Iron is a mineral that is essential for survival. This key nutrient takes part in some of the most important processes in your body and is a crucial part of your daily diet. Iron is responsible for the transport of oxygen throughout your body, and aids in red blood cell formation and maintenance. This mineral also plays a part in the growth of new cells. Men need 8 mg of iron per day and women require 18 mg. An iron deficiency can cause fatigue, decreased ability to engage in daily activities and a weak immune system. Meat is a healthy source of iron, but beans are another source that, in most cases, contain far more iron than milk, fruits and vegetables.
Beans are a nutritious way to add fiber and protein to your diet, particularly if you do not eat meat, but they are also a healthy source of iron. A 1-cup serving of some types of beans has more iron than a serving of meat. Some beans have more iron than others, but all beans will provide you with this important mineral. A serving of soybeans contains 8.8 mg, kidney beans have 5.2 mg and black beans contain 3.6 mg. Both lima and navy beans contain 4.5 mg per 1-cup serving.
There are vegetables that are on par with beans in terms of iron content, but for the most part they contain less than most varieties of beans. A 1-cup serving of spinach contains 6.4 mg and 1 cup of canned pumpkin supplies 3.41 mg. Green beans are another high-iron vegetable with 2.16 mg per 1-cup serving. A 1-cup serving of baked potato with the skin provides 1.32 mg and the same amount of baked sweet potato has 1.38 mg. Most other vegetables contain less than 1 mg per serving, such as green peppers with .51 mg and carrots with .38 mg.
There are a few fruits that contain a healthy dose of iron, but for the most part this food supplies less than 1 mg of iron per 1-cup serving. A 1-cup serving of raisins provides 3 mg and 1 cup of prune juice contains 3.02 mg. The same amount of cooked figs has 2.28 mg. Many of the more popular fruits supply you with less. A 1-cup serving of cantaloupe has .37 mg and 1 cup of strawberries supplies you with .62 mg.
Including milk in your daily diet enables you to increase your intake of calcium, which you need for your bones and teeth. While milk contains a trace amount of iron, it does not contain enough for it to be your only source of this nutrient in your diet. Whole milk contains less iron than any other type of milk, with just .07 mg per 1-cup serving. Two percent, one percent and skim milk each supply just more than double that with .15 mg in each cup.