Iron is an important ingredient that you should incorporate into your daily diet. Besides all other nutrients, minerals and vitamins, the need for Iron is equally responsible to grow and develop our body. Incorporating Iron in our daily diet helps to prevent anaemia and protect our body from infection. If you are not fulfilling your plate with the sources of iron-rich foods, then with the help of this article we will try to figure out some of the best foods that are rich sources of iron, and thus you should consume them for your daily dietary intake.
Food has two types of iron, heme and non-heme iron. Heme iron is found in meat, fish and poultry. It is the form of iron that is most readily absorbed by your body. The human body absorbs up to 30 per cent of the heme iron that we consume. Eating meat generally boosts your iron levels far more than eating non-heme iron. Whereas non-heme iron is found in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts. Foods with non-heme iron are still an important part of a nutritious, well-balanced diet, but the iron contained in these foods won’t be absorbed as completely. We absorb between 2 and 10 per cent of the non-heme iron that we consume in our daily food habits.
When we eat heme iron with foods higher in non-heme iron, the iron will be more completely absorbed by our body. Foods high in vitamin C, such as tomatoes, citrus fruits and red, yellow and orange peppers helps with the absorption of non-heme iron
Deficiency of Iron
If our body doesn’t absorb its needed amount of iron, it becomes iron deficient. Symptoms appear only when iron deficiency has progressed to iron deficiency anaemia, a condition in which the body’s iron stores are so low that not enough normal red blood cells can be made to carry oxygen efficiently. Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies and the leading cause of anaemia globally.
Some of the Symptoms include are as follows: –
- Pale skin and fingernails
- Glossitis (inflamed tongue)
Benefits of Consumption of Iron
- Iron treats Anaemia – Anaemia is a disease caused due to the deficiency of Iron. Anaemia is caused due to the loss of red blood cells. And if your red blood cells don’t work properly and don’t transmit oxygen to other organs you will feel sick, fatigued and weak.
- Boosts Haemoglobin – Iron boosts haemoglobin which is vital to transport oxygen in the blood. Women lose more blood during their menstrual cycles and so they probably can suffer from low haemoglobin. So, women should always take more care of their haemoglobin rate in blood.
- Reduces fatigue – Iron helps in reducing fatigue that causes both men and women equally. Low iron levels can reduce energy levels.
- Boosts Immunity – Iron boosts the immunity and immune system. It increases haemoglobin that provides oxygen to damaged cells, tissues and organs.
- Improves Muscle Strength – If you are low in iron then you have chances of muscle weakness. Week muscles cause pain and will leave tissues inflamed. Iron will repair tissues and reduce pain.
Factors Affecting the Absorption of Iron
- Consuming iron-rich foods in combination with foods rich in vitamin C like lemons, oranges, tomatoes etc. increases the absorption of iron.
- Cooking our food in iron cookware, especially cast-iron pans increases the iron content of the food.
- Having tea or coffee along with meals reduces the absorption of iron by 70 to 80 per cent.
- Soaking and sprouting improve the absorption of iron in the body.
- Heme iron obtained from animal sources like meat, poultry, and seafood is better absorbed by the body than non-heme iron from plant sources like grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables etc.
Best Source of Iron Foods
1.) Chickpeas – Chickpeas are considered one of the best sources of iron. Chickpeas, a type of legume, provide 3.7 mg of iron per cup, per the USDA, making them an excellent source. They also deliver lean, plant-based protein14.6 g per cup, to be exact.
2.) Spinach – Spinach is also considered one of the best sources of iron. 100 grams of spinach contains 2.7 mg of iron. It also contains 28 mg of vitamin C. Vitamin C also helps iron to be absorbed better in our body. Cooking spinach with tomatoes also helps in better absorption of the iron present in spinach by our body. Apart from iron and vitamin C, spinach also contains vitamin A, K and minerals like magnesium and manganese. It is good for our eyes and bones and is also used to regulate blood pressure in patients with hypertension. It also reduces the risk of cancer and relieves constipation.
3.) Fish and Meat – Poultry food items and meat are also considered one of the best sources of iron. 100 grams of red meat contains 2.7 mg of iron. It is also very rich in B complex vitamins, selenium, zinc, and protein which are all very beneficial for the overall health of the human body.100 grams of chicken contains 1.3 mg of iron.
4.) Whole Grains – Whole Grains are also considered one of the great sources of iron. Whole grains such as wheat, millets, oats, brown rice and quinoa all contain iron. 100 grams of oats contain 4.7 mg of iron while quinoa contains 1.5 mg of iron. Wheat has 3.9 mg of iron per 100 grams while millet contains 3 mg. besides all, whole grains also contain fibre, proteins, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It also improves our digestion and may reduce the risk of heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, obesity, cancer etc.
5.) Dried Fruits – Dried fruits are also considered one of the best sources of iron. Dried fruits like prunes, raisins and apricots are good sources of iron. 100 grams of prunes contain 0.93 mg of iron while raisins contain 2.6 mg of iron. Apricots have 6.3 mg of iron per 100 grams. However, taking note of the dried fruit’s health benefits, it has been observed that prunes as one of the dried fruits help in digestion and lower cholesterol levels in our body. Raisins are also good for digestion and make our bones strong. Apricots are rich in antioxidants and promote eye, skin and good health.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a health advice. We would ask you to consult a qualified professional or medical expert to gain additional knowledge before you choose to consume any product or perform any exercise.