5 Top Tips to Increase Iron in Your Diet

They say you are what you eat.
But can what you eat also impact how you feel? The answer is - more than likely!

For example, fatigue and lethargy are often associated with a diet that lacks in the nutrient iron.

You may be surprised to know that a low iron intake is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in New Zealand, with women, young children and athletes most at risk.

However, the good news is iron can easily be increased by following these 5 top tips from Beef + Lamb NZ.


Eat Lean Meat Regularly for Top Iron Intake
There are two types of iron in food: haem iron (found in meat and fish) and non-haem iron (found mainly in plants, but also in meat). The body absorbs the haem iron in meat much more efficiently than the non-haem iron in plant foods. For example 1/4 cup of cooked silverbeet contains 0.5mg of iron, but the body can only use about 5% of this. In comparison, 120g of cooked lean beef contains an average of 3.1mg of iron and the body absorbs around 25% of it.

See Red
Red meats are richer in haem iron than white meat, poultry and fish, so eat red meat for a top iron intake.

Get Plenty of Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps the body to use non-haem iron – the iron in plant foods. Include plenty of fruit, fruit juices or vegetables rich in vitamin C with your meals.

Eat Red Meat and Vegetables Together
Eat a combination of red meat and plant foods (vegetables, pasta, rice, legumes, fruits). Eating meat with plant foods will also help the body use more of the non-haem iron by up to four times. Examples of iron-rich meals include meat and vegetable stir-fry, a meat sauce with pasta and vegetables, or a lean beef salad sandwich.

Keep Your Meals Tannin Free
It is better to drink tea and coffee between meals, rather than with your meals. The tannin in tea, and to lesser extent coffee, reduces the amount of iron we can use from food.

Thinking about what you can whip up in the kitchen to increase your iron intake? We have some delicious recipes from Beef + Lamb New Zealand that incorporate fresh beef and lamb that you can make at home to keep the family full, healthy and full of energy!


The best thing about this dish is as well as tasting delicious, it’s so quick and easy to prepare. We recommend using reduced salt soy sauce otherwise it will taste too salty. You can be flexible with the green vegetables – choose whatever is available and in season. Hoisin sauce is available in your supermarket and gives the dish a great flavour.

Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cook Time: 10 Minutes | Serves 4 - 6

Good source of Iron.



600g-700g Quality Mark beef rump steak, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons ginger, finely grated

¼ cup hoisin sauce

¼ cup reduced salt soy sauce

2 teaspoons corn flour mixed with

½ cup Campbell’s Real Stock –No Added Salt Beef

3 cups chopped green vegetables (Asian greens, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, celery etc.)

To serve

Cooked brown rice

½ cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

Fresh coriander

Extra chopped chillies (optional)


Heat a dash of oil in a wok or large frying pan over a high heat. When the pan is very hot, add the beef and sear quickly to brown (do this in two batches to get a nice dark colour and avoid the meat stewing). Set the beef aside.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the sesame oil, chilli, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for a few minutes. Add the hoisin sauce, soy sauce and stock/corn flour mixture and simmer for a few minutes until thickened. Turn the heat to high, add all the vegetables into the pan with the meat and its juices and stir-fry for another few minutes until the vegetables are bright green and just tender.

To serve
Serve immediately on brown rice with a sprinkle of peanuts, coriander and chillies.

Click here to see tips, tricks and reviews on this recipe!


The citrus flavors throughout this meal make it ideal for a refreshing summer meal. For a festive twist, finish the plated salad with extra leaves of sweet marjoram and the seeds of one pomegranate.

Prep Time: 30 Minutes | Cook Time: 15 Minutes | Serves 4

Good source of Iron. Low in Sodium.



3 Quality Mark lamb rumps, trimmed


2 tablespoons oil

½ tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh sweet marjoram or oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)


1½ cups cooked Israeli couscous

1 head baby cos lettuce, leaves separated and torn into pieces

4 large handfuls baby spinach leaves

2 radishes, trimmed and finely sliced

2 oranges, peeled and segmented

2 tablespoons shelled and toasted pistachio nuts

Citrus vinaigrette

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon liquid honey


Preheat the oven to 190°C conventional bake.

Combine marinade ingredients then rub over the lamb. Cover and leave in a cool place for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse. Place a roasting dish in the oven to heat. Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat and brown the lamb on all sides. Transfer lamb to the heated roasting dish, place in the oven and roast for 10 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from the oven and leave to rest, covered loosely with foil for 10 minutes, before slicing across the grain.

Place all prepared ingredients, except pistachio nuts in a large bowl ready for dressing. Citrus vinaigrette: Place citrus vinaigrette ingredients in a small screw top jar and shake well. Season to taste.

To serve
Divide lamb slices between 4 plates. Toss salad in the citrus vinaigrette and place beside the lamb slices. Sprinkle with pistachio nuts and serve immediately.

Click here to see tips, tricks and reviews on this recipe!

For more wholesome meals using lean beef and lamb from New Zealand, click here.