We often underestimate the importance of iron nutrition. Iron is a nifty little nutrient that is essential to the production of hemoglobin, the protein that gives red blood cells their color and also transports oxygen from the lungs around the body. The health benefits of an iron-rich diet for women are many and include:
- Increased and sustained energy
- Improved concentration
- Easing menstrual pain
Without a sufficient amount of iron in your diet, you could experience symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, headaches, increased menstrual discomfort and in some cases, can even lead to the development of anemia. The recommended daily allowance for women aged between 19 and 50 is 15mg of iron a day, with 30mg being suggested for pregnant women.
The good news is that you may already be a fan of iron-rich food. Here is a list of some great foods for iron nutrition.
1. Shellfish & Seafood
Shellfish and seafood such as clams, oysters, scallops, shrimp and even tuna are a surprisingly rich source of iron with enough in one 100g serving of clams to meet the RDA for both men and women. Seafood is pretty versatile and can be used in many of your favorite recipes. Popular (and delicious) dishes include clam chowder, seafood linguine and, of course, paella.
Iron-fortified wholegrains such as cereals, bread, rice and pasta contain high levels of iron and are simple to slot into your diet. An easy way to up your wholegrain intake is by substituting white bread for wholemeal or granary varieties, and by opting for wholegrain cereal, of which there are plenty.
3. Leafy Green Vegetables
This might be a little tougher if you have kids with certain eating habits, but all is not lost! Collard greens, spinach, mustard greens and kale all cook easily, and even in small doses are iron-rich, which means they can be disguised in pasta and rice dishes for the pickier eaters in the family!
4. Other Vegetables
Iron can also be found in other vegetables like broccoli, asparagus and brussel sprouts.
5. Lean Red Meats
Beef, pork and lamb are some of the bet sources of iron. Make sure you eat them in moderation to maintain a low fat intake and if need be, substitute them for poultry, which is also a good source of iron.
6. Blackstrap Molasses
One tablespoon of blackstrap molasses contains over 3mg of iron and can be used in cupcakes, cookies and as a glaze for meats, making it perfect for a variety of tastes.
7. Legumes and Pulses
Black beans, soybeans, lentils, kidney beans and other legumes and pulses are an excellent source of iron and can be used in soups, casseroles and as side dishes.
8. Dried Fruit
A great snack for adults and children alike, dried apricots, dates, prunes and raisins are a healthy and delicious source of iron.