Friday, 22 April 2011

Let's talk about iron

Popeye knew where to get his iron from

There are many myths associated with pursuing a meatless diet. One of the most commonly trotted out is that we need to eat meat in order to have enough iron in our diets.

It seems to help this myth when those on a meat free diet end up suffering from iron deficiency.  Yet, meat eaters can suffer from this too.

The secret is no matter what diet you follow is to have a balanced diet. 

Tip – To help your body’s absorption of iron, try and have a Vitamin C rich food or drink at the same time. A good old glass of orange juice fits the bill.  So too does grapefruit, papaya, pineapple and passion fruit. Why not have a delicious smoothie with your meal?

Cruelty free iron

Foods rich in Iron

Sure enough, meat is a rich source of iron, but there are an abundance of good sources of this essential mineral -

  • Green leafy vegetables, like broccoli and spinach.   
  • Vegetables that come directly from the ground like potatoes, carrots, leeks, Brussels sprouts, kale, parsley and mushrooms.  
  • Fruit (especially dried fruits) like raisins, avocado, blackcurrants, blackberries, lychees, strawberries, pomegranate etc…
  • Seeds and nuts. The best source of iron are sesame seeds. Pumpkin seeds also have a high amount of iron, as does good old flaxseed (you can buy flaxseed oil and add it to salads and other dishes like stews). Cashews have the highest iron content of any nut type, but most nuts contain iron.
  • Cereals are also fortified with iron, so are certain breads.
  • Beans are a good source of iron. Try chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans.
  • Wholegrain foods such as oats, Quinoa, rye and couscous. Tip – these grains contain a sneaky little ingredient called phytic acid, which may prevent your body from absorbing the iron in these foods. Stop this from happening by steeping grains like oats and Quinoa in water overnight and rinse before use. This will unlock the iron.
Note – there is a medical condition that prevents the human body from absorbing iron. If you believe you have a balanced diet, but still find yourself being anaemic (common signs are being lethargic and tired all the time), then a visit to the doctor may be necessary.

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