods for the rest of the day.

5
Breakfast Cereal

Corn Flakes
What's great about breakfast cereals? They're high in iron and you can eat them any time of day. We won't tell. Image © Image Source / Getty Images

Many people might think of breakfast cereals as a staple for children, but not for adults. However, most cereals are fortified with iron and can be a very quick and easy breakfast (or other meal). The trick for people experiencing digestive problems is to find one that is lower in fiber. Corn and rice-based cereals rather than wheat, bran, or oatmeal-based cereals may be easier to digest. The amount of iron in any one particular brand of breakfast cereal will vary. One cup of generic corn flakes may provide about 8 mg of iron, which is 45% of the recommended daily value for most women and 100% for most men. A rice-based cereal may contain about 9 mg of iron, which is about 50% of the daily value for most women and 100% for most men. 

Breakfast cereal can also be a wealth of other vitamins and minerals that people with IBD might not get enough of in their diet, including vitamin A, vitamin D, folate, calcium, and zinc.

Source:

Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc : a Report of the Panel on Micronutrientsexternal link icon. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2001. Available at: http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10026&page=R1

Continue Reading