Iron as a mineral is present in many foods. It is also added to some processed foods or even taken as dietary supplements. Iron rich foods are important to our diet as they help to fight anemia arising due to iron deficiency. Iron deficiency anemia is a condition in which the RBCs are lower in number due to little iron available in the body. Your body cannot produce enough hemoglobin due to low levels of iron. Hemoglobin is a substance present in RBCs that carries oxygen to the cells.
About 3% of men, 20% of women and 50% of pregnant women experience deficiency in iron. In such cases, it is good to consume iron rich foods.
Best way to get Iron from your Iron rich foods
To maintain required iron levels in the body, it is best to understand the differences between the types of iron. Iron is basically of two types; heme and non-heme. Heme iron is found only in meat and eggs. The body absorbs more readily the heme iron than the non-heme which is present in vegetables. But if you consume non-heme with vitamin C, your body absorbs as easily as it absorbs heme iron from animal sources.
Iron Rich Foods for Vegetarians
Many of the iron rich foods also contain vitamin C or can be paired with foods rich in vitamin C. According to a research, this is one of the reasons vegetarians do not suffer from iron deficiency than omnivores at greater rate.
The top ten Iron rich foods include
- Spinach (Processed) contains 5 mg of iron per cup
- Jerusalem artichokes which are raw contain about 5mg of iron per cup
- Raw lemon grass which contains about 5 mg of iron per cup
- Spinach (Cooked, boiled and drained) contains about 6 mg of iron per cup
- Potatoes contains about 7mg of iron per cup
- Dried oriental radishes contains about 8mg of iron per cup
- Tomato products (canned or sauce) contains 8 mg of iron per cup
- Raw morel mushrooms contains about 8 mg of iron per cup
- Green raw soybeans contains 9 mg of iron per cup
- Dried seaweed or spirulina contains 32 mg of iron per cup
Some easy ways of adding iron to your diet is to include tomato-based soup, tofu-vegetable stir fry, vegetarian chili and tomato & bean salad. Also you can add fresh bean sprouts to your salad, soup or in place of lettuce to sandwich for extra iron.
Iron is also present in cereals and pasta fortified with iron. If you are looking for whole grain which is naturally high in iron, then try amaranth or quinoa in place of brown rice and its good to have them with vegetables or beans. In order to have iron rich foods for your breakfast, try oats or buckwheat. You can add pumpkin seeds, nuts and fruits rich in vitamin C such as strawberries to your breakfast as well.