Increase hemoglobin levels by eating foods rich in heme and non-heme iron. Heme iron comes from hemoglobin and is present in poultry, fish and red meat. The human body absorbs most of the iron it needs from heme iron sources. Non-heme iron is found in grains, vegetables and fortified commercial foods. This iron is absorbed by the body when ingested with sources of vitamin C.
The best sources of heme iron are beef liver, chicken liver, oysters, clams and mollusks. A 3-ounce serving of any of these proteins contains a minimum of 3.5 milligrams of heme iron. Cooked beef, turkey and oil-canned sardines contain a minimum of 2.1 milligrams of heme iron per serving. Chicken, fish, ham and veal contain a minimum 0.7 milligrams per serving.
The best sources of non-heme iron contain 3.5 milligrams or more per serving, according to WebMD. These sources are fortified breakfast cereals, 1 cup of cooked beans, 1/2 cup of tofu and 1 ounce of sesame, squash or pumpkin seeds. Obtain 2.1 milligrams or more from 1 cup of dried apricots, 1 cup of enriched egg noodles, 1/2 cup chickpeas, 1/2 cup red kidney beans, a medium baked potato and a medium stalk of broccoli. One ounce of peanuts, pistachios, roasted cashews and sunflower seeds contribute 0.7 milligrams of non-heme iron per serving. Other sources of non-heme iron with 0.7 milligrams per serving are spinach, green pepper, 1 cup of rice, dried raisins, a slice of pumpernickel bagel or bran muffin.