Nutritious and Convenient Snacks High in Iron for Busy People

Are you constantly on the go and struggling to find nutritious snacks to keep your energy levels high? Look no further! I’ve compiled a list of 10 delicious and convenient snacks high in Iron to help power you through those busy days. Whether at work, running errands, or hitting the gym, these nutrient-rich options will keep you satisfied and fueled. 

See also Plant Iron Sources and Top 12 Foods High in Phosphorus.

What is iron

Iron is an essential mineral that the body needs for various processes, including producing hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body.

It also promotes the production of myoglobin, another protein that provides oxygen to your muscle cells.

In addition, iron supports the immune system and promotes energy production throughout the body.

A deficiency can result in low energy levels, fatigue, and poor concentration, among other issues.

Unfortunately, most people don’t get enough of this mineral, especially with a busy schedule. This could be because they don’t have time to properly plan and balance their meals.

That’s why focusing on getting extra iron from the snacks you’re likely to bring to work can come a long way.

Health Benefits of Iron in the Body

Here are the main reasons you need iron-rich foods:

1. Iron transports oxygen throughout the body

More than 70% of the iron in the body is located in the red blood cells (hemoglobin) and muscles (myoglobin). 

In the red blood cells, the protein hemoglobin helps transport oxygen in the blood from the lungs to the rest of the body. 

Myoglobin is another iron-carrying protein, but unlike hemoglobin, it carries oxygen to striated muscles like your heart muscles and skeletal muscles. A good example of skeletal muscles is the muscles attached to your bones and tendons. Myoglobin helps supply the cells in these muscles with oxygen, which they need for energy.

With enough iron in the body, the red blood cells can synthesize hemoglobin and myoglobin, ensuring that the oxygenated blood gets to all the vital organs and that your muscles receive enough oxygen, which boosts efficient body metabolism.

2. Iron enhances cognitive functions

While the brain is a small part of your body, it requires a lot of energy to function optimally. It needs constant replenishment of oxygen and glucose. Having enough iron in the blood ensures that this happens hence enhancing the organ’s cognitive activity.

Cognitive functions refer to a variety of different but related mental abilities, including thinking, learning, remembering, reasoning, decision-making, attention, and problem-solving.

Additionally, iron aids in synthesizing neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. These neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that relay signals from one neuron to another. They all function in the central nervous system and boost your overall mental well-being. 

3. Iron cures and prevents anemia

Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough hemoglobin or enough healthy red blood cells in circulation, causing an insufficient oxygen supply. Since oxygen is responsible for fueling the body, low iron levels will result in fatigue, light-headedness, dizziness, and shortness of breath.

If left untreated, the body is susceptible to further complications like heart murmurs, enlarged heart, arrhythmia, and ultimate heart failure. 

According to research, lack of adequate iron is the number one cause of anemia globally. 

By consuming iron-rich foods, you protect yourself from diseases such as anemia and other related conditions.

4. Iron enhances athletic performance and muscle contractions

As mentioned earlier, iron is a vital element required in the synthesis of myoglobin. This is a protein that provides your muscles with oxygen. While a normal person may have enough to support their day-to-day activities, an athlete may need more to enhance their athletic performance. 

Further studies show that supplementing iron in athletes improves maximal performance and increases endurance. This is even more crucial for female athletes at a reproductive age as they lose a lot of iron in their menstrual flows. 

With the right amount of myoglobin, your muscle tissues are well nourished. This facilitates contraction, which in turn maintains muscle elasticity and toning. The result is a productive workout or exercise session, strong muscles, and exceptional athletic performance.

Best Snacks High in Iron

1. Dried Apricots

Dried apricots for iron snack

Dried fruit contains less water, which makes its nutrients, including iron, more concentrated.

Apricots are one of the best-dried fruit rich in iron, with an ounce (28g) providing 10 percent of your daily iron requirements.

The recommended daily serving is 30 grams 0r 3-4 dried apricots daily.

Apricots are also high in vitamin A, with an ounce providing up to 71 percent of your daily needs.

Vitamin A is important for normal vision, growth and development, reproduction, and the immune system. Dried apricots can also boost your intake of vitamin C, potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium. So besides giving you iron, a few dried apricots a day can offer a wide range of other essential nutrients.

Other iron-rich dried fruits to consume include prunes, peaches, figs, and raisins. However, maintain a minimal intake since dried fruits can be high in sugar.

2. Tofu

Tofu nuggets for iron snack

Tofu is a popular vegan ingredient made from soybeans. It’s common in Asian countries, but today consumed in the west as a healthy protein source, especially for vegans or health-conscious individuals.

Tofu is also rich in vitamin K, thiamine, folate, calcium, zinc, selenium, manganese, and iron. 

Additionally, tofu is a good source of isoflavones, which are phytoestrogen compounds that can enhance insulin sensitivity, lower your risk of heart disease, relieve menstrual cramps, and improve menopausal symptoms.

When it comes to iron levels, a cup of tofu can provide you with up to 27 percent of your daily recommended iron requirements, and getting a way to sick it into your busy life can help maintain healthy levels.

Assuming you have some cooked tofu in the fridge, you can cut it into cubes and enjoy it as is with a dipping sauce. You can also slice it thinly and place it on crackers or make a wrap with tofu as the main ingredient. The possibilities to use tofu as a snack are endless, so just get creative.

3. Quinoa

Quinoa balls on blue and white plate

While quinoa is considered a grain, it is actually a seed. It’s often referred to as a pseudo-grain because it’s not part of the Poaceae cereal family.

Often taken as a replacement for rice, these seeds have a high level of copper, folate, and magnesium. 

They are also a complete protein, offering all the essential amino acids the body needs to function optimally.

You will get nearly 3mg of iron in one cup of cooked quinoa. Due to their versatility, you can use them in various recipes. 

One of my favorites is quinoa balls. Boil your quinoa as usual. Once cooked, mix with your favorite seasoning and shape them into small balls or patties using your hand. Place them on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy them as is at work, or bring along some dipping sauce.

You can also mix your cooked quinoa with chopped fruits and nuts for a balanced snack.

4. Pistachios

Pistachio nuts iron snacks

Pistachios are nuts with hard outer shells and very flavorful kernels. They have a good proportion of fiber, fat, and protein, which makes them a perfect snack for anyone looking for quick replenishment. 

In 1 ounce of pistachios, you will get 6.1% of your daily iron requirement.

In addition to iron, pistachios are also a good source of thiamine, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese.

They are also a good source of antioxidants which can help fight free radical damage and prevent associated conditions. 

5. Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted chickpeas snack for iron

Chickpeas are among the healthiest legumes you can find in the market. They contain fiber, folate, copper, manganese, and iron. A cup of cooked chickpeas contains 26 percent of your daily iron requirements. They are also a good source of protein, with a cup providing up to 29 percent of what you need.

Including chickpeas in your diet can provide various benefits, including aiding weight loss, improving digestion, and heart health, fighting inflammation, and promoting healthy vision.

To enjoy chickpeas on the go, roast them with olive oil and salt and carry them in an air-tight container. You can also sprinkle some cinnamon for added flavor and benefits.

You can also enjoy some lemon-garlic hummus on toast as a midday snack.

6. Sunflower seeds

sunflower seeds for iron snacks

Sunflower seeds pack a good amount of iron, with 1 cup of roasted sunflower seeds providing up to 51 percent of your daily iron requirement.

They are also very high in manganese, copper, and phosphorus, with the same amount providing over 100 percent of your daily requirements.

In addition, sunflower seeds are a good source of healthy fats, protein, fiber, and antioxidants.

Research shows that consuming seeds, including sunflower seeds, can reduce high cholesterol and blood pressure and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. 

The vitamins and minerals in sunflower seeds can also help boost your immune system and boost your ability to fight infections.

You can enjoy roasted sunflower seeds as a snack on your own or make a trail mix with dried fruit, nuts, and other seeds, including pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds. They make a great on-the-go snack because it’s High in Iron.

Potential Side Effects of Iron

Dietary sources of iron are safe to consume. However, taking an iron supplement when you don’t qualify for one (such as when you’re not anemic) can cause an iron overload in the body.

Certain genetic disorders like hemochromatosis can also cause an iron overload. This is a condition in which your body stores too much iron than you need. It can lead to serious adverse effects, including liver, heart, and pancreatic damage.

To prevent this problem, always ensure your iron levels are tested before taking any supplement.

Moreover, iron supplements should only be taken under a doctor’s prescription.

Iron FAQs

Can the body have too much iron?

Yes, and like most minerals and substances, too much iron can be toxic to the body. Excessive amounts can lead to gastrointestinal issues, including nausea, stomach pains, diarrhea, and vomiting. Over a long time, iron can accumulate in your vital organs, such as the liver, and cause fatal damage. Be careful not to consume too many snacks high in Iron.

What happens if the body lacks enough iron?

Iron is a crucial mineral in the body. If the levels are too low, your body will be unable to produce enough red blood cells (RBCs). These RBCs are the cells through which oxygen travels in the blood to vital organs. As such, iron deficiency alters the transportation of oxygenated blood, causing anemia, shortness of breath, and unwarranted fatigue. Consuming Snacks High in Iron is important.

How much iron should you take every day?

The amount of iron you consume depends on a few factors, including age, gender, and underlying conditions. 

According to a report by NIH (National Institutes of Health), non-expectant women between 19 to 50 should consume 18 mg of iron, while pregnant women need 27 mg of iron every day. This is mainly attributed to menstrual flow, which causes them to lose blood, and for pregnant women, iron supports the developing baby.

Women above 51 only need 8 mg of the mineral as they are in menopause, and not much blood is lost. Further research shows that it is rare for women above 50 to suffer iron deficiencies. 

Men above 19 require 8 mg, while infants and children should take 7 to 16 mg, depending on their age and health status. Visit your pediatrician for an assessment to know the exact amount your child needs. Preparing for road trips would be easy, grabbing a few of these Snacks High in Iron, that is mentioned.

How long does it take for iron levels to rise in the body?

In most cases, people suffering from iron deficiency should begin to have an increment in the mineral between three to seven days. They will later experience an increase in hemoglobin within a month. 

How can you check the levels of iron in the body?

To determine the amount of iron in your body, your doctor will perform various tests, including assessing your complete blood count (CBC).

This measures your hemoglobin and hematocrit levels. CBC can also measure your MCV (mean corpuscular volume), which measures the average size of your red blood cells. This can help determine the cause of your anemia. For example, iron deficiency anemia can present with small red blood cells than normal.

Related Articles:

  1. Top 9 Foods High in Phytoestrogens

  2. Top 5 Edible Flowers and Their Health Benefits

  3. The Best Copper-Rich Foods to Eat

  4. 13 Scientific Benefits of Spearmint


As seen above, iron is an essential element in the human body. It is required for various metabolic processes, such as oxygen transportation and energy production. However, meeting your daily iron requirements can be difficult in a busy day-to-day life.

That’s why paying attention to snacks high in iron can help boost your intake, even at work. This may include roasted chickpeas, tofu, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and quinoa.

While dietary sources of iron are safe and healthy to consume, too much intake in the form of supplements can be damaging. This is especially true when taken without a justifiable indication, such as in anemia. So always focus on your food sources, and if you think you need a supplement, you must get your levels checked by a doctor before adding in a supplement. Enjoy your Snacks high in Iron.

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