Vegetables rich in iron include broccoli, spinach, green pepper and collards. Most vegetables have nonheme iron, which is more difficult for the human body to digest and absorb. The body can absorb between 2 to10 percent of the nonheme iron ingested.
To improve the absorption of nonheme iron, people can increase intake of vitamin C, while coffee, tea and foods high in calcium can reduce iron absorption. Foods that are high in vitamin C include citrus, broccoli and red, yellow and orange peppers. Other vegetables high in nonheme iron include sweet potatoes, peas, chard and kale. Nonheme iron is also found in wheat germ, rice, some beans and some seeds. Fruits are another source of nonheme iron.
Heme iron can be absorbed at a rate of up to 30 percent and is found in meats. Meats highest in iron include liver, shellfish, beef and turkey. Practically all forms of meat have iron in their makeup, but the foods listed have at least 0.7 milligrams per serving for 3 ounces of meat.
A lack of iron can cause anemia, a condition where red blood cells are fewer and there is less hemoglobin in the blood. This prevents oxygen from circulating properly and results in the person feeling weak or tired.