Top 6 Iron-Rich Foods
Having a lack of energy and feeling fatigued? You might be deficient in iron!
I have suffered iron deficiency anemia as long as I can remember and been eating iron supplements every now and then since I was twenty or so. When I got pregnant, I got tired off all of those supplements as those weren’t that tummy friendly. So, I learned from the basics how to boost my iron levels naturally, by eating the right foods. And that was the best decision I’ve ever made as since that I’ve had no need for any kind of iron supplements, my hemoglobin levels have stayed pretty good!
I’m not going to go any deeper of anemia, but in a nut shell, iron is essential nutrient for producing red blood cells, which help store and carry oxygen in the blood. And lacking the number of red blood cells can mean your organs and tissues don’t get enough oxygen. Not good. Iron deficiency anemia/ low levels of hemoglobin may cause weakness, extreme tiredness, pale skin, fast heartbeat, shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, poor appetite, cold hands and feet, brittle nails…. List just goes on and on, but I’m sure that you got the point. Not good!
Iron can be found in two forms in foods; heme (only found in animal products) and non-heme (only found in animal products), which is less easily absorbed. You can enhance your body’s absorption of iron by eating foods rich in vitamin C at the same time that you eat iron including foods. Foods like red meat, liver, seafood and sardines are commonly known iron-rich foods, but as many of you don’t eat animal-based products, I wanted to list my favorite plant-based iron-rich foods. Plus, gram per gram, vegetables often have a higher iron content than foods typically associated with high iron, such as meat and eggs 😉 .
Ps. Spirulina would be a number one non-heme source of iron, but because of its intense flavor and a bit difficult use (it’s not always that easy to find in local stores and hide in normal, everyday meals as the flavor of it isn’t that tempting), I didn’t add it on my list. But just letting you know; It’s a superstar!
Legumes. Also, including beans (especially soybeans), peas (chickpeas and black-eyed peas have the highest iron content) and lentils, are great sources of iron. In addition, soy products are good sources of protein, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.
Also, lentils are one of my favorites because in addition to that, they are iron-filled food, they contain a significant amount of protein, complex carbs, fiber, folate and manganese as well. They’re really cheap and very versatile too!
Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are good sources of non-heme iron, as well as a bunch of other vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy fats and beneficial plant compounds. Pistachios are one of the best nut sources of iron and my other favorites are almonds, cashews, pine nuts and macadamia nuts, and let’s not forget nut butters! Pumpkin, sesame, hemp and flaxseeds are the seeds richest in iron, and they also contain good amounts of plant protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium and antioxidants.
How about some hummus made of chickpeas and tahini with veggie sticks for a snack today?
Leafy greens. Such as spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard and beet greens are super good choices, as they include also many other essential nutrients. Some may find difficult to consume enough of these light weight, greens when raw, but if you cook them (especially spinach!), you tend to end up eating more since it cooks down so much, which means even more iron per spoonful!
Whole grains. Whole grains generally contain more iron than refined grains. Spelt, oats, quinoa and amaranth are my favorites and particularly rich in iron. These all are also packed with several other nutrients and plant compounds beneficial to health. As you already may have noticed, oats are very often used in our household as they are tasty and easy to add in diet and full of iron, good amounts of plant protein, fiber, magnesium, zinc and folate. Just to mention few of the beneficial nutrients!
Raisins. Especially for a fruit, these little things have significantly high content of iron per serving. Other great fruit sources of iron are prunes and figs.
Dark Chocolate. Yes, a good reason to have piece or two of good quality dark chocolate every day! In addition, it includes a nice amount of iron, it’s also really powerful source of antioxidants, and some fiber, magnesium, copper and manganese.
Now that’s one healthy dessert option!
If you’re also deficient in iron, I suggest you consume at least two or three servings of these iron-rich foods daily.
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