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3 Best Ways to Prevent Iron Deficiency Anemia
Did you know that Iron Deficiency Anemia affects about 20% of the world’s population? It is also the most common type of anemia caused by inadequate dietary intake or absorption of iron. But if you suffer from iron deficiency anemia due to lack of iron in your body, don’t look again at those poisonous iron supplements. Just follow these three preventative ways and you’re on your way to a better life.
1. Eat Foods rich in iron
The best food sources of iron are whole grain cereals, pulses and legumes, and fish. The best plant sources are green leafy vegetables such as dried lotus stems, cauliflower greens and turnip greens; fruits such as black currants, watermelons, raisins and dried dates. However, iron from these foods is difficult for the body to absorb. It is recommended that you eat animal products that contain heme iron. If you mix some lean meat, fish or poultry with beans or dark leafy vegetables at a meal, you can improve absorption of vegetable sources of iron up to three times. Foods rich in vitamin C also increase iron absorption.
2. Cook Using Cast Iron Cookware
Did you know that cooking in cast iron cookware can add significant amounts of iron to your food and into your body? Yes, it is true and this was proven by researchers who tested 20 foods. Acidic foods that have a higher moisture content, such as applesauce and spaghetti sauce, absorb the most iron. In fact, for 100 grams of each (about 3.5 oz.), the applesauce increased in iron content from 0.35mg to 7.3mg, and the spaghetti sauce jumped from 0.6mg to 5.7mg of iron.
Food cooked for longer periods of time absorbed more iron than food that was heated more quickly. Foods prepared in a newer iron pan absorbed more iron than those cooked in an older one. Foods that were cooked and stirred more often absorbed a greater amount of iron because they came into contact with the iron more often. Foods such as hamburger, corn tortillas, cornbread and liver with onions will not absorb much iron due to the shorter cooking times.
This list has been provided so that you can get a general idea of the difference in dietary iron content when cooking in a cast iron pan:
Foods Tested (100g/3.5oz) = Iron content when raw = Iron content after cooking in an iron pan
– Applesauce, unsweetened = 0.35mg = 7.38mg
– Spaghetti sauce = 0.61 = 5.77
– Chili with meat and beans = 0.96 = 6.27
– Medium white sauce = 0.22 = 3.30
– Scrambled egg = 1.49 = 4.76
– Spaghetti sauce with meat = 0.71 = 3.58
– Beef vegetable stew = 0.66 = 3.4
– Fried egg = 1.92 = 3.48
– Spanish rice = 0.87 = 2.25
– Rice, white = 0.67 = 1.97
– Pan roasted bacon = 0.77 = 1.92
– Poached egg = 1.87 = 2.32
– Fried chicken = 0.88 = 1.89
– Pancakes = 0.63 = 1.31
– Pan-fried green beans = 0.64 = 1.18
– Toasted hamburger bun = 1.49 = 2.29
– Fried potatoes = 0.42 = 0.8
– Fried corn tortillas = 0.86 = 1.23
– Pan-fried beef liver with onions = 3.1 = 3.87
– Baked cornbread = 0.67 = 0.86
3. Avoid All Cow’s Milk for the First 12 Months of Life
Whole cow’s milk contains as much iron per liter as breast milk, but only a very small proportion is actually absorbed into the body. However, the iron in breast milk is very well absorbed by babies. Therefore, breast milk is one of the best sources of iron for a baby providing all the iron needed (with all the other nutrients and benefits) during the first 6 months of life. Bottom line: breastfeeding is the best way to prevent iron deficiency anemia in babies. If breastfeeding is not an option, or is stopped before 9-12 months, then iron-fortified formulas, which contain added iron, should be given to baby instead of whole cow’s milk.
Things to Remember:
* Chronic blood loss, times of increased need such as pregnancy and vigorous exercise can trigger iron deficiency.
* Do not take iron supplements unless advised by your doctor.
* There are two types of iron: heme iron (found in animal foods) and non-heme iron (found in plant foods). Combining foods that are high in heme iron with non-heme iron foods increases the absorption power.
* Keep iron supplements away from children – even one to three grams can kill a child under six.
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