Iron, one of the most abundant metals on Earth, is essential to most life forms and to normal human physiology. Iron is an integral part of many proteins and enzymes that maintain good health.
In humans, iron is an essential component of proteins involved in oxygen transport. It is also essential for the regulation of cell growth and differentiation. A deficiency of iron limits oxygen delivery to cells, resulting in fatigue, poor work performance, and decreased immunity. On the other hand, excess amounts of iron can result in toxicity and even death.
Almost two-thirds of iron in the body is found in hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues. Smaller amounts of iron are found in myoglobin, a protein that helps supply oxygen to muscle, and in enzymes that assist biochemical reactions. Iron is also found in proteins that store iron for future needs and that transport iron in blood. Iron stores are regulated by intestinal iron absorption
What foods provide iron?
There are two forms of dietary iron: heme and nonheme. Heme iron is derived from hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells. Heme iron is found in animal foods that originally contained hemoglobin, such as red meats, fish, and poultry. Iron in plant foods such as lentils and beans is arranged in a chemical structure called nonheme iron. This is the form of iron added to iron-enriched and iron-fortified foods. Heme iron is absorbed better than nonheme iron, but most dietary iron is nonheme iro
Foods High in Iron Content:
Read meat is a rich source of iron. Beef, sheep meat, duck, goose and horses are considered as sources of red meat, which are iron
rich foods. To make your kids, try out some tasty and easy meatloaf recipes.
Beetroot has high level of iron content. This helps in reactivating and regenerating the red blood cells.
Its not just meant for Popeye, but for all his fans. Spinach, the generously green plant is one of the popular iron foods. In a serving of 180g of spinach, body gets 6.43mg of iron.
Broccoli, similar in structure to cauliflower is high in iron. The iron rich vegetable can be boiled and with a little sprinkle of salt,Broccoli will be ready for the table.
Almonds, the exquisite nuts of Middle East are iron rich foods. An ounce of almonds in daily diet, will give you 6% of daily iron requirement.
Dates are dry fruits which foods with high iron content. They also provide the body with essential nutrients and thus are supposed to have multiple health benefits.
Fenugreek, native of Indian land, is used both as a herb and spice. This vegetable is one of the important iron rich foods. The natural source of iron is good for building hemoglobin and for long term health benefits.
Asparagus belongs to the plant family and has over 300 species. 'Asparagus officinalis' is the edible asparagus, and is considered to be high iron food item. For healthy eating try incorporating asparagus soup or asparagus salad in your daily meal.
This high in iron food, can be eaten raw. It also provides Vitamin C, K and A to the body. For delicious preparations use it in salads and sandwiches.
Swiss Chard is has innumerable health benefits. Swiss chard is recommended as improve the intake of iron for those suffering with iron deficiency and even to those who want to prevent one!
Kale is an excellent source of iron. Kale cabbage is an ultimate source of iron. You can fry it or boil it, the vegetable is sure to give you your daily dose of iron.
Corn helps in reducing iron deficiency. The rich in iron food is easy to cook and healthy to eat. Spinach and corn combination is lovely and a hit among kids, try it out for dinner tonight!
Everybody loves potatoes! Potatoes are iron absorption enhancers and baked potatoes with skin are foods with high iron content. So have them for breakfast, lunch or dinner, potatoes rule the roost! Experiment with the potato recipes for discovering interesting flavors.
Clams are shellfish and foods with high in iron content. They are freshwater and marine water seafood. They are extremely easy to cook and are found in the coastal cuisines.
Oysters are iron rich foods. This type of shellfishes have contain, magnesium, zinc, calcium and copper.
Raisins are a good source of iron for those who are suffering from anemia. Raisins also act as antioxidants, which are important for protection of cells. The high iron food tastes the best with chocolates, if that's an incentive!
Figs are foods high in iron. The fruit can also be consumed as laxative and is an delicious substitute for sweets. The native of western Asia, fig can be cooked or eaten raw.
The benefits of carrots are immeasurable. The beautiful color of the carrot is tempting enough to include it in your diet. You can make salads, juices or even eat raw.
Whole wheat breads are iron rich foods and are thus recommended for improving iron intake. Whole wheat breads also provides the body with carbohydrates and fiber.
Watermelon is the 'iron fruit'. Its sweet taste is awaited by many in all round the year. The fruit rehydrates the body and provides the essential richness of iron.
The rich red color of tomatoes in a good enough indicator that tomatoes are high in iron. 8 ounces of tomato juice in food preparation provides the body with 1 mg of iron. Tomato recipes also add to the nutritional value of the meal.
Sunflower seeds are iron rich foods. A 1/4th cup of sunflower seeds gives the body 1.2 mg of iron.
Dried apricots if given to anemic people, the iron content in the body will improve steadily. The fruit is easy to digest and nutrients like vitamin A and vitamin C.
Lentils are native of India and are foods high in iron. They are a part of Indian square meal and are eaten to avert iron deficiency. Other than that they have essential amino acids.
Green peas are also foods high in iron content. They help in blood cell formation and function, and thus help in preventing anemia.
Soybeans are a rich source of iron. Having ¾ cup gives you 6.5mg of iron dosage.
Tuna sandwiches are yummiest snacks. You can use tuna in salads, grill it or roast it. The fish is simply a gourmet's delight and high iron food.
Alfalfa is a herb and has many nutrients. The herb has a high content of iron. Having 1 cup of of herb can give you .32 mg of iron.
Barley is a clear king of all nutrients. Its a must in the regular diet. The cereal not only has iron but is rich with copper, magnesium, selenium and zinc.
Chickpeas are mandatory for healthy living as they are a good source of iron. Having 200g of chickpeas will provide the body with 6.2mg of iron.
Bran Flakes is what we start our day with. Right from kids to adults have bran flakes as the first meal of the day. The iron rich foods are easily available and in variety of flavors. Eating 45g of bran flakes give 5.3mg of iron.
Museli is a nutritional supplement, and thus prescribed by gym instructors. They are toasted oats and can be eaten with milk. 60 g of museli in breakfast gives the body 2.76mg of iron.
Tofu, a cheese like food content is high in iron. Having 4 ounces of tofu will give you 6mg of iron. Tofu can be fried, added to salads and even to curries.
Green beans are a rich source of iron and can be eaten fresh. Frozen green beans have a longer shelf-life and can be used all round the year. Fresh green bean recipes are mouthwatering treats for one and all.
Cashews are edible nuts and a very good source of iron. Having ¼ cup of nuts gives the body 2.1mg of iron. Cashews are ground into pastes so that they can be used to make delectable curries.
Soy yogurt has a trace of iron. However, its a good substitute for buffalo milk. Having 6 ounces of soy yogurt gives the body 1.1mg of iron. Soy products are wonderful in taste and healthy as they are less calorific.
Millet is a cereal crop of Asia. Popularly known as Bajri or Jowar in India, the crop tops the list of iron rich foods. Having one cup of millet gives the body 1.1mg of iron.
Sesame seeds are edible seeds, often used as a spice in Indian food. Commonly known as til in Maharashtra, it adds to the flavor and improves the nutritional value of the food by increasing the iron content. 2 tsbp of sesame seeds give 1mg of iron.
Finger Millet or Ragi
Finger Millet or Ragi is fantastic source of iron. Mostly consumed in western and southern parts of India, Ragi or nachni is cooked as bhakri, kind of a flat bread, as kheer, a sweet porridge and ladu, a sweet ball like preparation.
Sprouts are Kala Chana, alfalfa, moong and barley. These seeds are juicy and add to the taste of salad or any curry preparation. They high in iron content and can be boiled too.
Lima beans is ideal for anemia sufferers. It replenishes the iron content in the body with iron, bringing back the energy levels. Lima beans are also excellent for person dealing with diabetes.
Pork Roast is generous source of iron should be included as a part of diet to prevent anemia. Having 3 ounces of it gives the body 2.7mg of iron.
Kidney beans or rajmah is a vegetarian's delight. The beans are make extremely tempting curries. An icon of Punjabi dhabas, rajmah's red color is enough to talk about its high iron levels.
Egg yolks are important sources of iron and are very important part of the diet. If you are fitness conscious don't completely avoid yolks, because then you'd be missing out on the iron.
Eating a variety of foods that contain iron is the best way to get an adequate amount. Healthy individuals who eat a balanced diet rarely need supplements. Intakes of iron tend to be low in relation to recommendations, and there aren't that many foods that are really good sources; thus, it may take special care to ensure an adequate intake. Many doctors recommend feeding a fortified milk formula or breakfast cereal or giving an iron supplement to infants and toddlers, because it is especially difficult to meet their iron needs. Doctors usually prescribe iron supplements for pregnant or lactating women. The list of foods will help you select those that are good sources of iron as you follow the Dietary Guidelines. The list of good sources was derived from the same nutritive value of foods tables used to analyze information for recent food consumption surveys of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Human Nutrition Information Service.
What is the recommended intake for iron?
A good food source of iron contains a substantial amount of iron in relation to its calorie content and contributes at least 10 percent of the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (U.S. RDA) for iron in a selected serving size. The U.S. RDA for iron is 18 milligrams per day. (The U.S. RDA given is for adults, except pregnant or lactating women, and children over 4 years of age.)
The U.S. RDA for iron is the amount of the mineral used as a standard in nutrition labeling of foods. This allowance is based on the 1968 Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for 24 sex-age categories set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences. The 1989 RDA has been set at 15 milligrams per day for women 19 to 50 years of age and 10 milligrams for men 25 to 50 years of age.
Some facts about iron supplements
Iron supplementation is indicated when diet alone cannot restore deficient iron levels to normal within an acceptable timeframe. Supplements are especially important when an individual is experiencing clinical symptoms of iron deficiency anemia. The goals of providing oral iron supplements are to supply sufficient iron to restore normal storage levels of iron and to replenish hemoglobin deficits. When hemoglobin levels are below normal, physicians often measure serum ferritin, the storage form of iron. A serum ferritin level less than or equal to 15 micrograms per liter confirms iron deficiency anemia in women, and suggests a possible need for iron supplementation.
Supplemental iron is available in two forms: ferrous and ferric. Ferrous iron salts (ferrous fumarate, ferrous sulfate, and ferrous gluconate) are the best absorbed forms of iron supplements. Elemental iron is the amount of iron in a supplement that is available for absorption.
Iron deficiency is uncommon among adult men and postmenopausal women. These individuals should only take iron supplements when prescribed by a physician because of their greater risk of iron overload. Iron overload is a condition in which excess iron is found in the blood and stored in organs such as the liver and heart. Iron overload is associated with several genetic diseases including hemochromatosis, which affects approximately 1 in 250 individuals of northern European descent. Individuals with hemochromatosis absorb iron very efficiently, which can result in a build up of excess iron and can cause organ damage such as cirrhosis of the liver and heart failure. Hemochromatosis is often not diagnosed until excess iron stores have damaged an organ. Iron supplementation may accelerate the effects of hemochromatosis, an important reason why adult men and postmenopausal women who are not iron deficient should avoid iron supplements. Individuals with blood disorders that require frequent blood transfusions are also at risk of iron overload and are usually advised to avoid iron supplements.
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