You may pump iron at the gym a few times a week, but your body pumps it continuously through the bloodstream every day. Iron is an essential mineral that can be found in our foods and is needed to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Then, it picks up carbon dioxide and drives it back to the lungs where it is exhaled.
There are 2 kinds of iron – heme and non-heme.
The body absorbs heme iron more easily. It is found in animal products like:
- Lean beef
- Lean pork
Heme iron also helps the body absorb non-heme iron more easily. Try one of these iron-rich recipes from registered dietitians.
- Sriracha Teriyaki Ground Turkey Meatballs by Kroll’s Korner
- Flank Steak with Creamy Chimichurri by RDelicious Kitchen
- Waldorf Chicken Salad Wrap by Love & Zest
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork by Liz’s Healthy Table
- Easy Fish Tacos by Real Mom Nutrition
Non-heme iron is found in plant foods. Although the body absorbs less of the iron in plants, every bite counts, and adding a source of vitamin C will enhance iron absorption. Some sources of vitamin C include strawberries, cantaloupe, oranges and orange juice, broccoli, bell peppers and potatoes, to vegetarian sources of iron will enhance absorption.
Some of the best plant sources of iron are:
- Beans, including pinto, kidney, soybeans, and lentils
- Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Enriched rice
- Whole grain and enriched breads
Looking for iron-rich plant based recipes? Try these recipes that already include vitamin C for more efficient iron absorption.
- Easy Southwest Buddha Bowl by Sara Hass, RD
- Eggs in a Nest via Rachael Hartley Nutrition
- Sweet and Spicy 30 Minute Curry by Street Smart Nutrition
- Harvest Kale Salad by The Foodie Dietitian
- Collard Greens and Tempeh BBQ Bowls by Delicious Knowledge
To prevent iron deficiency, eat a balanced, healthy diet that includes good sources of iron. Avoid drinking tea or coffee with meals. These decrease absorption of iron.
What are your favourite sources of iron? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to download Luvo’s 7-day meal and fitness plan for more nutrition tips and recipes.
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