Anemia – do you know that 25% of the world’s population suffers with anaemia? Why? Well, mainly it’s down to a deficiency of one or more nutrients, mainly iron. Red meat is a good iron-rich food, but non-meat eaters needn’t despair – iron is incredibly common in the plant-food world too.

What is anaemia?

Anaemia is a condition in which your body produces too few red blood cells or each cell contains too little haemoglobin, which helps carry and store oxygen in the body. The most common form of the condition is caused by having too little iron in your body. This can occur because of other conditions, bleeding and low consumption of dietary iron – the mineral responsible for the creation of haemoglobin.

[message type=”custom” width=”100%” start_color=”#FEFEFE” end_color=”#E0F2C0″ border=”#A0CF4C” color=”#4F8A0F”] It’s important to remember that anaemia isn’t a disease in itself, but a result of malfunction somewhere in the body.[/message]

With one-quarter of the world’s population suffering with anaemia, mainly because of poor diet choices and a deficiency of nutrients (especially iron, but also folate and vitamin B12), it’s no wonder that so many people have no energy, are breathless, tend to faint, and are pale and listless. Some estimates suggest that around one in five menstruating women and half of all pregnant women are anaemic. And in the case of children, an iron-poor diet can impact on physical and brain development. Yet those who live in the developed world have access to a rich and varied source of food – it is there for the taking. There’s simply no need not to eat the correct foods.

So, how much iron should you take?

Pharmacist C. Whitaker writes in the South African Pharmaceutical Journal that the recommended dosage of iron for adult men and post-menopausal women is at least 8 mg daily, while women of menstruating age need more, about 18 mg daily.

16 Iron-rich plant foods that help fight anaemia

Red meat, liver, salmon, tuna, shellfish, etc. are the regular go-to foods for iron, but this mineral is incredibly common in the plant-food world too.

  1. Leafy green vegetables: spinach, chard, kale, cauliflower
  2. Other vegetables: asparagus, green peas, Jerusalem artichokes, morel mushrooms, salad peppers
  3. Herbs: parsley, thyme, marjoram, basil, dandelion
  4. Fruit: dates, strawberries, kiwi
  5. Dried fruits: apricots, raisins and prunes
  6. Eggs
  7. Iron-fortified cereals
  8. Wholewheat bread
  9. Brown rice
  10. Nuts: almonds, cashews
  11. Seeds: hemp, pumpkin, sunflower, chia
  12. Seaweed: kelp, spirulina, nori, etc.
  13. Beans and legumes: white beans, kidney beans, soya beans, lentils
  14. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder
  15. Tofu
  16. Supplements: High-quality Flora Force Taheebo helps build red blood cells in the bone marrow; West Coast Kelp provides minerals needed in mineral-deficiency conditions.
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Boosting iron absorption

Plant-based iron is not easily absorbed by the body, so take it with vitamin C-rich foods and juices such as citrus, to get the full benefit.[/message]

Foods containing folic acid also help the body make red blood cells. Try enriched breads and cereals, green leafy vegetables, dried beans, peas and nuts.

Vitamin B12 is important for the synthesis and production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. Find it in a wide variety of animal foods (beef liver, fish, red meat), eggs, dairy products (although some sufferers report that dairy inhibits iron absorption) and fortified breakfast cereals.


Visit your medical professional if you suspect you have anaemia. In severe cases, the condition can indicate one or more serious nutritional deficiencies or an underlying medical problem that requires further treatment.

May good health be yours!


Acknowledgements & Photo credits

Article compiled for Flora Force by Judy Beyer.


  1. Fraser, Carly. 20 Iron-rich plant foods. 2012.
  2. Kinuthia, E, RN. Foods to eat to increase red blood cells. 2015.
  3. Stankus, K. Eating for good blood: Tips for boosting iron levels and hemoglobin. 2015. Scope. Stanford University.
  4. Parentdish. What is anaemia? 2016. HuffPost Parents UK
  5. Whitaker, C. Iron supplementation in the pharmacy. S Afr Pharm J;78(3):34–36

Photo credits

  1. Photo courtesy of Charles Thompson /