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Cardiovascular Diseases |  Debjani M Arora
Pump Up The IRON - Top 7 foods to up your iron intake
September 25, 2021

If you are suffering from iron-deficiency anaemia or know someone suffering from the same, try adding these iron-rich foods to the diet, to counter the problem. We are listing for you the best iron-rich foods from animal and plant sources. Read on to know.

 

Iron is a vital mineral that is important for our body and its well-being. It is found in many foods that we eat. The primary function of iron is to produce haemoglobin in the red blood cells that carry oxygen to every cell in the body. So, a lack of iron in your diet can lead to low levels of haemoglobin (anaemia) and less oxygen supply to the cells. This can have a detrimental impact on your health and lead to a dip in energy levels, fatigue, lethargy and extreme tiredness. 

 

If you feel any of these symptoms mentioned here, it is better to check on your haemoglobin levels once. The symptoms could be indicative of low iron intake through your diet. Severe iron-deficiency can also lead to organ failure at times. 

 

Why do we need iron? 

 

As mentioned earlier, it helps in the production of haemoglobin and improves your blood count. Lack of it could lead to iron-deficiency anaemia (IDA) that continues to be a significant public health problem in India. It is estimated that about 20% of maternal deaths are directly related to anaemia and another 50% of maternal deaths are associated with it. The saddest part is, this problem can be rectified with some simple changes in the diet. You can take care of this deficiency by eating iron-rich foods without turning to supplements, unless necessary. 

 

How much iron do you need? 

 

Your daily iron requirement depends on your age, sex, weight and other health parameters. 

Here are the current Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for iron:

 

Group

Particulars

Body Wt (kg)

Iron (mg/day)

Man

Sedentary Work

60

17

Moderate Work

Heavy Work

Woman

Sedentary Work

55

21

Moderate Work

Heavy Work

Pregnant woman

35

Lactation

25

0-6 months

6-12 months

Infants

0-6 months

5.4

46 μg/kg/d

6-12 months

8.4

5

Children

1-3 years

12.9

9

4-6 years

18

13

7-9 years

25.1

16

Boys

10-12 years

34.3

21

Girls

35

27

Boys

13-15 years

47.6

32

Girls

46.6

27

Boys

16-17 years

55.4

28

Girls

52.1

26

Reference Book : Nutrition Science by B Srilakshmi




How to increase your iron intake through diet? 

 

There are two kinds of dietary iron

Heme iron: This comes from animal sources such as chicken, fish and beef

Non-heme iron: This comes from plant sources such as kidney beans, tofu, soybean etc.

 

Here is the list of foods that are a great source of iron

Legumes: There are a host of them - beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, soybeans - all are a great source of iron. Pulses too, make for a good iron punch. 

 

Nuts: Peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, pine nuts, hazelnuts tops the list when we talk about iron-rich nuts. Munching on a handful can take care of your iron intake. 

 

Seeds: Chia seeds and pumpkin seeds are a good source of iron; use them for garnishing dishes or munch on them. Nigar seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds are excellent options too. 

 

Green leafy vegetables: Spinach, broccoli, silverbeet, kale and mustard greens are a brilliant option for iron-rich foods, but if you want to include leafy vegetables to up your iron intake, don’t miss out on - koronda leaves, bengal gram leaves, cowpea leaves and dill leaves or shepu. They top the list among leafy greens for iron-rich foods. Don’t forget to pick them up when you go grocery shopping the next time. 

 

Beetroot: Talking about iron sources, you cannot miss out on this red and plump root veggie. It is an excellent source of iron and Vitamin C. Iron content: 0.8 milligrams per 100 grams of beetroot; need no more reason to add them to your diet. 

 

Red meat: Of course, many studies have shown that consuming red meat can be dangerous for your health. But know that it is also a great source of heme iron, which is readily absorbed by the body and prevents iron-deficiency. Love red meat? Have it in moderation. 

 

Other non-veg foods: Organ meat, especially liver is a great source of heme-iron. You can get your fair share of the same from goat liver, pork liver, chicken liver. Opt for small dried prawns, dried bombay duck, if you are a fish lover. Eggs also top the lists of iron-rich foods. 

 

Ingredient

Iron (mg) / 100 gm

Goat, Spleen

51.41

Karonda Dry

39.1

Rice,Bran

35

Chingri Small Dried

27

Bengal Gram Leaves

23.8

Pork, Liver

20.74

Cowpea Leaves

20.1

Bombay Duck Dried

19.1

Cumin Seeds

20.58

Niger Seeds, Black

18.19

Coriander Seeds

17.64

Shepu

17.4

 

Here are some recipes you can try to include more iron-rich foods in your diet: 



Iron rich Recipes

       

Recipe Name

Serving Unit

Grammage

Iron (mg)

Recipe Links

Liver Masala Dry

Medium Bowl

139.2

12.29

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkCtPnAT41U

Dill Leaves Green Gram Dal Dry Vegetable

Medium Bowl

134.4

12.44

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FZdTy_YYQY




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