Beans are high in iron
is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States and the leading cause of anemia, a condition where the body has a lower-than-normal red blood cell count. Current guidelines suggest women get about 18 milligrams of iron a day, but many fall short of that goal. Eating beans is one way to get started on boosting your iron intake: a half cup of cooked lentils for instance has 3.3 milligrams. However, because beans are a plant food, they contain non-heme iron, which isn't as readily absorbed as the heme iron you find in meat. For better absorption, it's recommended you eat beans with foods high in vitamin C
. "Vitamin C gives non-heme iron a sizable boost, upping its absorption by six times," Sass says. "So pair beans with foods like bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, and citrus."