Iron is an essential mineral needed for making hemoglobin, which is a protein found in red blood cells. It’s used to carry oxygen from your lungs to all the other areas of your body, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. When you have your blood drawn, eating foods rich in iron can help to replenish your iron supply since low iron can make you feel weak and tired, per the Mayo Clinic.
The American Red Cross states that two types of iron are gained from food: heme and non-heme. Heme iron is readily absorbed in your body and found in meats like chicken, poultry, beef, and pork. Non-heme iron is plant iron found in foods like spinach, peas, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. Both types of iron will help replenish your blood’s stock, but heme is more easily absorbed than non-heme. However, combining the two types of iron into one rich meal can give you more bang for your buck, advises the American Red Cross.
Eating them together is only one of many ways to maximize your iron intake, though. According to Michigan State University, adding in some vitamin C can help you absorb more non-heme iron. Therefore, consider having a spinach salad with a few bell peppers or tomatoes thrown in. You can also season your sweet potato and chicken with a pinch or two of chili pepper.