Here is the list of best Iron sources you can add to your daily dish to get rid of Iron deficiency.
Our body needs iron to perform a wide variety of physiological functions.
If your daily diet doesn’t contain enough iron, your hemoglobin levels would drop.
This may lead to anemia, which will make it difficult for you to remain as active as before.
The mineral can be present in food items in two different forms. They are:
- Heme: You will find iron in this form only in animal sources.
- Non-heme: This type of iron, on the other hand, is found only in plants.
An average individual should consume 18 mg of iron per day. That’s the official RDI (recommended daily intake) value of the mineral.
However, your individual requirement might vary depending on your lifestyle, health, gender, etc.
For example, postmenopausal women and men usually don’t need to consume more than 8mg of the mineral per day.
Menstruating women and expecting mothers, on the other hand, should respectively consume 18 mg and 27 mg of iron every day.
Here, we would like to mention that human body finds absorbing non-hem iron more difficult than absorbing heme iron.
So, if you are a vegan or vegetarian, your doctor will most likely advise you to consume 1.8 times more iron compared to what he would have advised to a meat eater.
This write-up would educate you about some of the most powerful sources of non-heme iron.
Best Non Heme Iron Sources (Vegetables)
A cupful of raw tomato would offer you just 0.5 mg of iron. This will change significantly if you consume concentrated or dried tomatoes.
For example, 118 ml or half cup tomato paste would provide you with 3.9mg iron. This converts to 22% of your recommended daily intake.
A cup or 237 ml of tomato sauce, on the other hand, contains 1.9 mg of the mineral. This would provide you with 11% of your RDI.
The iron-content of sun-dried tomatoes is also pretty impressive. Half cup of sun-dried tomatoes contains 1.3 mg to 2.5 mg of iron.
Another great thing about tomatoes is that they are filled with vitamin C, a nutrient playing an essential role in iron absorption.
2) White Beans
Beans irrespective of its type have high iron content. However, none of them have more iron than white beans.
A cup of white bean contains as much as 7.83 mg of the mineral. This converts to around 45% of a woman’s RDI.
And if you are a postmenopausal woman or a man, just having a cup of white beans would be enough for you.
Some might find it difficult o make enough time for sorting and soaking dry beans. These people can surely opt for the canned version.
However, keeping an eye on the product’s sodium content is mandatory.
You can have boiled white beans just by seasoning them with a bit of salt and pepper and can also prepare a salad using them. They also taste great when added to pasta, soups, and stews.
As mentioned above, you can get iron from most other bean types. These include lima beans, red kidney beans, navy beans, etc.
Each cup of cooked lima beans, red kidney beans, and navy beans would provide you with 4.4 mg to 6.6 mg of iron. The iron contents of black-eyed beans and chickpeas are also impressively high.
There are more reasons of including the above-mentioned beans in your daily diet besides their high iron content.
They are also potent sources of nutrients like fiber, complex carbs, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, folate, and a range of other useful plant compounds.
According to experts, regular consumption of beans would help you in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
3) Spinach and other Leafy Greens
Spinach and other leafy greens like swiss chard, kale, beet greens, and collard contain 2.5 mg to 6.4 mg iron in every cooked cup.
This means consuming a cup of these leafy greens would provide you with 14 to 36% of your RDI for iron.
If you have iron deficiency and have healthy kidneys, your doctor will surely ask you to consume a bowlful of spinach every day.
The recommendation wouldn’t change irrespective of the fact whether you are a vegetarian/vegan or meat eater.
That’s because the iron content of 100g spinach is 2.2 times more than that of 100g salmon and 1.1 times more than that of 100g red meat.
What’s more, the iron content of 100 g spinach is also more than the same quantity of chicken (3.6 times) and boiled eggs (3 times).
As spinach (and other leafy greens) are extremely light in weight, you might find it difficult to consume 100g of raw spinach. So, you should eat them cooked.
A cup of cooked lentil contains 6.6 mg iron, which converts to 37% of your RDI.
Other than iron, this food item also contains high quantity of fiber, complex carbs, protein, manganese, and folate. When cooked, a cup of lentils offers 18g protein and approximately 50% of our RDI for fiber.
One cup dried halves of apricots would provide you with 4.1mg iron. This makes apricots a common plant product recommended to people requiring iron supplementation.
Other than iron, this dry fruit is also a rich source of antioxidants, essential minerals and vitamins, and fiber.
You can snack of apricots when traveling as they are extremely easy to carry along.
Here, we would like to mention that the sugar content of dried apricots is pretty high. So, if you are a diabetic or trying to lose weight, you should take this dry fruit in moderation.
Sources of Iron for Human Body (Infographic)
Things You Must Know About Iron Intake
We have already mentioned how iron deficiency can cause anemia.
Some common symptoms of the condition are:
- Pale skin
- Fatigue and weakness
- Heart palpitations
- Cold feet and hands
- Loss of appetite
- Brittle nails
- Soreness of the tongue
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should get yourself checked by a doctor.
Once you are diagnosed with anemia, your doctor might prescribe an iron supplement and recommend adding the above food items in your daily diet.
Other than consuming an iron-rich diet, you should also consume enough vitamin C. That’s because vitamin C deficiency might stop your body from absorbing the iron you are getting from various plant sources.
Here are some food items containing good amount of the vitamin:
- Bell peppers
- Cantaloupe melon
- Kiwi fruit
- Citrus fruits
- Sweet potatoes
It’s also important to avoid supplements, beverages, medications, and foods that can prevent iron absorption.
You should stay away from the following items for a couple of hours before and after consuming an iron-rich meal.
- Dairy products
- Calcium supplements
- Peppermint tea
- Black tea
- Red wine
- Antacid medications
If you abide by the guidelines provided above and incorporate these good iron sources in your diet, you will never develop iron deficiency and related health complications.