What to Eat and Drink Before & After Donating Blood

Blood donation is a noble act that may help you save the lives of others. 

Any adult in good health should be able to donate blood safely. 

Your body will replace the lost fluids within a few days of donating blood and the red blood cells (RBCs) after about two weeks.

Though blood donation is a safe procedure, you should still know what to do before donating blood to minimize any side effects.

This article describes what to eat and drink before and after giving blood, along with some blood donation tips.

What to Eat and Drink Before Giving Blood

It is very important to eat and drink regularly before blood donation. This helps to maintain stable blood sugar and blood pressure levels and prevents the symptoms of dizziness or faintness after blood donation.

1) Foods Rich in Iron

Iron is a vital element in the production of blood. It is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin, the protein present in RBCs, which binds oxygen and transfers it to all the cells of the body.

Before blood donation, it is good to increase your intake of foods rich in iron. 

This is to increase the levels of iron in the body and avoid developing iron deficiency anemia after donating blood.

Dietary iron comes in two types: Non-heme iron and heme iron. The body absorbs heme iron (up to 30 percent) more easily than non-heme iron (up to 10 percent).

Some of the foods that are a rich source of heme iron are:

  •  Meat. Lamb, beef, pork, ham, and veal
  •  Poultry. Turkey and chicken
  •  Fish and shellfish. Shrimp, tuna, mackerel, clams, haddock, crabs
  • Eggs.
  • Organ meats. Liver

Some of the foods that are a rich source of nonheme iron are:

  • Beans. Kidney beans, garbanzo beans, white beans, black beans, lentils, and dried peas
  • Fruits. Strawberries, figs, dates, raisins, prunes, watermelon, and peaches
  • Vegetables. Sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, kale, peas, collards, chard, beet greens, and dandelion greens
  • Cereals and breads. Whole wheat and enriched cereals and breads

2) Foods Rich in Vitamin C 

When discussing what to eat before donating blood, vitamin C-rich foods form an important component. 

This is because vitamin C helps the body absorb the iron obtained from plant foods more effectively.

Vitamin C is present in a wide variety of fruits, including:

  • Blueberries
  • Mango
  • Strawberries
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Kiwifruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Raspberries
  • Citrus fruits and their juices

3) Water

Water makes up almost 50 percent of the blood you donate. Therefore, it is important to be well-hydrated before giving blood.

During blood donation, there may be a drop in blood pressure due to loss of fluids, resulting in dizziness.

According to the guidelines by The American Red Cross, you should drink an extra 16 ounces of water or any other nonalcoholic drink before donating blood.

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Foods To Avoid Before Donating Blood

There are certain things, including foods and drinks, that you should avoid before giving blood.

1) Alcohol

Avoid alcoholic beverages at least 24 hours (one day) before giving blood. Alcohol causes dehydration and may delay recovery from blood donation.

2) Fatty Foods

Avoid eating fatty foods such as fries, donuts, ice cream, or a hamburger before giving blood. 

Fatty foods may affect the results of the blood tests done to rule out any infectious diseases.

Eating fatty foods may also affect your blood sugar levels, causing issues in blood donation. 

3) Aspirin

If you are taking aspirin, it is recommended to stop it at least 48 hours before giving platelets (a different procedure than donating whole blood). 

However, it is important to talk to your healthcare physician before you stop any medicine. 

4) Foods That Affect the Absorption of Iron

Consuming certain drinks and foods may reduce iron absorption in the body. It isn’t necessary to completely avoid these foods; instead, you can avoid consuming them with iron supplements or foods rich in iron.

Foods that may affect iron absorption are: 

  • Chocolate
  • Tea and coffee
  • Red wine
  • Foods high in calcium, such as cheese, milk, and yogurt
Foods to eatFoods to avoid
Foods rich in ironAlcohol
Foods rich in Vitamin CFatty foods
 Foods that affect iron absorption

What to Eat and Drink After Donating Blood?

Relax for a couple of minutes in the recovery area and enjoy the snacks or cookies you are provided. 

Also, ask for some liquid to drink. This helps to stabilize the blood fluids and sugar levels.

You should drink an extra 32 ounces or four glasses of liquids during the initial 24 hours after giving blood. You should also avoid alcoholic beverages during this period.

Eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet rich in the following minerals and vitamins:

  • Iron
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B12 (B2, B6, B9)

If you are a frequent donor, make sure to include multivitamins containing iron in your daily routine. This helps in replenishing the iron stores in your body before your next blood donation.

vitamins for energy

How Do You Feel After You Give Blood? 

Most people who give blood experience no adverse effects after donating blood. You will be asked to wait in the recovery area for some time to make sure you are fine.

After having a light snack and a drink, you may return safely to your routine activities.

According to The American Red Cross, it is recommended not to do any vigorous physical activity or heavy lifting during the remaining day after donating blood.

If you develop bleeding from the needle site, raise the arm straight up or apply pressure for five to 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops.

If you develop symptoms of lightheadedness or fainting, stop whatever you are doing at that moment and lie down or sit down until your symptoms are better. 

In such cases, avoid doing any activity for 24 hours where fainting may cause injury.


Blood donation is a quite simple yet effective way to help the community. For a successful blood donation, you should eat healthy foods and drink lots of fluids before donating blood. It is also important to get enough sleep the night before donating blood.

By following the general suggestions and recommendations, you can donate blood frequently without experiencing any major side effects.

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