Anemic people should eat foods that are high in iron, such as chicken and beef liver, tuna, shrimp, oysters and clams, notes Cleveland Clinic. These foods all contain heme iron. The iron found in plants, nonheme iron, is also helpful but is harder for the body to absorb.
The most frequent cause for anemia is low iron levels in the blood, explains Cleveland Clinic. This type is called iron-deficiency anemia. Some causes for low iron in the blood include a diet poor in iron; an elevated need for iron, as during pregnancy; and blood loss from some cancers, ulcers and monthly periods in women. While anyone can become anemic, women are particularly at risk. Other groups with higher risk include people taking blood thinners, those who can't absorb iron easily, ones who have experienced kidney failure, and people over age 65, because their diets are likely to be low in iron.
Once the doctor determines that the cause of anemia is iron deficiency, then treatment begins, either with oral iron supplements, adding iron to the diet, or combining the two approaches. Plant sources of iron include spinach, whole wheat bread, molasses and some types of beans. Combining plant iron sources with vitamin C, as with a glass of grapefruit juice, facilitates more efficient absorption, according to Cleveland Clinic.