Iron has always been a hot topic of discussion and it will always be. There is something about it that keeps people thinking or rather confused on what to eat, how to eat and what to avoid! As a result of this knowledge deficit, most over 30% of the world’s population has become deficient in this very important mineral [according to WHO].
So, let’s see what all foods people think are super rich in Iron, but sadly aren’t
We all at some point in our lives have believed that spinach is a great source of iron. But that is simply NOT TRUE.
Mr. Popeye have gotten it all wrong!!
Spinach has a compound by the name of ‘oxalates’ which binds with the little amount of iron present in it and inhibits it’s absorption in the body. Oxalic acid cannot be absorbed by the body.
Also, the confusion started because a scientist by the name of von Wolff forgot to correct a decimal error, leading to people misbelieving that spinach was a rich source of iron! He certainly forgot to mention the low bioavailability too. Sad! But nonetheless it being a green leafy vegetable is a great source of Vitamin A helping your skin glow and vision sparkly and at the same time making your immunity strong too! Much love to Vitamin A.
Iron cooking pots:
Many people think that cooking in an iron pot helps in transferring the iron from the vessel to the food one is making. It’s got to be a magical pot then!
Well, truth being, this was a ritual of an ancient era with no scientific backing. Moreover, cooking in such pots is known to cause ‘Iron Toxicity’. Excess of anything is really bad so to say! Stay away from this myth, far far away!
Suggested Read: Metal versus Clay: What is Healthier to cook in?
As a nutritionist it feels really odd when you hear people talking to each other and saying “have milk, your anemia would go away” and I’m left gaping at them and thinking what is wrong with this world!!
Milk has NO IRON. It is but an amazing source of Calcium, Protein, Vitamin A and essential fatty acids. So yes it will make you taller, stronger, and you always have some almonds walnuts and Sudoku puzzles to make you sharper! Yay!
Suggested Read: Jersey Cow or Desi Cow? Which Milk is better for your health?
Someone has rightly said, “Everything that glitters is not gold”. A red coloured food, won’t necessarily make blood or iron in the body. I have heard even doctors advising it to their anaemic patients. Still every time I hear that it makes me cringe!
For a second even if I agree with you that it has some iron, but it’s of no use. Now the science behind that is, it contains a substance called “oxalic acid”, which interferes with the iron absorption in the body and hence it doesn’t even get absorbed! Came as a surprise didn’t that? But having said that, this musn’t stop you from enjoying beetroots! It’s rich in Vitamin C and a number of other antioxidants which help you in fighting free radicles. It is also rich in zinc, phosphorus and gives a wonderful amount of fiber too!
Suggested Read: Antioxidants: let your food protect you from all illnesses!
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.
It stands true in more respects than one. It’s rich in antioxidants, rich in cholesterol lowering fiber, has a good amount of Vitamin E and Vitamin C too. But, what it is not rich in, is Iron. We studied the process of rusting in class 5th or 6th which stated when an iron metal came in contact with air, it turned brown. They were talking about metal dearies, and not about the fruit! And it turning brown is related to something known as “enzymatic browning”.
Bananas are a great pre and a post workout meal and supply you with the requisite amount of energy that is required by the body during workouts.
They help you through the muscle cramps, blood pressure, provide you good amount of potassium, magnesium, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C as well. Though bananas are not rich in iron, due to the presence of Vitamin C only help in the absorption of iron.
So much with the myths, now let’s just have a quick look at the foods that are super rich in iron:
- Lotus stem: Also known as “kamal kakdi”, its powdered form is highly rich in iron and has a high bio availability too. It almost has 60.6mg of iron per 100 gm of powder! 
- Dates: Also called “khajur” are easily available in the Arab regions and has greatly made its presence felt worldwide. It consists of a plethora of minerals like selenium, magnesium, potassium, along with iron which is highly bio available.
- Raisins: This small and sweet dry fruit comes packed with the nourishing iron required in our daily life. This would also cut your craving for sweet unhealthy foods,. What more could one ask for!
- Figs: These small goblets called as “anjeer” form a part of numerous sweet dishes. One dry fig each day would take care of all symptoms of anemia.
- Dried Apricots: It is known to contain almost 15% of the daily iron requirement of the body. Its other benefits include it being good for the eyes, the heart and the digestive system as well.
There are other sources that do provide good enough amount of iron, but these are the top 5 natural sources that would definitely get you results.
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Having a master’s degree in the field of Clinical Nutrition, along with a background of intensive research on the subject, she guides people with different dietary requirements. From sports to people with varied lifestyles, she has catered to all during her stint with Fortis Memorial Research Institute. Working with corporates has been on top of her agenda to bring about a positive change in their lifestyles. So, while the corporates take care of the business needs, she takes care of the nutritional needs and keeps them going in the humdrum.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for a consult.