Healthy iron nutrition remains one of the most important mineral based dietary concerns worldwide. Iron deficiency occurs more often than any other vitamin or mineral related issue. You should always choose foods rich in iron, cook frozen vegetables, and practice serving techniques that raise the level of iron in some food items.
Tip #1 - Raw Food Choices
Several natural foods provide you with great sources of vitamins and other minerals, but not iron. Certain foods need proper preparation in order to better serve you with feasible iron sources. The following group of foods contains higher levels of iron in the raw and unprepared state.
- Watermelon - Approx. 3 mg per 4 ounces
- Canned beans (kidney, chickpeas) - Approx. 1.5 mg per ½ cup
- Almonds - Approx 4.5 mg per 100 grams
- Raisins - Approx 5 mg per cup
- Prunes - Approx 4 mg per cup
- Dried fruits (apricots, peaches) - Over 7 mg per cup
- Oysters (raw) - Approx 6 mg per 4 ounces
- Tofu - Approx 7.5 mg per cup
Combinations of these servings provide individuals with their recommended daily intake of iron. Women should consume over twice the level of iron required by men ages 19 through 50; women in these age groups have a recommended consumption level of at least 18 mg of iron daily, while men should consume 8 to 10 mg daily.
Tip #2 - Cooked Food Choices
Some food sources that lack iron provide substantial amounts when prepared correctly. For example, cooking some meats too much decreases their iron content. Serving mainly red meats less well done will contain much more iron than when cooked thoroughly, or until dry. You can choose from the following list of cooked items to meet daily iron nutrition recommendations; some of the examples will show how cooking preparations change the iron content in certain food items.
- Lentils - Approx 2 mg per 1/3 cup
- Oysters (cooked) - Approx 9 mg per 4 ounces
- Beef - Approx 6 mg per ½ ounce
- Liver (beef, chicken) - Approx 9 mg per 1/3 of an ounce (about 10 grams)
Tip #3 - Fresh AND Frozen
The iron content within frozen foods will always differ depending on preparation techniques. For example, boiling a bag of green beans will increase the amount of iron per serving; some choose to defrost the vegetables and serve them at or below room temperature. Fresh vegetables act in the same manner; cooking green vegetables often increases their iron nutrition value. Since you probably do not consume frozen bags of vegetables, worrying about the lack of iron content in them remains unnecessary.
Generally, you should always cook fresh or frozen leafy greens plus all frozen products. Never worry or feel guilty when purchasing a bag of broccoli, corn or green beans; these items contain essentially the same amount of nutrients as fresh sources. Enjoy eating iron rich fruits and vegetables from the garden when they are in season. Pick frozen fruits and vegetables to help with iron nutrition if your area does not accommodate the growth of certain food items.