Iron-rich foods to eat before donating blood include red meat, fish, poultry, beans and spinach. It can be beneficial to eat iron-fortified foods such as cereal and raisins. As well as being high in iron, red meats increase the body's ability to absorb the iron.
To prepare to donate blood, donors should maintain a healthy diet that includes foods rich in iron and drink plenty of water. It is important to avoid foods high in fat, such as hamburgers, fries and ice cream. High levels of fat in the blood can cause the blood to be unusable. Two days prior to donating blood, donors should consume foods that are not only high in iron but increase the absorption of it. Foods high in vitamin C help the body to absorb iron. Vitamin C-rich foods include tomatoes, oranges, and red or yellow peppers. Donors should avoid the use of aspirin for two days prior to donating platelets.
In an effort to collect blood for the military, the Red Cross began its blood donor service in 1941. The first civilian collection center was opened in Rochester in 1948. One year later, the program consisted of 1,500 hospital blood banks, 46 community blood centers and 31 American Red Cross regional blood centers.