Iron is an essential mineral with various critical roles to play, the most important of which is transporting oxygen in the whole body as a component of red blood cells.
Iron is an essential nutrient, which means you can only acquire it through food. Thus, it's Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) in an average Indian adult man is 11 mg, and for women is 15 mg.
To compensate for the iron lost during a female's menstrual cycle, women require more iron than males. This figure may rise to 35-55 mg per day for pregnant or lactating women.
Surprisingly, how much iron your body receives is primarily determined by how much you have stored.
If your daily dietary iron intake is insufficient to replace the quantity you lose each day, you may develop an iron deficiency.
How Does Your Body Utilize Iron from Food?
When you consume iron-rich foods, iron is absorbed primarily through the upper portion of your small intestine. Then, we derive dietary iron in two forms: heme and non-heme.
Heme iron is produced when hemoglobin is broken down. Usually, it can be absorbed by the body very easily and is found in red meats, poultry, fish, etc.
Also, the heme iron sources provide the most quality variety of iron to your body for improved brain function and enhanced body growth.
In contrast, plant-based iron foods deliver the majority of non-heme iron in our bodies.
Nuts, fruits, and veggies are some common sources of non-heme iron, and this type is harder to absorb. Therefore, consuming more Vitamin C-rich foods with plant-based iron foods can help in better iron absorption in your blood.
Why Do We Need to Eat Iron-Rich Foods?
According to a medical camp study in Uttarakhand, out of 5000+ participants, 53.2% of people were facing iron deficiency, out of which females are more anemic than males.
Iron deficiency, like - Anemia, is caused by a lack of iron in the body.
Your body cannot produce enough iron in red blood cells that assist them in carrying oxygen throughout the body.
As a result, Anaemia disease can make you feel exhausted and out of breath.
So, what's the fix for this?
Fortunately, several healthy food options help you achieve your daily iron requirements.
Here are some iron-rich foods to assist you in combating iron deficiency:
5 Iron-Rich Foods that You Must Try to Eat Daily
Spinach is a good source of iron, no matter how you prepare it. Raw spinach has 2.7 milligrams of iron per 100 grams.
Although spinach contains non-heme iron, which is poorly absorbed, it is also high in vitamin C. This is significant because vitamin C improves iron absorption.
Spinach has 15% of the DV (Daily Values) for iron per serving and other vitamins and minerals. It also has significant antioxidants.
Legumes, lentils, and beans of all kinds are high in nutrients.
Beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, and soybeans are some of the most prevalent legumes. Chickpeas are the best source of iron out of all of these.
One cup of cooked chickpeas contains 3.7 to 4.7 mg of iron for an average adult's daily requirements.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are a delicious complement to salads and pasta meals, and they may also be used to make salsa in an unusual way.
If the texture bothers you, purée chickpeas to make homemade iron-rich hummus. Adding lemon juice to your hummus boosts the vitamin C content and makes it easier for your body to absorb the non-heme iron.
Tofu is a soy-based meal that is popular among vegetarians and in Asia.
Around 126-grams serving of raw tofu contains 2.6 to 3.4 mg of iron or 19% of the daily value.
Tofu is also high in thiamine and a variety of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and selenium. Also, each meal portion will contain 22 grams of lean protein.
As per medical research, isoflavones found in tofu have been related to enhanced insulin sensitivity, a lower risk of heart illness, and relief from menopause symptoms.
4. Red Meat
Red meat is both filling and healthy.
According to research, iron deficiency may be less common in persons who regularly consume meat, poultry, and fish.
It is one of the most readily available heme iron sources. Plus, Vitamin B, zinc, selenium, and high-quality protein are also abundant in all red meats.
This cooked Cruciferous vegetable includes 1 mg of iron in a 1-cup (156-gram) serving.
And the highlight of eating broccoli is that cruciferous vegetables contain various essential plant components known to protect you against cancer.
Broccoli contains around 6% of the daily value for iron and is high in vitamins C, K, and folate.
The Key Takeaway
Increasing your iron intake can help you improve your cognitive function, muscle strength, and immune system, among other things.
However, because red meat and other animal-based meals are high in heme iron does not mean overeating such foods. Such foods are also high in cholesterol and cause cardiac problems over time; thus, we should limit our intake of animal-based foods.
If you are a vegetarian, remember that adding a source of vitamin C to plant-based iron sources will always help with the absorption of non-heme iron better.