Iron is a very important nutrient for cognitive thinking, memory and also for energy. If you suffer from anemia (iron deficiency) you know that low iron levels can leave you feeling exhausted and weak due to lack of oxygen being delivered to tissues and a buildup of carbon dioxide. Iron rich foods are therefore important for your health.
In the treatment of nutrition related anemia, combinations of nutrient rich foods play a very important role in absorption of iron. For e.g. Iron from corn is better absorbed when eaten with fish or meat, whereas milk inhibits iron absorption. Vitamin C increases iron absorption by a factor of 4. Being a powerful reducing antioxidant agent; it changes ferric iron to better absorbed ferrous form of iron.
How Food Can Maintain Your Iron Balance:
Beetroot and Amla: Beets are extremely important in curing anemia. Beets contain potassium, phosphorous, calcium, sulphur, iodine, iron, copper, carbohydrate proteins, fat,Vitamin B1, B2 niacin,B6 Vitamin P and Vitamin C (that helps absorption). In fact Vitamin C is regarded as the most potent enhancer of iron absorption and vitamin C alone will often increase body iron stores. Thus, the juice of Red beets and amla(that is packed with Vitamin C) strengthen the body’s power to regenerate and re-activate the red blood cells and supplies the body with fresh oxygen.
Banana and Honey:Bananas are particularly beneficial as they also contain besides easily assimilable iron, folic acid and B12, all of which are extremely useful in the treatment of anemia. Drizzle honey over the bananas as it is rich in copper which helps in iron absorption.
Jaggery and Ginger: Regular intake of jaggery in any form with any food will help combat anemia. A person can obtain 3% of iron of daily value from 10grams of jaggery. Regular intake of jaggery with ginger juice helps in better absorption of iron.
Vitamin B-12: Is a must for preventing and curing anemia. The Vitamin is found in animal protein and especially in organic meats like kidney and liver. Vegetarians should include adequate amounts fermented foods like miso & organic soy beans. Peanuts wheat germ and eggs should be included for prevention of anemia. In addition, at least 2 helpings of citrus fruits and other ascorbic acid rich foods should be taken daily.
Fenugreek: The leaves of fenugreek help in blood formation, cooked leaves can be taken to prevent anemia. The seeds of fenugreek are also a valuable cure for anemia being rich in iron. Also the fat soluble chlorophyll molecule is similar to the hemoglobin molecule and is efficiently absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract providing all the structural elements for hemoglobin.
Blackstrap Molasses: Blackstrap Molasses is a great source of iron, about 5 tablespoons of black strap molasses contain 95 percent of your daily allowance of iron. Try to eat foods high in Vitamin C alongside blackstrap molasses- cabbage, broccoli, citrus fruits are all good choices. Foods rich in calcium should be avoided when taking iron rich foods, as they inhibit iron absorption.
In addition to these, include raisins, dates, dried apricots, mangoes, brewer’s yeast, dried beans, lean meats and shell fish to enhance your iron levels. However, there are also several foods and beverages that inhibit iron absorption including coffee, tea, egg yolks and foods high in phytates such as wheat bran. Antacids and over use of calcium supplements also decrease iron absorption. These items should be restricted for individuals with iron deficiency.
About the Author:Shilpa Arora ND is a renowned Health Practitioner, Nutritionist and certified Macrobiotic Health Coach. She has to her credit Doctorate in Natural Medicine. She is currently based in Delhi NCR region, successfully running her Nutrition Studio with individual consultations, offering life style programs supported by the most up-to-date clinical research.