Discover various iron sources to improve your health. Know the food options of plant and animal origin rich in this essential mineral.

Discover various iron sources to improve your health. Know the food options of plant and animal origin rich in this essential mineral.

Iron is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in many bodily functions. It is an important component of hemoglobin, a protein that is found in red blood cells and transports the oxygen of the lungs to the rest of the body. In addition, iron intervenes in the production of energy, the immune function and the synthesis of DNA. Guarantee an adequate iron intake is vital to maintain general health and prevent ferropenic anemia.

There are two forms of iron in the diet: the iron and no n-hem iron. HEMO iron is found in food of animal origin, while iron is not hemo is found both in food and animal foods. The body usually absorbs the iron hemo than the iron does not hem. However, consuming foods rich in vitamin C together with Iron No Hemo can improve its absorption.

Sources of Heme Iron:

To increase the hemo Iron intake, consider the possibility of including the following foods in your diet:

  • Magras red meat
  • Corral birds (such as chicken and turkey)
  • Seafood (such as fish, oysters and clams)
  • Organ meats (such as liver and kidney)

Including hemo iron sources in their meals can be an effective way to increase their iron levels, especially for people with conditions that hinder their absorption, such as celiacism or gastrointestinal disorders.

Sources of Non-Heme Iron:

If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet or prefer iron sources of plant origin, incorporating the following foods to your meals can help you cover your daily iron needs:

  • Legumes (such as lentils, chickpeas and beans)
  • Tofu
  • Spinach and other green leafy vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds (such as almonds and pumpkin pipes)
  • Enriched cereals for breakfast

Remember to combine no n-hemo iron sources with foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus, strawberries or peppers, to optimize iron absorption.

The Significance of Iron in the Body

Enough is never enough for the importance of iron in the body, since it affects numerous physiological functions:

  1. It facilitates oxygen transport: iron binds to oxygen in the lungs and transports it to cells throughout the body. An iron deficiency can affect this process, which decreases oxygen transport capacity and can cause fatigue, weakness and difficulty breathing.
  2. Support cognitive function: Adequate levels of iron are essential for proper brain function, including cognitive development in children and cognitive performance in adults. Iron deficiency has been associated with impaired memory, attention and learning ability.
  3. Supports a healthy immune system: Iron plays a crucial role in the function of immune cells, such as lymphocytes and macrophages, which are vital in defending the body against infections and diseases. Insufficient iron levels can weaken the immune system, making people more susceptible to illnesses and infections.

“Iron is key to maintaining oxygen transport, cognitive function and immune system health.”

To ensure optimal health, it is essential to include foods rich in iron in your diet and pay attention to the factors that affect its absorption, such as the intake of vitamin C and the consumption of certain types of foods that can hinder its absorption, such astea and coffee.

Food sources of iron Iron content (per 100 g)
Spinach 2. 7mg
Red meat 2. 8mg
Lentils 3. 3mg
Pumpkin seeds 8. 8mg

Note: Iron content may vary depending on the specific product and cooking methods.

Animal Sources of Iron

Animal sources of iron are animal foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. These sources provide what is known as heme iron, which is more easily absorbed by the body than non-heme iron from plant foods. The absorption of heme iron from animal sources is usually around 15-35%, while that of non-heme iron can vary between 2-20%.

  • Meat: Beef, pork and lamb are rich sources of heme iron. For example, a 3-ounce serving of cooked beef can provide approximately 2-3 milligrams of iron.
  • Poultry: Chicken, turkey, and duck also contain significant amounts of heme iron. A 3-ounce serving of cooked chicken can provide approximately 1 milligram of iron.
  • Fish and shellfish: Certain types of fish and shellfish, such as sardines, oysters, and clams, are excellent sources of heme iron. A 3-ounce serving of canned sardines can provide about 2 milligrams of iron.

Important note: It should be noted that excessive consumption of red and processed meats has been associated with an increased risk of certain health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. Therefore, it is recommended to consume animal sources of iron in moderation and opt for lean cuts of meat.

In addition to Hemo Iron, animal sources also contain small amounts of no n-hem iron, which can contribute to total iron intake. However, it is important to include a variety of no n-hem o-iro n-rich plant foods, such as legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, to guarantee adequate intake of this essential mineral.

In summary, animal sources of iron, in particular the hem iron found in meat, birds, fish and eggs, provide high bioavailability iron that the organism absorbs easily. However, it is advisable to consume these sources in moderation and incorporate a wide range of plant foods to obtain a balanced hem and no n-hem iron intake.

Plant-based sources of iron

There are several iro n-rich plant foods that can be incorporated into a balanced diet. Among them are

  • Spinach: spinach are a green leafy vegetable that is not only rich in iron, but also contains other important nutrients such as vitamins A and C. Adding spinach to salads, smoothies or sauteed can be an excellent way to increase intakeof iron.
  • Legumes: Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and beans are not only rich in iron, but also provide a good amount of proteins and fiber. Including legumes in meals such as soups, stews or salads can help increase iron levels.
  • Wife and seeds: nuts and seeds such as almonds, anacardos, pumpkin pipes and sesame seeds are not only a good iron source, but also provide healthy fats. They can be taken as a snack or added to dishes such as granola, yogurt or salads.

It is important to keep in mind that iron of plant origin is iron no hemo, that it is not absorbed as effectively as the hem iron of food of animal origin. However, the combination of iron sources of plant origin with foods rich in vitamin C can improve iron absorption.

In addition, it is essential that people who follow a diet based on plants are aware of their iron intake and make sure they consume a variety of iro n-rich foods to meet their nutritional needs. Consulting with a healthcare or a dietitian entitled can provide personalized guidance on the incorporation of iron iron sources in a wel l-balanced diet.

Iron-rich Seafood Options

1. Seafood:

  • Mussels
  • Clams
  • Oysters
  • Octopus

Seafood is a fantastic iron source, and some varieties even exceed the iron content of red meat. The mussels, the clams, the oysters and the octopus are especially rich in iron, which makes them excellent options for those who wish to increase their iron levels. These seafood options are not only dense in nutrients, but also provide a series of other essential vitamins and minerals.

2. Fish:

  1. Tuna
  2. Salmon
  3. Sardines

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and in various vitamins and minerals, fish is not only delicious, but also a great iron source. Tuna, salmon and sardines are among seafood options that offer significant iron amounts. These fish varieties can easily join your meals, either grilled, baked or added to salads.

3. Crustaceans:

  • Prawns
  • Lobster
  • Cigalas

Crustaceans, such as prawns, lobster and crayfish, are another excellent option to obtain iron. These seafood are not only rich in iron, but also provide essential nutrients such as zinc and vitamin B12. Whether in pasta dishes, sauteed or as part of a seafood boiled, crustaceans can add a tasty touch and full of iron to their meals.

Iron-fortified foods: A reliable source

Foods enriched with iron are increasingly popular as a reliable source of this important mineral. These are food to which iron is added artificially during processing to increase its iron content. They are usually found in the form of cereals, bread, pasta and other cereal products. Foods enriched with iron constitute an effective strategy to combat the lack of iron, especially in people who can have limited access to natural sources of iron, such as meat and seafood.

Foods enriched with iron offer several advantages:

  1. Comfort: Iron enriched foods are easy to find in most supermarkets and can easily be incorporated into daily meals.
  2. Controlled dose: The amount of iron added to enriched foods is carefully regulated, which guarantees a constant and predictable intake of the mineral.
  3. Greater bioavailability: the iron of enriched foods is usually in a way that the organism absorbs more easily than the iron does not be found in plant sources.

An effective way to promote the consumption of iron enriched food is through public health initiatives that raise awareness about its benefits. Including them in school lunch programs, community nutrition programs and educational campaigns can help ensure that people, especially those who run a high risk of ferropenia, have access to a reliable iron source.

Iron enriched foods Iron content by ration
Cereals 5-18 mg
Bread 1-5 mg
Pasta 2-3 mg

It is important to keep in mind that, although iron enriched foods can be a reliable source of iron, they should not replace a varied and balanced diet. It is still beneficial to include natural sources of iron, such as lean meats, poultry, fish, legumes and dark green leafy vegetables, to ensure optimal iron intake and general nutrient diversity.

Cooking Methods That Preserve Iron Content

1. Steamed: steamed cooking is a cooking method that helps conserve the iron content of food. When food is cooked in steamed, they retain more of their natural juices and nutrients compared to other cooking techniques. Steamed vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and curly collars helps preserve its iron content, guaranteeing maximum nutritional benefit.

2. Avoid excessive cooking: excessive cooking can cause loss of food content of food. Prolonged cooking times and high temperatures can cause iron to filter into cooking liquid or completely destroyed. It is recommended to cook food until they are tender, avoiding excessively long cooking times that can degrade iron content.

Note: It is important to pay attention to cooking times and temperatures to preserve the iron content of food. Excessive cooking can reduce iron availability, so try to make cooking times shorter to retain more iron in your meals.

3. Combining iro n-rich foods with vitamin C: It has been discovered that vitamin C improves the absorption of iron in the body. Therefore, incorporating foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus, tomatoes and peppers, meals can help improve iron absorption. By combining iro n-rich foods with vitamin C, iron content is better preserved and becomes more bioavailable to the body.

Iron absorption inhibitors to be aware of

1. Fitatos: Fitatos are natural compounds found in many foods of plant origin, such as whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. These compounds have a great affinity for iron, forming insoluble complexes in the digestive system that hinder their absorption. To mitigate the effects of phytatos, soaking, fermenting or germinating plant foods can help reduce their phytate content and improve iron absorption.

  • Soaking cereals and legumes all night in water and adding a small amount of acidic medium, such as lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, can help decompose phytates and improve iron absorption.
  • Fermentation of foods such as mother’s bread or Tempeh can also reduce phytate levels, making iron more biodispononable.
  • Sprouting seeds and legumes before consuming them can activate enzymes that break down phytates, improving iron absorption.

2. 2. Calcium: Calcium, found primarily in dairy products and fortified foods, can inhibit iron absorption when consumed together. The interaction between calcium and iron occurs in the intestinal lumen, where calcium binds to dietary iron, forming insoluble complexes. To optimize iron absorption, it is advisable to consume foods rich in calcium separately from foods rich in iron and leave a period of at least two hours between their intake.

3. Tannins: Tannins are natural plant compounds present in beverages such as tea, coffee and red wine, as well as in certain fruits such as grapes and pomegranates. These compounds can inhibit iron absorption by forming insoluble complexes with iron in the digestive tract. To minimize the impact of tannins on iron absorption, it is advisable to consume these drinks in moderation and separate them from foods rich in iron.

Tips for Maximizing Iron Absorption

1. Pair Iron-Rich Foods with Vitamin C:

Vitamin C contributes to the absorption of non-heme iron, which is the form of iron found in plant-based foods. Including foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes and peppers, in meals that contain foods rich in iron can significantly boost its absorption. For example, squeeze lemon juice on a spinach salad or drink a glass of orange juice with iron-fortified cereals to improve iron absorption.

2. Avoid Consuming Iron Blockers:

Certain substances can hinder the absorption of iron by binding to it and preventing its absorption in the intestines. Some examples of iron blockers are tannins, found in tea and red wine, and phytates, found in whole grains and legumes. However, it is important to note that these foods are still valuable sources of other nutrients, so it is recommended to include them in a balanced diet. To mitigate the effect of iron blockers, consume iron-rich foods and iron supplements separately from foods containing these inhibitors and accompany them with foods rich in vitamin C to counteract their effects.

Note: To optimize iron absorption, aim to consume iron-rich foods and supplements at least two hours before or after consuming foods rich in tannins and phytates.

3. Cooking in Cast Iron:

Cooking certain foods in cast iron utensils can provide a natural source of iron and improve its absorption. The iron of the kitchen utensils is filtered in food during cooking, especially when acid or liquid foods are cooked. This method can be especially beneficial for people who prefer a predominantly plant diet, since it helps increase iron levels without depending solely on animal sources.

4. Combine Iron-Rich Foods with Meat:

The body more easily absorbs iron iron, which is found in food of animal origin, that iron does not. Combining no n-hemo iron sources, such as spinach or beans, with sources of Hemo iron, such as lean meats, birds or seafood, can improve iron absorption. This combination creates a synergistic effect that favors a better assimilation of iron in the body.

  1. Eat a spinach salad with grilled chicken for a food rich in nutrients.
  2. Try a sauteed with Tofu and Brécol, accompanied by a little lean meat.
  3. It combines lentils with a small ration of lean veal meat or turkey in a blunt stew.
Iro n-rich plant foods Iron content (mg)
Spinach (1 cup, cooked) 6.4
Lentils (1 cup, cooked) 6.6
Curly collar (1 cup, cooked) 1.2
Chickpeas (1 cup, cooked) 4.7

Author of the article
Dr.Greenblatt M.
Dr.Greenblatt M.
Medical oncologist at the Robert Larner College of Medicine, MD, at the University of Vermont

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