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World Blood Donor Day: What Foods To Eat & Avoid Before Donating Blood

World Blood Donor Day is observed every year on 14 June. It aims to raise awareness of the need to donate blood to ensure that all individuals and communities have access to affordable and quality-assured blood and blood products. The event also serves to thank voluntary, unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood and encourage new donors.

The World Blood Donor Day 2019 theme is "Safe blood for all".

Donating blood has a lot of health benefits, but it can lead to some side effects like anaemia and fatigue. Eating and drinking the right foods before and after donating blood can lower the risk of side effects.

What Foods To Eat Before Donating Blood

Iron-rich foods [1]

    Food has two types of iron, heme and non-heme iron. The former one is found in meat and fish and this iron is readily absorbed by the body. You absorb around 30 per cent of the heme iron you consume.

    Non-heme iron is found in plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Your body absorbs about 2 to 10 per cent of the non-heme iron you consume.

    Before donating blood, consider increasing your intake of iron-rich foods as it will help elevate the iron stores in your body and reduce your risk of iron-deficiency anaemia.

    Some of the foods that you could have are iron-fortified cold and hot cereals (top it with raisins for an additional boost of iron), eggs, meat, fish and shellfish, vegetables and fruits help in boosting iron.

    You could try out this banana and date smoothie for increasing your iron intake!

    Drink plenty of fluids

    Half of your blood is made of water so, it's necessary to stay hydrated before donating blood [2] . When you donate blood, your blood pressure can become very low, leading to dizziness. The American Red Cross recommends drinking at least 2 cups of water before donating blood.

    Either have freshly squeezed home-made juice or plain water. Skip tea and coffee as it can interfere with the absorption of iron.

    Low-fat foods

    Before giving blood, have a well-balanced, low-fat meal as eating a high-fat meal can interfere with the blood testing process, because too much fat in the blood will make it impossible to test the blood for infections.

    You could have a ½ cup serving of low-fat milk with a bowl of hot or cold cereal. Having a piece of fruit with low-fat yogurt or a slice of whole-wheat bread with jam or honey is also a good low-fat breakfast option.

    Vitamin C-rich foods

    Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that helps in better absorption of non-heme iron (plant-based iron) [3] . Having vitamin C-rich foods before donating blood is a good idea because it will help your body absorb more iron.

    Drinking two glasses of orange juice will increase the vitamin C content in your body. Other citrus fruits like kiwis, berries, melon, grapefruit, and pineapple are also good sources of vitamin C.

    ALSO READ: Vitamin C: Health Benefits, Dosage And Side Effects

    What Foods To Avoid Before Donating Blood

    Fatty foods

    As discussed earlier, fatty foods like ice cream, doughnuts or French fries should be avoided as they affect the blood testing process for infectious diseases.

    Foods that block iron absorption

    Certain foods and beverages such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and high-calcium foods can affect the body's ability to absorb iron [4] .


    Alcoholic beverages cause dehydration. So, avoid drinking alcohol 24 hours prior to donating blood.

    ALSO READ: Alcohol Use Disorder (Alcoholism): Causes, Types, Symptoms & Treatment


    According to the American Cancer Society, if you are donating blood platelets, your body should be aspirin-free for at least 36 hours before donating blood. Because aspirin makes blood platelets less useful to a transfusion recipient.

    What Foods To Eat After Donating Blood

    Folate-rich foods

    Folate, also known as folic acid, vitamin B9, or folacin is required by the body to create new red blood cells. This aids in replacing lost blood cells during blood donation [5] . Foods that contain folate are dried beans, liver, asparagus, and green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach. Orange juice is also a good source of folate.

    Vitamin B6-rich foods

    After you donate blood, foods high in vitamin B6 are needed by the body to build healthy blood cells and they aid the body in breaking down proteins, as proteins contain many nutrients you require after donating blood [5] . Some of the vitamin B6 foods you could eat are potatoes, eggs, spinach, seeds, bananas, red meat, and fish.

    Iron-rich foods

    Iron is another essential mineral required by the body to make haemoglobin. After donating blood, eat foods that contain a good amount of iron.

    Drink Water

    Drink an extra 4 cups of water over the next 24 hours to replenish the lost fluids.

    Guidelines For Donating Blood According To The WHO

    • The blood donor must be 18 to 65 years of age and should weigh at least 50 kg.
    • You can't donate if you have a cold, flu, cold sore, or any other infection.
    • If you have recently done a tattoo or body piercing, you aren't eligible for donating blood for 6 months.
    • You also can't donate blood if you have visited a dentist recently.
    • If you do not meet the minimum haemoglobin level for blood donation, you shouldn't donate.
    • Pregnant and breastfeeding women, people with AIDS, type 1 diabetes patients and blood cancer patients are not eligible to donate blood.
    View Article References
    1. [1] Skikne, B., Lynch, S., Borek, D., & Cook, J. (1984). Iron and blood donation.Clinics in haematology,13(1), 271-287.
    2. [2] Deepika, C., Murugesan, M., & Shastry, S. (2018). Effect of pre-donation fluid intake on fluid shift from interstitial to intravascular compartment in blood donors.Transfusion and Apheresis Science,57(1), 54-57.
    3. [3] Hallberg, L., Brune, M., & Rossander, L. (1989). The role of vitamin C in iron absorption.International journal for vitamin and nutrition research. Supplement= Internationale Zeitschrift fur Vitamin-und Ernahrungsforschung. Supplement,30, 103-108.
    4. [4] Hallberg, L., & Rossander, L. (1982). Effect of different drinks on the absorption of non-heme iron from composite meals.Human nutrition. Applied nutrition,36(2), 116-123.
    5. [5] Kalus, U., Pruss, A., Wodarra, J., Kiesewetter, H., Salama, A., & Radtke, H. (2008). Influence of blood donation on levels of water‐soluble vitamins.Transfusion Medicine,18(6), 360-365.
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