You probably remember the animated movie Popeye from your childhood.
Nowadays, children might not watch Popeye as much as some of the adults did when they were young.
And if you remember Popeye, you most certainly remember how he got superhuman strength by eating spinach.
Well, for those of you who want to have muscles like Popeye, I must disappoint you, spinach does not give you superhuman strength.
However, spinach is one of the foods high in iron, and you most definitely want more iron in your diet.
Just to show you that what I am telling you is not in vain, let’s go to the statistics.
According to data from the Center for disease control and prevention, iron deficiency and anemia is one of the most common illnesses people in the United States face.
Latest statistics shows that 9.6% of the residents in the US have iron deficiency http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/anemia.htm.
Let me put it simply: no iron, no hemoglobin production, no oxygen to your body’s vital organs.
And the result is fatigue, feeling of weakness and tiredness.
How Much Iron You Need?
Before we go over to the list, the question always is “how much iron you actually need”.
There is no definite answer, but there are some close numbers that people should oblige to.
For women aged between 19 and 50, the recommended daily dose is 18 mg of iron https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/.
That number skyrockets to 27 mg per day if they are pregnant https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/.
For men at the age between 19 and 50, the recommended daily dose of iron is only 8 mg https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/.
This is one of the reasons why you might ask yourself, “how come my partner does have good circulation, strong blood, and everything, and we practically eat almost the same things”.
Well, the answer is simple, women need much more iron, and therefore, they are easier targets for anemia and iron deficiency https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/nutrition-womens-extra-needs.
How to Get More Iron?
Simply consuming iron-rich foods sometimes is not enough.
You might think that you eat spinach every day, and lots of it, but you are still suffering from anemia.
The reason is, there is a right way, and wrong way to consume foods rich in iron.
The wrong way is to consume them while eating calcium-rich foods or drinking coffee and/or tea.
Your body loses the ability to absorb iron properly when you drink coffee, tea or consume calcium-rich food.
The right way to consume iron-rich foods is to combine them with foods that are rich in vitamin C.
Some options that come to mind are broccoli, orange juice, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, strawberries and so on.
With that being said, let’s go to the list.
Foods High in Iron
Organ meats like giblets and liver are a great choice because not only they are rich in iron, but they are also cheap and a lot more affordable than beef filets, for example.
Beef liver, for example, is one of the best sources of iron, as it contains 5 mg of iron in a single slice http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3817.
Pork liver is also a good option with the benefit of more minerals and vitamin C http://www.jbc.org/content/67/2/517.full.pdf.
One thing to note when you think of liver is to consume it in moderation.
The downside of the liver is that while it is food high in iron, it is actually rich in cholesterol as well.
Pregnant women should absolutely avoid liver since it also contains high doses of vitamin A.
It might be an expensive option, but it is worth investing in a beef meat once a week.
You can always find some affordable beef at the butcher’s shop.
In addition to being rich in iron, beef is also one of the best sources of lean protein https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beef.
Same as with the beef, it is worth to splurge on oysters from time to time, as this seafood appetizer is one of the best foods high in iron.
A single oyster with medium size contains between 3 and 5 mg of iron with the added bonus of zinc and vitamin B http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/4618.
One plate of oysters and you’ve surpassed the daily dose.
If you cannot afford oysters, some cheaper alternatives include squid and food like tuna and haddock.
As you will find out later, legumes are a great source of iron.
And when it comes to legumes, chickpeas are among the best options, as just one cup delivers almost 5 mg of iron http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4326/2.
They are also a good source of protein, making chickpeas among the best options for vegetarians.
You can add them to salads, pasta, salsa dishes and much more.
My advice: blend them to make your own homemade hummus.
Who’s to say that iron-rich foods cannot be sweat?
Dark chocolate is a treat that anyone can afford, not just moneywise, but also health wise.
You probably know that consuming lots of sugar is bad for you.
Well, dark chocolate doesn’t have as much refined and processed sugar as normal chocolate.
Quite the contrary, some nutritionists even call it a healthy alternative http://authoritynutrition.com/7-health-benefits-dark-chocolate/.
In addition to being rich with iron, dark chocolate boosts cognitive thinking.
Finally, we are getting to Popeye’s food on the list of foods high in iron.
You can eat spinach raw or cooked, it doesn’t matter.
One benefit of eating cooked spinach is that your body absorbs iron easier.
One cup of cooked spinach provides you with 6 mg of iron, protein, calcium, vitamin A, E, and fiber http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3504.
Spinach is best when paired with foods high in vitamin C, making it an extremely popular choice for sneaking into fruit smoothies.
One of my favorites is kiwi, apple, spinach and some chia seeds.
Not, I must note that not all cereals are high in iron.
Only fortified versions of cereals contain amounts of iron that is acceptable to balance for the otherwise nutrient-poor breakfast http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/cereals-high-vitamin-b12.php.
You must check the nutritional label before purchasing cereals. Some contain zinc, vitamin B, fiber and calcium in addition to the iron, making them an ideal food for breakfast.
If you want a cheap source of iron, you cannot go wrong with pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of protein, making them an ideal snack between breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pepita.
What I love to do is consume them in the morning, about two or three hours after I have had breakfast.
This way, I am getting some healthy snack to keep me full until my lunch.
And did I mention they are extremely cheap? Yes, I did!
One cup of cooked quinoa provides you with 15% of the daily recommended value of iron https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinoa.
Think about it the next time you ignore this South American delight the next time you walk through the grocery store or the supermarket.
They are also gluten-free and protein high.
Their versatility makes them an ideal seed for everything from muffins to salads.
And they say vegetarians do not get enough healthy nutrients.
Lentils, one of the common choices among vegetarians, provide you with 37% of the daily dose of iron in just one cup https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lentil.
In addition, they are high in potassium and antioxidants, making it extremely easy for iron to be absorbed into your body.
Lentils are also extremely versatile, able to fit in salads, pastries, and everything in between.
Another legume on the list, soybeans provide you with 4 mg of iron in just half a cup https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soybean.
They also come packed with copper, manganese, protein, fiber and lots of healthy amino acids.
You can add them to your food dishes, or consume them on their own by sprinkling some sea salt on top of a cup of soybeans.
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