Iron is dubbed to be an essential component in our body. It helps promote blood production, respiration and proper functioning of the body. Deficiency of iron may lead to several health issues including anemia. As per the World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics states, this condition is found in approximately 33% of non-pregnant women, 40% of pregnant women, and 42% of children worldwide. “Iron-deficiency anaemia is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world, and in India, it affects more than 600 million people,” states Nutritionist Lovneet Batra. Therefore, it is vital for people, especially women, to increase their daily iron intake.
Also Read: 5 Foods & Tips That WHO Recommends To Prevent Iron Deficiency
However, the amount of iron you consume in a day might not necessarily be absorbed by the body, informs Lovneet Batra. You might be loading up your diet with iron-rich foods but the body might be absorbing only one-fourth of it. What to do in such a situation? As per Lovneet Batra, select the foods you eat depending on how to enhance or inhibit the absorption of iron.
Giving us a clear direction, the health expert, in an Instagram post, lists down some Dos and Don’ts of diet, which may complement better iron absorption. Take a look:
Also Read: Iron-Rich Breakfast: These 5 Breakfast Recipes May Help Combat Iron Deficiency
Do’s of Iron Absorption:
1. More Vitamin C:
Vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, lemons, amla, tomatoes, berries, kiwi, melons, green leafy vegetables and capsicum, in the diet can help absorb iron better. You can either add a teaspoon of lemon to a bowl of dal or have a stuffed paratha/chapati with amla chutney.
2. Vitamin A:
According to Lovneet Batra, Vitamin A helps release iron that the body stores. Therefore, an adequate amount of this vitamin in the body plays an important role in preventing iron deficiency anaemia. Food sources of beta-carotene and vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, squash, red peppers, cantaloupe, apricots, oranges and peaches.
3. Soak, Sprout and Ferment Legumes:
The nutritionist explained that soaking, sprouting, and fermenting grains and legumes can improve iron absorption by lowering the amount of phytates, naturally present in these food items.
4. Plant Food:
Consume plant foods like legumes and quinoa with your iron-rich meals. Rich in amino acid lysine, legumes and quinoa accelerate iron absorption in the body.
Also Read: 7 Vitamin C Drinks That Will Get The Iron Levels In Your Body Pumping
Don’ts of Iron Absorption:
While minerals are equally essential for the body when in too much quantity they prevent iron from binding and absorbing in the body. Minerals like zinc, copper, magnesium, and calcium are positively charged, which means they have the same binding site as iron therefore, they prevent it from binding and absorption.
2. Calcium and Phosphorus:
Minerals like calcium and phosphorus also “inhibit the absorption of nonheme iron. So, the nutritionist suggested adding a glass of milk between the meals instead of consuming dairy to the main meal.
3. Leafy Vegetables:
Green leafy vegetables are an integral element of a balanced diet and are known to be rich in iron. But, leafy vegetables also contain oxalates which impair the absorption of nonheme or plant-based iron. Oxalates are basically compounds which are derived from oxalic acid, and are found in food items like spinach, kale, beets, herbs like oregano, basil, and parsley. “The presence of oxalates in spinach explains why the iron present in this leafy vegetable does not get absorbed,” Lovneet Batra added.
Don’t consume tea, coffee, or milk around meals that are loaded with iron-rich foods.
Follow these healthy diet tips and enjoy an overall good health. Eat healthy, stay fit!
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