How to increase your iron levels on a plant-based diet
By Rebecca Gawthorne (aka @nourish_naturally)
How to increase your iron levels on a plant based diet
By Rebecca Gawthorne from @nourish_naturally
Rebecca Gawthorne (aka “Nourish Naturally”) is an Accredited Practising Dietitian, Accredited Nutritionist & a member of the Dietitians Association of Australia.
“I love food & despite four years of studying food & nutrition at University, publishing research on health, & helping thousands of clients with their eating, it never ceases to amaze me how important healthy, nourishing food is to our bodies.
Food physically becomes you! It makes up every cell in your body – your muscles, hair, skin, heart. We need to nourish our bodies with healthy, real, wholesome foods to ensure our bodies function healthily, to feel energetic and live the life we were created to.”
Rebecca doesn’t believe in fad diets. She doesn’t believe in restriction, quick fixes or expensive diet pills.
Instead, Rebecca believes in healthy eating. In nourishing naturally and in fresh, real, wholesome foods that make you feel, look and live fantastic.
Iron is an essential mineral needed by your body to form new red blood cells, transport oxygen to your muscles & keep your immune system strong.
Low iron levels can leave you feeling tired & lethargic, especially when it comes to work & exercise. If you follow a plant based diet, you are at a higher risk of iron-deficiency.
However, this doesn’t need to be the case.
Here are three simple areas you can work on to help ensure your iron levels are at a healthy level when following a plant based diet.
Iron is not made by your body, so it needs to be supplied by the food you eat.
Iron that comes from plant foods is called non-haem iron.
Sources of non-haem iron include:
Aim to include at least one serve of these foods at every meal and snack you have. For example, you could have a small tin of baked beans or a handful of nuts & dried fruit as a snack.
Vitamin C can boost non-haem iron absorption by up to 50 percent! Vitamin C rich foods include citrus fruits, mangoes, berries, kiwi fruits, pineapples, papayas, capsicum & tomatoes. Eat these foods rich in vitamin C with your sources of plant iron for maximum absorption. For example, if you are having a salad made with baby spinach & leafy greens, add some slices of fresh orange or mango for flavour or make a dressing with a squeeze of lemon juice and olive oil. Or if you are having a stir fry made with sweet potato, pumpkin, broccoli and asparagus, add in some tomatoes & capsicum.
There are certain compounds that inhibit iron absorption by binding to the iron molecule. Aim to avoid having these close to, or with your iron-rich meals & snacks: