Raisins contain more iron than many other types of fruits. However, whether they deliver a high amount depends on the portion you eat, as well as your sex, because women need double the iron than men. A typical serving -- one small box -- does not qualify as a high source of iron based on U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations.
Iron in Raisins
One small box of seedless raisins contains 0.8 milligrams of iron. The Institute of Medicine recommends that premenopausal women consume 18 milligrams of iron daily, while men and postmenopausal women need 8 milligrams every day. Based on these requirements, a small box provides 4 percent of the recommended daily allowance for menstruating women and 10 percent for other adults. A high source of nutrients must provide 20 percent of your recommended daily allowance, according to the FDA. This means raisins provide a high source of iron only if men eat two small boxes and women consume 4.5 small boxes.
Boost Iron Absorption
Raisins contain a type of iron called nonheme iron. The amount of nonheme iron absorbed during digestion is affected by a variety of substances naturally found in foods. For example, phytic acid in legumes and grains interferes with iron uptake. If you get your raisins with wheat bran flakes, your body will absorb a smaller amount of the iron. On the flip side, vitamin C almost doubles the absorption of nonheme iron, according to Virginia Commonwealth University. To get the most iron from raisins, rinse them down with a cup of orange juice, or eat them with other vitamin C-rich foods, such as strawberries, sweet potatoes and pineapples.
Iron Supports Energy and Immunity
Iron is best known for its role in red blood cells, where it carries life-sustaining oxygen to cells and tissues in your body. When you don't get enough iron in your diet, red blood cells don't develop properly and they have less hemoglobin, which means they can't deliver enough oxygen. Iron-containing compounds fill other essential jobs in your body, such as metabolizing energy and synthesizing DNA. Your immune system also depends on iron. It's needed for the normal growth of white blood cells, and iron-dependent enzymes help produce antioxidants that protect immune system cells.
Risks of Deficiency
Iron deficiency interferes with your ability to stay physically active because muscles won't have enough oxygen and you'll quickly become fatigued. Some iron is stored in your liver, so when you don't get enough through your diet to meet normal daily losses, your body pulls it from storage. If your diet consistently lacks sufficient iron, the stores are eventually depleted and anemia develops. Pregnant women have an increased risk for iron deficiency. During pregnancy, the recommended dietary allowance increases to 27 milligrams daily to support the mother's increase in blood volume and to meet the iron needs of the developing baby.
- USDA Nutrient Database: Nutrient Lists: Iron: Fruits and Fruit Juices
- USDA Nutrient Database: Raisins, Seedless
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Appendix B: Additional Requirements for Nutrient Content Claims
- Linus Pauling Institute: Iron
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Iron and Iron Deficiency
- Virginia Commonwealth University: Iron Deficiency Anemia
- University of Washington: Iron Absorption
- Anemia.org: Women and Anemia: Increased Need for Iron During Pregnancy