What Should I Eat Before Donating blood


What Should I Eat Before Donating blood? This is a sufficient question because if you are going to donate blood, you should ensure that you have a good experience and can feel comfortable during this process. Donating blood is an easy and important thing to do. You can visit your local Red Cross Center or hospital to see if there is a voluntary blood donation program in your area.

Does It Matter What You Eat Before Donating Blood?

Donating blood is a selfless act that helps others. But before and after you give, focus on your health by making wise selections regarding what you eat and drink.

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Your body’s natural recovery process after donating blood can be boosted by what hits your plate and fills your glass. Getting the right nutrients and hydrating can help you avoid fatigue and more quickly replenish a depleted blood supply.

What to eat before giving blood

Here’s the good news: You’ll be eating pretty well if you follow advice on what to eat before donating blood, says Dr. Pickering Beers. The suggested foods could fill a lot of favorite meal lists.

Most of the recommendations center on upping your intake of iron, which helps make red blood cells. Iron is a building block for hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries life-sustaining oxygen around your body.

So, on to meal planning!

Iron-rich foods

Your diet delivers two different types of iron — simply classified as “heme iron” and “nonheme iron” — to your system. Of note: Your body takes in heme iron much more efficiently than nonheme iron.

“You absorb about 30% of the heme iron in food compared to less than 10% of nonheme iron,” says Dr. Pickering Beers.

It’s best to start going a little bit heavier on iron-rich foods a few days before donating blood to avoid flirting with anemia. The goal is to keep your iron levels up and help your body run the way it should after giving blood.

Food has two types of iron — heme and non-heme iron. Heme iron is found in meat, fish and poultry. It is the form of iron that is most readily absorbed by your body. You absorb up to 30 percent of the heme iron that you consume. Eating meat generally boosts your iron levels far more than eating non-heme iron.

Non-heme iron is found in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts. Foods with non-heme iron are still an important part of a nutritious, well-balanced diet, but the iron contained in these foods won’t be absorbed as completely. You absorb between two and 10 percent of the non-heme iron that you consume.

When you eat heme iron with foods higher in non-heme iron, the iron will be more completely absorbed by your body. Foods high in vitamin C – like tomatoes, citrus fruits and red, yellow and orange peppers – can also help with the absorption of non-heme iron.

The amount and type of iron in your diet is important. Some iron-rich foods are:

Meat and Eggs

  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Ham
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Veal
  • Pork
  • Dried beef
  • Liver
  • Liverwurst
  • Eggs (any style)


  • Shrimp
  • Clams
  • Scallops
  • Oysters
  • Tuna
  • Sardines
  • Haddock
  • Mackerel


  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peas
  • Broccoli
  • String beans
  • Beet greens
  • Dandelion greens
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Chard

Bread and Cereals

  • White bread (enriched)
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Enriched pasta
  • Wheat products
  • Bran cereals
  • Corn meal
  • Oat cereal
  • Cream of Wheat
  • Rye bread
  • Enriched rice

Vitamin-C Rich Foods

Adding vitamin C to your meals helps your body absorb iron. It actually counteracts the effects of calcium, polyphenols, phytates, oxalates and tannins in foods that can impair iron absorption, Yeung explains.

Some foods rich in vitamin C include the following, according to the USDA:

  • Kiwi
  • Bell peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Oranges
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Kale

Best Food Sources of Vitamin C

In this video, learn the fruits and vegetables with the most vitamin C to keep the immune system strong.

Time to bust a major health myth: When you feel a cold coming on, a vitamin C supplement will stop your sniffles in their tracks, right?

According to science, nope. It’s true that vitamin C may help keep the immune system strong and capable of fighting off infections, but you’re better off regularly eating vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables than taking a supplement when you’re already sick. A classic 2007 study looked at 11,350 people who had symptoms of the common cold. Researchers gave some a vitamin C supplement and others a placebo. The researchers didn’t really find a difference between the groups: Peoples’ colds lasted just as long and were just as yucky.

Of course, vitamin C does more than just ward off the sniffles. It can help heal wounds, improve the absorption of iron, and protect cells from damage by free radicals. Eating foods rich in vitamin C (not supplements) may also help lower your risk of lung, breast, and colon cancers.

Here’s how much vitamin C you should aim for: Women over age 19 need about 75 mg a day, and men need 90 mg. During pregnancy, women should up their intake to 85 mg of vitamin C a day, and then get 120 mg of vitamin C a day while breastfeeding.

Oh, and if you smoke, you’ll want to add 35 mg of vitamin C to the numbers above. Cigarettes expose the body to more free radicals, so you’ll need extra vitamin C. (And obviously: Better yet, quit smoking altogether. Here are strategies to quit smoking you can try.)

To keep your immune system in top form, try these rich food sources of vitamin C.

  • Tomato juice: 130 mg of vitamin C in 6 oz
  • Red bell pepper: 95 mg of vitamin C in ½ cup
  • Papaya: 95 mg of vitamin C in 1 small fruit
  • Strawberries: 50 mg of vitamin C in ½ cup
  • Grapefruit: 40 mg of vitamin C in ½ cup
  • Raw broccoli: 30 mg of vitamin C in one spear
  • Cantaloupe: 30 mg of vitamin C in ½ cup cubes
  • Mango: 30 mg of vitamin C in ½ cup cubes
  • Red cabbage: 25 mg of vitamin C in ½ cup chopped
  • Cooked collard greens: 20 mg of vitamin C in ½ cup

What to Eat for Breakfast Before Donating Blood

Before giving blood in the morning, try:

  • Fortified cereal with a calcium-free plant-based milk alternative
  • Spinach and fruit smoothie made with water or calcium-free plant-based milk alternative
  • Oatmeal with dried fruit and calcium-free plant-based milk alternative
  • Sweet and Savory Apple Hummus Toast on iron-fortified, seven-grain bread: Apples are a source of vitamin C, providing 11 percent of your daily value, per the USDA. You could also add a side of berries or sparkling water juiced up with a burst of orange.
  • Trail mix with nuts and seeds plus a piece of fruit.

Lunch and Dinner Ideas

Here are some more delicious recipes with iron and vitamin C:

  • Spaghetti with meat sauce using extra lean ground beef (a source of heme iron) and unsalted tomato sauce (which has vitamin C).
  • Almost Cobb Salad Bowl: It’s a layered dish of skinless chicken breast, boiled egg, kale, tomato, avocado and corn dressed with tangy lemon vinaigrette. (Skip the cheese to avoid that extra hit of calcium that might interfere with efforts to boost your iron absorption.)
  • Chicken and Avocado Black Bean Soup, which features C-rich cherry tomatoes and a squeeze of lime juice.
  • Lentil Raisin Spinach Salad is a tasty way to amp up iron in your diet.


Roughly 90% of your blood is water, so you’ve got some fluid to replace after donating a pint of blood to avoid dehydrating. That process should start ahead of your appointment and continue afterward, says Dr. Pickering Beers.

She recommends drinking an extra 16 ounces of water (or other nonalcoholic fluid) the day before your donation. Afterward, aim to drink an extra 32 ounces.

Keeping your fluid levels high is key to keeping your blood pressure at the right level during your blood donation. (Loss of blood can lead to a drop in blood pressure, which could cause dizziness.)

An added bonus of being hydrated? Your veins tend to pop up a little more, which can make the donation process go more smoothly.

What to Eat the Morning of Donating Blood?

What to Eat the Morning of Donating Blood

Whether you’re nervous about needles or feel faint at the approach of a figure in a lab coat, donating blood can be intimidating. But every two seconds, someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion, and donations are the only way blood and certain components like platelets can be acquired; they can’t be manufactured. A single blood donation can save up to three lives, but you also need to take care of yourself by resting, hydrating and eating properly beforehand.

The Morning of Your Donation

Preparing for your blood donation boils down to taking good care of yourself. On the morning before you donate, the American Red Cross recommends drinking an extra 16 ounces of water before your appointment and eating a healthy meal with iron-rich foods in it. Avoid fatty foods, especially those rich in saturated fats like hamburgers, French fries and ice cream.

Other Tips for the Day Of

Before you head out to make your blood donation, put on a short-sleeve shirt; if you’d rather have a long-sleeve shirt, make sure you can roll the sleeves up above your elbows. Bring a book to read or something else to keep you entertained while you donate and for a short period afterward. If you take any medications, don’t vary the dosage or schedule unless you’ve consulted your physician first.

Consume Water-Soluble Vitamins

Among the water-soluble vitamins, vitamin B6, folic acid and vitamin B12 deficiencies are common. Such a vitamin deficiency can be prevented among frequent blood donors by regular multi-vitamin supplementation. However, ask your doctor before starting with any supplement.

Besides this, blood donors must consume foods rich in vitamin C, in order to boost the iron absorption.

Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking 500 ml of water before blood donation reduces the risk of a drop in the blood pressure, which can otherwise make you feel dizzy. This is because more than half of the blood is water. Make sure you hydrate yourself before donating blood. Avoid drinking alcohol 24 hours before blood donation as it may lead to dehydration.

Eat a Healthy Snack

Eat a healthy and nutritious snack before blood donation. This will help to keep your blood glucose levels stable. Do not eat foods that are high in fat. This will increase the amount of fat in the blood and such a blood sample cannot be tested for the presence of infections. Hence, such blood samples will be rejected.

Tips on Diet Before Donating Blood

It’s no secret that donating blood can take a lot out of you—literally and figuratively. While some fatigue after giving up a couple pints of your blood is inevitable, you can counter some of the effects by priming yourself with nature’s best fatigue-fighter: iron.

That’s not the only reason to prioritize your iron intake: lacking adequate amounts of iron in the blood could affect your ability to donate. Your blood undergoes a screening before donation that checks your hemoglobin levels. Sufficient hemoglobin in the blood helps transport oxygen to your body’s tissues. If screenings show your hemoglobin is too low, you will be turned away, according to the American Red Cross.

Eating properly before and after your blood donation will ensure that you have enough hemoglobin to donate and you can prevent excessive fatigue after your good deed. Here’s what to eat (and what to avoid) to beat fatigue after a blood donation.

1. DO eat lean, iron-rich foods.

This one’s a no-brainer. Leading up to your blood donation appointment, enjoy fish (especially oysters), poultry, beans, lentils, tofu, potatoes, cashews, spinach, raisins, and iron-fortified cereals and breads.

2. DON’T eat fatty foods.

After donating, your blood will be tested for infectious diseases like hepatitis C and HIV. Too much fat in the bloodstream can affect the screening. If they are unable to get an accurate reading of your blood, your donation will be discarded. (Yep, that means losing a pint of blood for nada.) Skip burgers, ice cream, fries, and other greasy foods to keep excess fat out of your bloodstream.

3. DO add vitamin C to your meals.

Vitamin C increases your body’s ability to absorb iron. In general, your body does not soak up each ounce of iron available in an oyster or chicken wing; only a fraction is actually absorbed. Combining iron-rich foods with other ingredients high in vitamin C will increase the amount your body can absorb. Tomatoes, papaya, citrus, broccoli, and spinach are all great sources.

4. DON’T drink alcohol before or after.

For 24 hours before and after your blood donation, skip your evening glass of red wine.

5. DO drink more water.

The American Red Cross recommends getting an extra 16 ounces of water in the day before and after your donation. (That means 16 ounces more than what you would typically drink for proper hydration.

6. DON’T take aspirin 48 hours before if you’re donating platelets.

Platelets aid in forming clots to stop bleeding when you’re cut or wounded. These little cells have to be used within five days of donation, so they are in constant demand. Aspirin affects the function of the platelets, so you will not be able to donate with aspirin in the bloodstream. (Ibuprofen is just fine.)

7. DO have a healthy snack after donating.

Many blood donation drives will provide snacks, but it’s a good idea to bring your own just in case (especially if you have food allergies or other dietary restrictions). Come prepared with something light and abundant in iron to help you restock your hemoglobins. Trail mix or bars made of nuts and dried fruit (like KIND or Larabars) are great options since both cashews and raisins are good sources of iron.

Beyond what goes in your belly, the other important self-care tip is to rest. Get a good night’s sleep before donating, relax and take it easy as you’re getting the blood drawn, and avoid heavy lifting or intense exercise for at least 24 hours afterwards.

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