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Did you know that these days most people are low in iron? In this episode, Jen talks about the signs of low iron, what can impact your absorption of it and how you can make sure you get enough iron-rich foods in your diet, including great plant-based options for vegetarians.

Did you enjoy the podcast today? Please let me know by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. Every month I draw one lucky reviewer to have a free one-hour consultation with me. Also, remember to subscribe wherever you’re tuning in from so that you always catch the next episode.

SHOWNOTES

Did you know that these days most people are low in iron? Today we’re talking about how to keep your iron levels happy. If you’re vegan or a vegetarian, this episode is particularly important.

What are the signs of iron deficiency or anaemia?

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Chest pain, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath
  • Headache, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
  • Brittle nails

How much iron do you need?

  • 8.7mg a day for men over 18
  • 14.8mg a day for women aged 19 -50
  • 8.7mg a day for women over 50

How you absorb iron and what gets in the way 

You absorb 10-15% of the iron from foods. Vitamin C will increase the absorption of non-heme iron by as much as 85%.

Tannins, oxalates, polyphenols, and phytates found in tea and coffee can reduce the absorption of non-heme iron by up to 65%. Black tea reduces absorption more than green tea and coffee. Check out Episode #11 for more on this. What is heme iron?

Heme iron vs non-heme iron

  • Non-heme iron comes from plant foods; heme iron comes from animal foods
  • The body can better regulate the absorption of non-heme iron, helping to protect against toxic effects

How to get more iron in your diet (vegetarian and vegan friendly) 

Spinach

Spinach provides 15% of the DV for iron per serving, along with several vitamins and minerals. It also contains important antioxidants.

Broccoli 

One serving of broccoli provides ONLY 6% of the DV for iron and is very high in vitamins C, K, and folate. 

More Green Leafy Vegetables 

  • 22% DV per cup of cooked Swiss chard / Silverbeet
  • 15% DV per cup of cooked beet greens
  • 14% DV per cup of cooked Scotch (curly) kale

Lentils

One cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils provides 37% of the DV for iron. 

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds provide 2.5mg per cup.

More Seeds 

  • 23% DV per oz of sesame seeds
  • 13% DV per oz of hemp seeds
  • 12% DV per oz of chia seeds
  • 9% DV per oz of dry-roasted cashews
  • 9% DV per oz of flax seeds
  • 8% DV per oz of sunflower seeds
  • 6% DV per oz of almonds

Tofu non-GMO

Tofu provides 19% of the DV for iron per serving and is rich in protein and minerals. 

  • 49% DV per cup of soybeans
  • 37% DV per cup of lentils
  • 29% DV per cup of kidney beans
  • 26% DV per cup of garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • 25% DV per cup of lima beans
  • 24% DV per cup of navy beans
  • 20% DV per cup of black beans
  • 20% DV per cup of pinto beans
  • 20% DV per cup of black-eyed peas

Dried Apricots

Dried apricots are 7.5mg per cup. They need to be the shrivelled-up ones though and not the plump dried apricots. Plump dried fruit is full of sulphur.

More Dried Fruit 

  • 36% DV per cup of dried peaches
  • 26% DV per cup of dried prunes
  • 17% DV per cup of dried figs
  • 17% DV per cup of dried raisins
  • 7% DV per cup of dried apples

Quinoa 

Quinoa provides 16% of the DV for iron per serving. 2.8MG per cup

Dark Chocolate

A small serving of dark chocolate (30 grams) contains 19% of the DV for iron. There is 66% DV in 1 cup of cocoa powder.

Spirulina 

100 grams of spirulina equates to 158% DV (28.5mg).

Parsley

100 grams of parsley equates to 687% DV (123.6mg)! Parsley also has Vitamin C, so it’s my favourite source of iron.

Here are some ways to add parsley to your diet:

  • Use as a garnish on pasta or soups
  • Chop and add to salads (think tabouleh)
  • Use in egg bakes or frittatas
  • Make a pesto with pine nuts, olive oil, parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley
  • Add to smoothies for a nutrient and flavour boost
  • Use on homemade pizza
  • Add to homemade bread
  • Use in homemade juices (that’s my quick, easy favourite)
  • Add flavour to soups and stews
  • Incorporate into marinades and dressings

How to store parsley

To best store fresh parsley, you first need to remove the bottom of the stem. Don’t rinse. I pick it fresh each day and add it to everything. You can also do parsley juice and tabouleh.

INGREDIENTS

  • 55g (1/3 cup) fine burghul I also use Quinoa
  • 2 bunches flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 small bunch mint, leaves picked
  • 1 large vine-ripened tomato, cut into 1cm pieces 
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped 
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) olive oil

METHOD 

  • Step 1 – Place burghul or quinoa in a bowl, add enough cold water to cover, then set aside for 1 hour or until softened. Drain in a sieve over a bowl, pressing down with the back of a spoon to drain excess moisture. Discard liquid.
  • Step 2 – Trim 5cm from parsley stalks and discard. Thinly slice parsley and mint, and place in a large bowl with burghul and tomato. Place onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Using your fingers, rub to combine. Add to parsley mixture and toss to combine, then stir in lemon juice and oil. Makes 4 cups.

Healthy Life Hacks

So, the healthy life hacks I want to leave you with today are: 

  1. Bring more iron-rich foods into your daily eating plan and also make sure some of those foods are also rich in Vitamin C for easy uptake of the iron. 

Did you enjoy the podcast today? Please let me know by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. Every month I draw one lucky reviewer to have a free one-hour consultation with me. Also, remember to subscribe wherever you’re tuning in from so that you always catch the next episode.

Are you looking for more great resources? Get a free copy of my Feed Your Body ebook here and be sure to explore my blog while you are there.

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