Iron is an important nutrient, it helps us have healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout our body. It is a relatively easy nutrient to diagnose a deficiency, a simple blood test can determine if a person has adequate iron status or not. Iron deficiency can cause fatigue, decreased healing, shortness of breath and more. Many people believe that meat is the end- all- be all source for iron, but there is a much bigger picture that we need to look at when we talk about iron. Iron is a nutrient that is found in many foods, yet when we eat it the amount that is bio-available (the amount we actually absorb) can be rather miniscule. There are two types of food sources for iron, the one that comes from animal sources is called "heme iron" and the one stemming from plant sources is "non-heme iron." Non-heme iron is only abosrbed about 2-5% by the body so unless you are eating truck loads of spinach everyday the iron from plant sources is not very relavant. Meat sources allow your body to abosrb about 15-35% of iron from them, making them a more valid source for iron. This comes at a contradictory stance to what we are constantly being told by the media, which is to decrease the amount of red meat we eat. So how are we supposed to get enough iron? What if we could increase the amount of iron your body absorbs from plants? If you can remember the following tips you will be able to increase the amount of iron your body absorbs from heme and non-heme sources.
1. A Good Guarantee Is Vitamin C
Vitamin C is the peanut butter to iron's jelly! Vitamin C can help the body absorb up to 2.9 fold of the amount of iron from a plant source. For the recipe above that is why we used 3 oranges. We marinated the steak in orange juice, added it to the root vegetable mash, and used it in the spinach and kale. By adding as much vitamin C to the meal we are going to get as much bang for the iron buck as humanly possible. Citrus is a huge carrier of vitmin C and tastes delicious on all greens so get in the habbit of adding it to leafy green foliage that you eat on a regular basis.
2. Increase the Power of the Leaf by Adding Beef
Unless you are a vegan or vegetarian I would highly reccomend making beef your star iron protein. By adding beef to your meal you will increase the absorption of plant "non-heme iron" by 1.5-4 fold. That is a hugely substantial increase in bio-availability of iron to the body. Not all meat is created equally however, beef was shown to enhance iron absorption 80% more effectively than chicken.
3. Eggs and Utter Makes the Body Shudder
Eggs and the calcium in milk both decrease the absorption of iron. Calcium and eggs compete for binding in the body and win the battle to be absorbed first over iron. The meal I prepared above has no dairy in it for this reason.
By adding citrus and beef while avoiding dairy and eggs, you will be maximizing the amount of iron you can absorb from your meal. Boosting your iron status is great even for people who aren't deficient, if you are getting over a cold iron will help with that process as well. It is a great nutrient to focus on for many reasons!
Be Healthy My Friends