What are Blood Building Foods?

Devon Pryor

The term blood building foods is commonly used in alternative medicine, particularly in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Blood building foods are those foods that contain high quantities of specific nutrients thought to encourage the production of new blood cells in the body. The most important ingredient in a blood building food is iron, but vitamin B12 and folic acid are also key.

Oysters are an example of a blood building food.
Oysters are an example of a blood building food.

Although many choose simply to strengthen the blood by taking iron pills or liquid iron supplements, eating a diet high in blood building foods can be equally effective. Some blood building foods are less appetizing than others, and though they are food, they are generally taken as a supplement rather then simply eaten as a meal. These include foods like animal liver, brewer’s yeast, bone marrow soup, and black strap molasses. Colostrum, the milk produced in mammals during the late stages of pregnancy, is also considered a blood building food. Colostrum is high in antibodies and nutrients needed by newborn mammals to build blood after birth.

Prunes can help build blood.
Prunes can help build blood.

If these options seem unappetizing, there are a number of blood building foods which may have wider appeal to the palate. These include meats, particularly duck, goose, lamb, and oyster. Dark leafy greens, such as spinach and wheatgrass, are also particularly high in iron, and are considered a blood building food. Wheatgrass, and other foods such as raisins, prunes, kidney beans, mushrooms, apricots, and soy foods can be particularly effective in building blood, especially if one is following a vegetarian diet.

Wheatgrass is a blood building food.
Wheatgrass is a blood building food.

The iron-rich foods listed above are considered particularly potent in blood building potential. Hypothetically speaking, however, any food that is high in nutrients is beneficial to the blood. Of course, if one wants to encourage the production of healthy new blood cells, it is also wise to stay away from those foods that offer little nutritional value, or rob the body of nutrients. Foods such as refined sugar, coffee, and alcohol are often thought to rob nutrients from the body, not to mention the taxing effect they can have on the liver.

Kidney beans can help build blood.
Kidney beans can help build blood.

Within the practice of TCM, herbs are also commonly recommended in a blood building regimen. Though they may not be foods in and of themselves, herbs, spices and extracts taken to build blood are often derived from foods, or other edible substances. These include ingredients such as licorice, ginger, red dates, citrus, cardamon, and alfalfa.

Mushrooms can be effective at helping to build the blood.
Mushrooms can be effective at helping to build the blood.

Blood building foods, due to their high concentration of iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid, are an effective way to relieve anemia, fatigue, paleness, coldness of the body, and amenorrhea.

Apricots can be good for blood building.
Apricots can be good for blood building.
Foods high in iron, such as spinach, are considered blood building foods.
Foods high in iron, such as spinach, are considered blood building foods.
Foods thought to encourage the production of new blood cells may help alleviate fatigue and anemia.
Foods thought to encourage the production of new blood cells may help alleviate fatigue and anemia.

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Discussion Comments


I've been feeling kind of weak. Anemia probably. I started eating some pinto beans, liverwurst, garlic and herb spaghetti, olive loaf bread, chicken noodle soup with spinach and hot chocolate. Don't know if it helped, but I feel better.


You should eliminate wheat germ and wheatgrass as they contain the red cell clotting wGA lectin found in all grass seeds and sprouts.


Here is a list that I found for blood building foods: barley, (organic to avoid GMO), corn, oats, rice, wheat, bran, (organic to avoid GMO), alfalfa sprouts, artichokes, beets, button mushrooms, cabbage, celery, dandelion leaf, dark leafy greens, kelp, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, watercress, wheatgrass, apples, apricots, avocados, dates, figs, grapes, longan, mulberry beans, abzuki, soya, kidney nuts and seeds, almonds and black sesame, fish, mussels, octopus, oysters, sardines and tuna, all red meat, especially bone marrow and liver (beef, pork and sheep), dairy, chicken, egg, herbs and spices, nettle and parsley oils, amasake and molasses (unsulphured). Soymilk, algae, dongui and pollen supplements.


@shell4life – I know that my diet doesn't include enough of these foods, so I gave in and started taking vitamins years ago. I eat fruits and vegetables, so I stay healthy, but I just don't get as much iron as I should.

The vitamins keep my blood supplied with the nutrients it needs, while the fiber from the fruits and vegetables keeps other things running smoothly. Though there may not be a lot of iron or B12 in these foods, they do offer a variety of other essential nutrients, so I continue to eat them regularly. I just have to rely on my vitamins, too.


I didn't know that ginger and cardamom were blood building spices! That makes me feel better, because I drink spicy chai tea every night, and it contains both.

While it tastes nothing like liquid iron supplements that I've tried in the past, it is still good for me. In fact, it is probably even more useful, because I drink it daily, and I can't stand the taste of the supplements, so I quit using them long ago.


Whew! I was glad to read kidney beans on the list here. I was beginning to think that I had never consumed any blood building food until I saw that.

I don't like any of the meats mentioned in the article. I eat only white meat, which isn't as high in iron. However, I eat kidney beans a few times a week, so I think I'm okay.


Also try molasses. It is very high in Iron gives you about 50 percent of your daily needs in one tablespoon. You can also add it to foods like baked beans and sweets like cookies and hot cereals. I add it to cream of wheat or malt o meal which is also very high in iron. Brussel sprouts are another great source of iron.

I was extremely low on iron and started taking iron supplements twice a day (check with your doctor first for your needs) and took one tablespoon of molasses twice a day and I started feeling better immediately. Also make sure you take iron supplements on an empty stomach or they won't absorb properly. It is also best, I have read, to take with Vitamin B12 or it won't absorb. Red meat, chicken and pork are still the best forms and absorb easier than that derived from a plant source.


This is good to know. I lost a lot of blood today, to the point where I passed out and had a seizure and almost ended up going to the ER.


My blood is very low, so please help me.


Guys keep up the good work!


@cmsmith10: Does he like fruit? Some fruits that are high in fiber are dates, peaches, pears, raisins, and figs. I bake muffins and add high iron fruits and it seems to go over well with my children. Purple grape juice is always a hit, too.

I also fix snack trays with fresh berries and cucumbers. These are a good source of iron.


My son is a very picky eater. His pediatrician told me to try to incorporate more iron into his diet. I can assure you that he won't eat spinach or any other greens. What can I try?


Almost all beans, not just kidney beans, are high in iron. Red meats and turkey too, are pretty high in iron.

If you have picky kids, nuts are good for iron and keep your eye out for General Mills cereals, they have redone most of their kids cereals to include extra fiber and iron.

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