Meal plans

Adding iron-rich foods to the diet can help to treat anemia. A doctor can advise about the kinds of foods to choose from and other ways to increase iron absorption.

The best diet for a person with anemia includes plenty of foods rich in iron and other foods that help the body to absorb iron. A person should also be aware of foods that can inhibit iron absorption.

The plan below was developed to show what healthful meals for a person with anemia might include: 


  • Option 1: Iron-fortified cereal and a glass of iron-fortified orange juice.
  • Option 2: Strawberries with low-fat yoghurt and a handful of pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
  • Tea and coffee inhibit iron absorption, and people should not drink them with meals.



  • Option 1: A sandwich with roast beef and watercress on iron-enriched bread.
  • Option 2: A bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and spinach.



  •  Option 1: Lamb chops with boiled potatoes, steamed broccoli, and curly kale.
  • Option 2: A stew that includes kidney beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, tinned tomatoes, onions, red peppers, and garlic, topped with vegan or dairy-based cheese and a dollop of yogurt.



Tips for getting more iron in the diet


If a person has tried changing their diet and their levels of iron remain low, they should speak with a doctor or dietician, who may recommend a supplement.

Doctors often recommend choosing a supplement containing ferrous salts such as ferrous fumarate, ferrous gluconate, or ferrous sulfate. These formulations all contain anywhere from 15–106 mg of elemental iron in a tablet or oral solution.



People with iron-deficiency anemia can benefit from adding iron-rich food to their diet. The foods and strategies listed above can help a person to manage the condition. 

Eating certain dark, leafy greens, seafood, beans, nuts, and seeds can help a person to boost their iron intake. It may also be a good idea to use a cast-iron skillet, and cooking meals for shorter periods, when possible. 

Iron supplements can benefit people who do not receive enough iron from their diets. It is essential to follow the dosage instructions carefully. An excess of iron can cause iron toxicity.  This can be dangerous as well as fatal in rare conditions.