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What to eat and what to avoid to treat anemia

Updated in November 2019

To fight anemia, it is important you consume foods rich in protein, iron, folic acid and B-complex vitamins, which can be found in foods such as meats, eggs, fish and spinach. These nutrients stimulate the production of red blood cells, which are usually low when you have anemia.

Another important tip is to consume a food rich in vitamin C after lunch and dinner, such as orange or pineapple, as this vitamin increases the capacity of the body to absorb iron in the intestine, helping to fight the disease.

What to eat and what to avoid to treat anemia

Foods that help fight anemia

To fight anemia you should eat food rich in the following nutrients:


This nutrient is especially important in cases of iron deficiency anemia, because iron stimulates the production of red blood cells. Iron that is best absorbed by the intestine when it comes from animal origin such as meats, chicken, fish, liver, eggs and seafood.

In vegetables, iron is present in beans, soybeans, lentils, peanuts, beets and dark green leaves such as spinach and cabbage. See a complete list of iron rich foods.

Folic Acid

Folic acid is responsible for stimulating the production of blood cells and the proper formation of hemoglobin, the substance responsible for carrying oxygen in the red blood cells. It is present in foods such as spinach, kale, liver, wheat germ and eggs.

B12 vitamin

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause megaloblastic anemia, which can be prevented by increasing the consumption of foods such as liver, heart, meat, eggs, milk and dairy products.

What not to eat if you have anemia

What to eat and what to avoid to treat anemia

During the treatment for anemia you should avoid eating calcium-rich foods along with iron-rich meals, because calcium reduces the absorption of iron in the intestine. Therefore, it is important to avoid consuming milk and dairy products especially at lunch and dinner when you normally eat meat and other iron-rich foods.

In addition, you should also avoid drinking coffee, black tea and mate tea in the same iron-rich meal, as they are rich in phytates and tannins, substances that also reduce the absorption of iron in the intestine. 

Menu for anemia

The following table provides an example of a 3-day diet menu to fight anemia:

MealDay 1Day 2Day 3 

Orange juice + bread with scrambled eggs

Banana vitamin with avocado and honey1 natural yogurt + granola and almonds or nuts
Morning snack1 apple + 10 peanuts10 cashew nutsBeet, orange and walnut juice

Grilled meat with rice+ beans and lettuce, carrot and pepper salad+ strawberries for dessert.

Fish with baked potatoes + braised cabbage salad with olive oil+ 1 orange for dessertLiver steak with rice and beans + green salad with grated beets + lemon juice

Afternoon snack

Avocado vitaminLemon juice + egg and cheese sandwichTangerine juice + 2 scrambled eggs with tomato and oregano

In addition to eating, it is important to seek the doctor for tests and find out the cause of the anemia and, if necessary, take medication and supplements to help with the treatment.

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