Have you had your serving of super food today? Just one 1/2 cup of cooked spinach contains 3.2 mg of iron and plenty of other good-for-your-pregnancy vitamins and minerals, including beta-carotene, folate, vitamin C, and calcium.
Spinach greens cook quickly and make an easy side dish. Try this simple
sautéed spinach. Or go all out with quiche-like
Want to give breakfast an iron boost? Look for hot and cold cereals made from iron-fortified grains. Amounts vary by brand, but fortified cold cereals generally offer anywhere from 1.8 to 21.1 mg of iron per serving;
oatmeal and other hot cereals typically range a bit lower in iron content, anywhere from 4.9 to 8.1 mg. Iron-fortified cereals are often fortified with folate and calcium, too—giving your prenatal diet a great start to the day.
Per serving, beef contains 2.5 to 3 mg of iron. Other foods may match or exceed this amount, but it is the type of iron found in beef that is so important. Iron from animal sources is called heme-iron, a form of the mineral that is much easier for our bodies to absorb. Leaner meats tend to have a higher iron content than fatty cuts do; look for ground beef with a low fat content—or trim away fat on steaks and roasts before cooking.
Give beef a try tonight with this quick and easy
beef stir-fry that also provides a serving of vegetables. Or use your slow cooker to create a hearty, iron-rich
A sweetener that’s actually good for you? Often touted as the best source of iron for vegetarians, blackstrap molasses provides a hefty 3.5 mg of iron per tablespoon. And that’s not all. Blackstrap molasses also contains 172 mg of calcium per serving, 498 mg of potassium, and 10 percent of the RDI for magnesium.
Here's a food that really does double duty during pregnancy. Not only does prune juice pack in 1.2 mg of iron per 100-g serving (a little over 1/3 of a cup), its fiber-rich goodness also helps ward off constipation, a very common complaint among moms-to-be.
If you are more of a dried fruit fan, take your pick from 1/2 cup servings of dried apricots (3.6 mg of iron), dried peaches (4.8 mg), prunes (3.8 mg), and raisins (2.6 mg). Dried fruits are still fiber-rich and will help keep you regular.
Potatoes are fat-free, cholesterol-free, high in potassium and vitamin C, and a good source of vitamin B6 and dietary fiber. And for your iron intake, spuds offer a solid 2.7 mg of iron per potato.
Whether you whip up a batch of
potato salad or have a
sizzling potato pancake for breakfast, just don't skip the skins! Potato skins contain five times the amount of iron and other nutrients as the spud's starchy insides. Pick recipes that allow for the skin to remain intact.
Pass the pâté! Liver, the foundation for most pâté recipes, is extremely high in iron. Chicken liver has 10 g per 4-ounce serving, while a 4-ounce serving of beef liver contains 6.5 mg. Goose liver (foie gras) is even higher, with 30 mg of iron per 4-ounce serving. Liver also offers ample amounts of vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B12 (important for red blood cell formation and neurological development) and zinc, a mineral that supports cell division and repair during pregnancy.
For food safety reasons, it's a good idea to skip the raw oysters on the half shell during pregnancy. But with only 3 ounces of clams providing a whopping 23.8 mg of iron, bring on the clam chowder! Indulge in a steamy, creamy bowl of New England clam chowder or try some tomato-based Manhattan clam chowder—vitamin C in the tomatoes may actually help the body better absorb iron.
Not in the mood for soup? Try this recipe for
linguine with clam sauce.
Red, black, kidney... All dried beans contain iron, but white beans—delivering 3.9 mg of iron and per 1/2 cup serving—contain the most. Try the versatile bean in everything from soups, like this quick and hearty
pork, white bean and kale soup, to
white bean dip, a creamy and tasty alternative to hummus. White beans are also a good source for potassium, a mineral that keeps your electrolytes in balance and helps prevent pesky leg muscle cramps.
With 4.2 mg of iron in every handful, you may want to rethink only eating pumpkin seeds during jack o'lantern-carving season. Pumpkin seeds are easy to roast yourself and store for future snacking (try this recipe for chile-lime pumpkin seeds) or, for those who missed out last October, you can buy toasted pumpkin seeds year round at most grocery stores.
Wondering what those small green pumpkin seeds called pepitas are? These seeds have had their outer shells removed to make them easier to digest. Pepitas are much less crunchy, but still work well sprinkled in salads or soups for added texture and a nutty taste.