Iron is an important nutrient for energy, sleep, and mood.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) for women is 18mg/day and 8mg/day for men
These foods contain the below amount of iron per 100gm:
- Beef liver: 6.5mg
- Oyester 7.8mg
- Sardines: 2.9mg
- Lentils: 3.3mg
- Kidney beans 2.6mg
- Pumpkin seeds: 14.6mg
- Cashews 6.7mg
- Lean beef:2.6mg
- Lean pork: 2.9mg
- Chicken breast: 1.4mg
- Turkey breast: 1.4mg
- Spinach: 2.7mg
- Swiss chard: 2.2mg
- Kale: 1.5mg
Haem iron vs non-haem iron
Heme iron is found in animal-derived food sources such as red meat, poultry, and fish.
Heme iron is more easily absorbed by the body compared to non-heme iron.
Additionally, cooking techniques like soaking, fermenting, or sprouting plant-based foods can help reduce the levels of phytates and enhance non-heme iron absorption.
The absorption of heme iron is not strongly influenced by other dietary factors, and it is absorbed at a relatively constant rate.
Non-heme iron is found in both plant-based and animal-based food sources.
Its absorption is affected by various dietary factors, such as the presence of other nutrients (such as vitamin C) or substances that enhance or inhibit iron absorption.
Enhancers of non-heme iron absorption include vitamin C, while inhibitors include phytates (found in whole grains and legumes) and polyphenols (found in tea and coffee).
Non-heme iron absorption is generally lower and more variable than heme iron absorption.
Tips for optimal iron absorption
- Avoid caffeine 1 hour either side of consuming iron-rich foods
- Add vitamin C with iron-rich foods to increase absorption. Eg: use a squeeze of lemon over beef or lentils.
- To enhance the absorption of non-heme iron, it is recommended to consume it with foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, and capsicums.
- Additionally, cooking techniques like soaking, fermenting, or sprouting plant-based foods can help reduce the levels of phytates and enhance non-heme iron absorption.