Do you eat enough iron rich foods ? Did you know that beans and lentils are not only a good source of protein, but also a rich source of iron? Did you know that if you are deficient in iron , it may weaken your immune system , and you may be more prone to infection ?
Iron is important for a strong immune system and without enough iron you can become prone to infection.
A friend of mine donates blood a few times a year. Often when she goes, they don't accept her blood because her hemoglobin levels are too low. They give her flyer which explains how to increase iron levels. She is surprised because she is not a vegetarian, but her levels are frequently low non the less. The good news is that after about 3-4 weeks of following their suggestions, her iron levels return to the normal range.
Information and suggestions from the Community Blood Council of New Jersey, Inc. ( 2008)
- Hemoglobin is the oxygen -carrying pigment and major protein in the red blood cells. Iron rich foods help individuals maintain healthy levels.
- There are two types of iron rich foods. Heme iron which comes from animal products like meat, poultry, and fish and Non-heme iron which comes from fruits, vegetables, and grains. Although heme iron is more easily absorbed, if you eat foods rich in Vitamin C with non-heme iron sources, the Vitamin C increases absorption.
Foods That Help Absorption
Cantaloupe, broccoli, tomatoes,
strawberries, peppers, white wine
Foods that Inhibit Absorption
Coffee, tea, red wine, bran, fiber,
Beware : Spinach is rich in iron; however, it also contains oxalic acid which is an iron inhibitor. In order to absorb more of the iron in spinach, cook and then drain before eating. Oxalic acid is water soluble and will wash away in the water.
Men require about 10 mg of iron a day, while women require about 18mg a day.
Iron is an important mineral and essential for energy and strong immune system.
According to the Mayo Clinic a deficiency in iron can lead to the following symptoms:
■Shortness of breath
■Dizziness or light headedness
■Cold hands and feet
■Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
■Increased likelihood for infection
Vegetarian/ Vegan Iron Rich Sources
1. Cooked beans and lentils 1 cup 4.7 mg
2. Dark Leafy Greens ( cooked) 1 cup 6 mg.
3. Prune Juice 1/2 cup 5.2 mg
4. Sesame Seeds /pumpkin seeds/ watermelon seeds ( dried) 1 oz. 4 mg.
5. Walnuts 1/2 cup 3.75 mg.
6. Dried Fruit 2 ounces 1.5- 2.0
It is no surprise that many ethnic recipes have depended on iron rich beans or lentils.
Try this delicious Middle Eastern Iron Rich Recipe
A traditional recipe popular in Middle Eastern countries. Simple, yet very tasty. Top with diced tomatoes and Greek yogurt.
Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 25-30 minutes
2 large yellow onions, diced
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup brown lentils, washed
1 cup brown rice or white rice, washed
salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon of cumin
4 and 1/2 cups water
Saute diced onions in olive oil until browned. Add rice and lentils to mixture and saute an additional 1-2 minutes until rice and lentils are coated and a little toasted. Cover with water, add salt, bring to a boil, simmer covered for about 25-30 minutes until rice and lentils are tender and water is absorbed.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, and this information is for educational purposes only. Always check with your doctor before making any changes in your diet.