#atozchallenge: The I Post

Iron.

20160408_103958.jpg

No not that kind.

The reason iron is interesting to me is that I know quite a few vegetarians and some vegans. I gravitate more toward that style of eating too.

Non-meat eaters need to be sure they have adequate circulating iron and iron stores in the body or they will experience iron deficiency anemia. Without iron to make hemoglobin, the blood can’t carry enough oxygen to properly fuel body cells. What it feels like is weakness, fatigue, inability to keep warm. It shows up as paleness in skin that should be pink.

The bad news is that plant sources of iron are of a form that is not easily absorbed by our bodies. A good deal of the iron in meat, about 40% of it, is a form that is easily absorbed which is why meats are a good source of the mineral.

The good news is that, amazingly, vegetarians and vegans do not have higher incidences of iron deficiency anemia. And no one, whether they eat meat or not, has to worry about it if they follow a few smart eating tactics with their plants sources of iron.  In fact, dried beans and green leafy vegetables are better sources of iron per calorie than meat. Here are some tricks that will help your body absorb it:

  • Combine an iron rich plant food with a source of vitamin C (absorb up to 5 times more iron)
  • Avoid drinking coffee or tea at the same time as iron rich foods (the tannins in those drinks block absorption)
  • Eat less at a time (your body gets overwhelmed with large amounts, as in supplements, and absorption is limited)
  • Cook with cast iron (really, get a well-seasoned iron pan and use it!)
  • Get your iron from a variety of iron rich foods (many of them already come combined with vitamin C – eat that broccoli!)

Here is the list of foods high in iron:

Beans, peas, lentils, blackstrap molasses, dried fruits, green leafy vegetables, potatoes, nuts and seeds, seaweed (kelp and nori), soy products, whole grains.

Click here for today’s iron rich, fast and easy recipe.  Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup