Although most Americans don't have any difficulty ingesting adequate amounts of iron, some populations are at higher risk of inadequate intake and, as a result, deficiency. Women, particularly during pregnancy, and those that strictly adhere to a plant-based diet are among those at-risk populations. For those that struggle with inadequate iron consumption, fruits and vegetables may offer a surprising source of iron that can easily be added to your diet. In this article, we will evaluate several fruit juices high in iron.

What is Iron & Why Is It So Important

Iron is a vital nutrient as it helps with the transportation of oxygen throughout our bodies, a function without which our bodies couldn't function effectively. Additionally, iron helps keep our cells, hair, skin, and nails healthy. A inadequate level of iron , an iron deficiency may surface as anemia, fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, pale skin, and brittle nails, among other symptoms.

Iron needs will vary based on age and gender, with infants and toddlers often requiring higher amounts than adults due to their rapid growth. Women aged 19-50 have higher needs than men as a result of blood loss from menstruation; this is why they are more likely to be deficient. Women within this age group need 18 mg of iron daily, while men and post-menopausal women need only 8 mg per day.

There are two main types of iron: heme and non-heme. Heme iron, which is found primarily in animal products including meat, poultry, and seafood, is more readily absorbed within the body. Non-heme iron, found in plant-based products, is not absorbed as efficiently. As a result, it has been suggested that people following a plant-based diet may require iron supplementation, however, a recent study identified a low prevalence of iron-deficiency anemia in children consuming a plant-based diet indicating that fruits and veggies may provide the necessary sources of iron. 

7 Of The Juices Highest In Iron

Prune juice

While most commonly known for its benefit in remedying constipation, it is also a fantastic source of iron. One cup provides 6 mg of non-heme iron, which is 75% of the RDI for men and post-menopausal women! This makes them an excellent addition to the diets of those looking to naturally boost their iron consumption. They also contain significant amounts of many other important macro-and micro nutrients including fiber, potassium, vitamins K and A, and several of the B vitamins. An added benefit, a recent study has suggested that ingestion of prunes is associated with reduced blood pressure and improved bone health. Have we given you enough reasons to incorporate prune juice into your diet yet? We hope so!

Mulberry juice

Second to prunes, 1 cup of mulberry contains 2 mg of iron. Compared to other fruits, mulberries are significantly lower in calories and carbohydrates as they are 88% water; this makes them a great choice as many other fruit juices are high in both calories and sugar. Mulberries are rich in a variety of micronutrients including vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and vitamin E. Their high vitamin C content offers an added bonus as vitamin C plays a critical role in iron absorption and cellular iron uptake.

Tomato juice

 Is the highest in iron with one cup containing 1 mg of iron, as well as an array of other vitamins and minerals. Tomato juice is rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, as well as vitamins A, C, and K, and several of the B vitamins.  One cup of tomato juice provides nearly all of your daily vitamin C needs, which further enhances the absorptive capacity of iron. The antioxidant activity offers a further nutritional boost by preventing free radical damage and, as a result, preventing many chronic diseases. An added benefit, tomato juice is naturally low in sugar compared to other juice products.

Passion fruit juice

Passion fruit juice is not only delicious but incredibly healthy. In fact, it has recently been gaining popularity as a result of its high antioxidant content. Aside from its iron content, which comes in at 0.89 mg per 1 cup, it is rich in vitamins A and C, potassium, and magnesium. As a result, passion fruit juice can help prevent anemia resulting from low iron and keep blood cells healthy.

Pineapple juice

Pineapple juice offers a variety of health benefits, including improved digestion, enhanced heart health, and reduced inflammation. Additionally, it offers a rich source of iron, containing 0.8 mg in 1 cup of juice. Similarly, to the other juices mentioned, its high vitamin C content helps with the absorption of iron. Pineapple juice is also rich in a variety of other nutrients including manganese, copper, and vitamin B6.

Grape juice

Provides 0.6 mg of iron per one cup. Additionally, it contains a variety of other micronutrients including antioxidants. In fact, it has been suggested that grape juice may offer similar nutritional and health benefits as those provided by wine.

Apple juice

Available in cloudy (pulp) and clear (pulp-free) varieties, apple juice is rich in antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals. Cloudy apple juice offers significantly higher amounts of antioxidants compared to pulp-free products, although its nutritional content is otherwise similar. Apple juice is a moderate source of potassium in addition to iron, offering 0.3 mg per 1 cup. Although apple juice is naturally low in vitamin C, most commercial varieties do have vitamin C added, which will improve the absorption of iron

But, Are Juices a Healthy Way Of Getting Iron?

As we've now seen, fruit juices can offer a variety of nutritional benefits, including their high iron content and resultant anemia prevention. However, juices have recently acquired a bad reputation due to their high sugar content. Although most of the sugar in juice is natural sugar from the fruit, some products do contain quite a bit of added sugar. Interestingly, a 2017 study revealed that fruit juice only accounted for 2.9% of free (or added) sugar consumption.

Because juice products can contribute significantly to your overall sugar consumption, it is imperative to pay attention to which products you are ingesting. Of course, making your own juice at home is the best way to ensure that it is rich in nutrients without packing all of that sugar. However, for those that are pinched for time, there are suitable commercial products available. When purchasing juice from the store, be sure to look for products that are 100% real fruit juice rather than "fruit cocktail" or "fruit beverage" products as excess consumption can unknowingly contribute to weight creep. You can read more about this point in our article: Does Drinking Fruit Juices Lead To Weight Gain. We recommend limiting juice consumption to 1 or 2 cups per day.

Closing Thoughts

As you can see, fruits and veggies can be a great way to naturally boost your iron intake for those that struggle to consume adequate amounts. For those with persistent iron deficiency, we recommend following closely with your doctor or Registered Dietitian to determine the underlying cause and best course of treatment. Additionally, we recommend that diabetics consult with their doctor or dietitian prior to routinely incorporating these juices as they will increase your overall sugar consumption and potentially your blood sugar as a result. Do you have your favorite iron-rich fruit juices? Let us know!