Every cell in your body uses iron as it creates and expends energy. Haemoglobin, a protein that contains iron, transports oxygen throughout the body, giving blood its red colour. Excess iron in the body can be toxic. Certain people have diseases or problems that cause the inability of the body to rid itself of excess iron. For these people, a low-iron diet may be recommended by their doctor. These are some foods that are generally low in iron.
Fruits and Vegetables
Many fruits and vegetables are low in iron. Apples, cranberries, grapefruits and tangerines are all good examples of fruits that contain low amounts of iron. Vegetables such as lettuce, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, cabbage and cauliflower are all low in iron as well. There are many nutritional websites available if you have questions on a specific fruit or vegetable and its iron content.
Another safe bet for low-iron diets, according to IronDisorders.org, is dairy. Dairy products tend to be very low in iron unless the packaging says "fortified with iron." In these cases, it is best to steer clear. Most types of cheese and milk are low in iron. In addition, many milk products actually block the absorption of iron into the bloodstream. For this reason, dairy is generally a staple in low-iron diets.
If you are on a low-iron diet but you are concerned that you are still taking in too much iron, drink plenty of coffee, tea and (sparingly) red wine. These products, working in a similar way to dairy products, contain adequate levels of certain chemicals to block the absorption of excess iron. However, do not consume alcohol if your iron problems are confounded by liver issues as well. As always, consult your doctor before changing your diet.
Nuts, Grains, Rice and Beans
A person on a low-iron diet can also safely consume nuts, grains, rice and beans, according to IronDisorders.org. These products are high in fibre, which can work in the intestines to stop iron absorption as well. Be careful when mixing these with sugar, as sugary items tend to be high in iron and do away with the absorption effects. Such examples include peanut butter, white bread, sticky rice and refried beans.
Foods That are High in Iron
Meats are generally high in iron content. Red meats are especially dangerous to those on a low-iron diet. Fish and poultry tend to have lower iron content; however, shellfish are very high in iron. Clams are one of the most iron-rich foods on the planet. For those meat lovers who suddenly find themselves on a low-iron diet, there are low-iron alternatives to many of your favourites, such as trout bacon (a bacon substitute made from trout). Low-iron dieters should also avoid "bran" style cereals, which boast very high levels of iron. In some extreme cases, people on low-iron diets should also avoid anything cooked in iron cookware.