Iron is an essential nutrient of the body that you don’t want to be deficient in. The body uses iron to make hemoglobin in red blood cells that help in the free flow of oxygen in the body. The nutrient also helps to carry carbon dioxide from various parts of the body to the lungs that help to exhale it. A deficiency in this nutrient leads to a condition called anemia that reduces the flow of oxygen in the body and puts you at various risks. The good thing is you can boost your iron levels, either naturally or through supplements.
Read on to know more about anemia and natural foods to increase the levels.
What is Anemia?
Iron deficiency anemia is the most common kind of anemia. Anemia is described as the condition of the body where there is a reduced number of red blood cells. It is due to the body’s inability to create red blood cells or blood loss or destruction of red blood cells.
The function of Red Blood Cells is to produce a protein called hemoglobin. It is only through adequate levels of iron in the body that hemoglobin can create enough red blood cells. This helps in promoting blood circulation rich in oxygen throughout the body.
Symptoms of Anemia
Anemia can show various signs that may appear as a common illness, but it must be analyzed:
The symptoms are as follows:
- Poor concentration
- Reduced immunity
- Dry hair
- Lack of sleep
Foods that can fight anemia
There are some natural ways to boost the iron levels of your body by consuming these iron-rich foods-
1. Leafy greens-
- Spinach is renowned for its health benefits.
- It is famous as it is rich in vitamin C, which boosts iron absorption.
- It is also rich in antioxidants that reduce the risk of cancer, inflammation, and the risk of eye infections.
- If you consume 1 cup of cooked spinach, you consume more than 6 mg of iron and vitamins A, E, protein, fiber, and calcium. It can be used in various delicious recipes, depending on your taste buds.
2. Sesame seeds-
Sesame seeds are a great source of iron. They contain about 20 gm of iron per serving and is a storehouse of essential nutrients like copper, phosphorus, zinc, and Vitamin E. You can add them to your salad to fuel your body with a healthy requirement of iron.
Did you know they were rich in iron? A 100 gm serving may contain up to 28 mg of iron that is 155 % of RDI. It is a heme iron found in shellfish, which is easier to absorb by the body compared to non-heme iron found from plant sources. It is rich in nutrients and increases healthy cholesterol levels in the body.
4. Animal Proteins –
Red Meat, Liver, Eggs are rich sources of iron. Egg yolks contain 1 mg iron, 3 ounces of red meat contain 2 to 3 mg of iron, and 1 mg of pork will contain about 3 ounces.
Giblets, especially liver, are very rich in iron. It is said that 3 ounces of the beef liver contains 5 mg of iron. Pork is an even better option as it has higher levels of iron. Organ meats are rich in proteins, copper, and selenium. So if you are a meat eater and suffer from anemia, these are one of the best ways to boost the iron levels in the body. But, do not eat over the recommended limit as it contains Vitamin A in large amounts, which can result in vitamin A toxicity.
They are one of the richest sources of iron and a staple in the Indian diet. A cup of this legume provides 5 mg of iron. It is also one of the natural and healthiest sources of protein and is an excellent option for vegetarians. You can make the famous Indian style chickpea curries or add it to kinds of pasta and salads. You can also make a homemade hummus to derive all its nutritional benefits.
They are the richest sources of proteins. The bonus is that every cup of soybean offers 4 mg iron and along with other necessary minerals like copper, manganese, etc. These help to boost immunity and help to maintain blood circulation in the body. The manganese helps in the functioning of many chemical processes in the body.
They can be made into various recipes or simply enjoyed with a sprinkle of salt.
7. Black beans-
Every cup of black beans serves up to 4 gms of iron. They are an iron-rich food and are delicious when cooked. They can be added to broccoli, cauliflower, kale that are rich in Vitamin C and aids in assisting the absorption of nonheme iron in the body. You can add them to the salad, make a puree to go with assorted veggies or stir fry them.
You must have noticed the sudden popularity of quinoa in recent times. It is rightfully so as it contains high nutritional value and is gluten-free, making it an excellent choice for those suffering from gluten intolerance.
- 185 gms of cooked quinoa offers 2.8 grams of iron.
- It also contains proteins and is rich in magnesium, folate, manganese, and copper. It is rich in antioxidants that protect the cell from radical damage as a response to oxidative stress.
- It provides 15 % of the RDI per serving.
- It is the healthiest of all meats and delicious as well.
- One hundred grams of turkey serve contains 2.3 grams of iron, which is 13 % of the RDI.
- It is also considered a slice of healthy meat as it is rich in proteins, several vitamins and minerals, and contains 30 % of the RDI for zinc and 58 % of RDI for Selenium.
- Consuming turkey will not only increase iron intake, but also aids in weight loss. It makes you stay full longer and boosts the metabolism rate.
- Always consume iron-rich food with foods rich in vitamin C to upgrade iron absorption in the body. It includes oranges, lemons, tomatoes, strawberries, etc.
- Avoid eating food that blocks iron absorption when you are on an iron-rich diet for anemia.
- Follow an iron-rich diet that contains beta carotene, for example, red peppers, apricots, and beets that improve absorption.
- Add a Vitamin B 12 rich diet to increase blood cell production.
The bottom line
Anemia can affect different age groups in a different manner. It can happen to anyone at any age. It is a must to see a doctor when fatigue or related symptoms last for a long period of time. A blood test is usually done to identify low hemoglobin, and based on that count, you may be advised of a diet, supplements, or blood transfusion. Iron deficiency has reasonably become very common in most people due to our unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle.
Jennifer is a wellness lifestyle writer. She loves sharing her thoughts and personal experiences related to natural remedies, Ayurvedic, yoga and fitness through her writing. She currently writes for How To Cure. She can connect with others experiencing health concerns and help them through their recovery journeys through natural remedies.