Iron is one of the essential minerals needed for the body to adequately sustain itself, playing a major role in many of the body’s functions. Without sufficient iron the body may lack enough red blood cells needed to circulate the blood throughout the body. This can lead to iron deficiency anemia and other health issues. To maintain a sufficient amount of iron in the body, a well-balanced diet high in iron including iron-rich vegetables should be followed.
Daily dietary recommendations
According to the recent USDA “My Plate” dietary recommendations, to maintain a healthy diet that includes the essential nutrients you need, you should consume several servings each day of protein, fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy. Iron can be found in many foods such as red meat, chicken, turkey, egg yolks, certain grains, fish and other high-iron foods. Some iron can also be found in vegetables.
The daily recommended dietary allowance (RDA) measured in milligrams (mgs) varies from person to gender to age. The RDA for children aged infant to 3 years is 6-10 mgs, for adolescent and adult females 10-15 mgs, for pregnant females 30 mgs and for adolescent and adult males 10 mgs.
For those who follow a vegetarian, vegan or other restrictive diet that eliminates many of the high-iron food sources such as red meat, extra efforts should be taken to get the recommended amount of iron in your diet. To start with, you should include a large amount of vegetables that are considered iron-rich. As fruits and vegetables for the most part don’t have a lot of iron as compared to other iron-rich foods, you will need to pay special attention to those vegetables that do have the higher amounts.
Top ten iron-rich vegetables
* Morel mushrooms
* Lemon grass
* Horseradish leafy tips
* Winged bean leaves
Additional high-iron vegetables
* Sun-dried tomatoes
* Palm hearts
* Lentil sprouts
* Swiss chard
* Dandelion greens
Some vegetables and other foods, even caffeinated beverages, can act as iron inhibitors and actually decrease or prevent the amount of iron that is absorbed from the food into the body. To increase the amount of iron absorption from the foods you eat, pay close attention to the foods you eat together during a meal, as they may be counteracting each other’s benefits.
Eating vegetables and other foods high in vitamin C is recommended as a way to help minimize the iron-inhibitor effect while increasing iron absorption. Red and green hot chili peppers, red and green bell peppers, papayas, kiwis, guavas, dark leafy greens, fresh parsley, thyme, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, oranges and strawberries are all good sources of vitamin C.
Incorporating a sufficient amount of iron and other nutrients into your daily diet is essential for a healthy mind and a healthy body. Before starting any diet plan or alternative eating habits, consult with your physician or nutritionist to avoid potential health risks or side effects. Your diet plan should take into consideration everything you need from choosing foods to eliminating foods to making appropriate substitutes to adding dietary supplements if needed.