In order to feel full of power and have enough energy for the day, we need to take in enough iron…of course in addition to a number of other nutrients. Everyone knows that meat is a rich source of iron, but those with a vegan diet can also meet their daily needs. Today we would like to cover the best ways to ensure that you are getting enough iron.
Iron intake – the source and quantity are important!
If you frequently feel worn out, quickly become tired or you have a noticeably pale complexion, one could conclude that your iron levels may be too low. This assumption can quickly be proven with a blood test. If it's shown that you do have a deficiency, it is naturally a problem that needs to be remedied. Moreover it's important to keep in mind that excessive iron in the blood is just as unhealthy as not enough. This is especially the case if you eat a lot of meat as this source of iron can lead to too much being stored in your body, and that can negatively impact your health.
The iron contained in meat is called "haemprotein" and it can increase your risk for developing heart conditions as well as diabetes and cancer. This is especially problematic in relation to the condition noted above: excess iron is stored by the body, which in turn leads to the release of more harmful free radicals into the body. In addition, the body cannot rid itself of the excess iron on its own, meaning that the situation is not so easy to remedy. Even though it's been shown in research that our bodies ability to make use of iron that is not coming from haemprotein is less efficient, specifically iron from plant sources, it is nonetheless recommended to get your iron from plants rather than from animal sources.
Easy enough – integrating plant-based iron sources
If you are in the know when it comes to the importance of meeting your iron needs with plant-based sources, then you are likely already eating in a way that is naturally good for you: whole grains, nuts, seeds (especially sesame seeds), beans and dried fruits are the most reliable sources of iron. Other good foods to help you take in enough iron include sunflower seeds and amaranth as well as oats – they are all rich in iron.
If you would prefer to concentrate on vegetables, the most efficient sources of iron are the green leafy vegetables along with wild herbs. Wild herbs? In particular, we're talking about plants like stinging nettle, dandelion, chickweed and related plants – all of them provide a good amount of iron. Moreover, it's easy enough to integrate any of them into your everyday meals. The next time you're preparing a salad, spice it up with some fresh wild herbs like those mentioned. If you take the time to collect these yourself, you'll also be incorporating some healthy movement into your day.
TIP - Load up on iron in the morning for more energy
You can cook oatmeal for breakfast using either water or some kind of vegan milk alternative, and add some finely chopped pieces of date as well as flaxseeds, cinnamon, cardamom, and turmeric. Once you add all the extras to your morning porridge, be sure to allow it to cook for one or two more minutes over low heat. Just before eating, consider decorating your first meal of the day with some nuts along with some berries or small pieces of apple. If you follow this recipe and add it to your everyday morning routine, you'll be taking a big step toward topping up your iron reserves first thing in the morning. That's a powerful way to start your day!
Dr. Michael Greger and Gene Stone, How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease, Flatiron Books, 2015
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