Iron is an essential element for life. It is necessary for the transport of oxygen to the tissues through the blood, and it is part of the hemoglobin.
A deficit of it in the diet can trigger an anaemic process, which causes chronic fatigue and tiredness, among other symptoms. Nevertheless, it is not convenient to abuse it. It is a mineral with oxidizing activity, and for this reason it must be consumed in its right measure.
Meats are rich in iron
Foods from the animal kingdom usually contain iron in their composition. This is the so-called heme iron, which is easily absorbed by the human intestine.
Almost all meat contains it, but the viscera are especially rich in this mineral. These foods have a high nutritional density, and their consumption is recommended in case of lack of minerals.
However, other types of meat, such as red or white, also have iron in their composition. For this reason, anaemia due to a lack of iron in non-restrictive diets is not usually a frequent problem. The same is not true for vegans, according to research published in the journal PLoS One, which links low intake of red meat to the severity of anaemia.
Let’s not forget about legumes in the diet
Within the vegetable kingdom, legumes are characterized by their mineral content. Lentils have been, in popular knowledge, the best representatives of iron-rich foods among vegetables. However, it is an iron with a low bioavailability, much lower than that from animals.
Bioavailability refers to the ability of the substance to be used by humans in their metabolism. In this case, the problem with vegetable iron is that it is difficult to absorb from the human gut.
However, it is possible to enhance its absorption. To do this, it is sufficient to combine the intake of legumes with that of other products or foods rich in vitamin C, as stated in an article published in the journal Food & Function. Strawberries and red peppers are rich in the latter nutrient, as are citrus fruits.
Other vegetables with iron
In addition to legumes, it is possible to find vegetables that contain large amounts of iron and vitamin C at the same time. This is the case with spinach, which is valued in nutrition for its quality.
On the other hand, many seeds are rich in minerals. This kind of ingredients can be introduced both in salads and in smoothies. At the same time, they are usually rich in essential fatty acids, such as omega 3.
However, all that glitters is not gold. We are talking about products with a high energy density, so their consumption must be controlled. Otherwise, the energy balance could be upset and negative weight gain could occur. It is not recommended to include more than 2 tablespoons of these seeds in each preparation.