Anemia is known to affect around 33% of the world’s population. Anemia is a condition when either the quality or the number of red blood cells in the body decreases to a point that the body is deprived of oxygen-rich blood. This leads to various symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, headaches and sometimes arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). A person is called anemic if their haemoglobin levels fall below 14 to 18 grams per deciliter of blood (g/dL) in men and 12 to 16 g/dL of blood in women. Depending on what your results indicate, your doctor may ask you to take iron supplements as well as make changes in your diet. Here are some iron-rich foods that can increase the levels of haemoglobin in your body:
1. Whole grains
The grains that we get from our local marts are mostly processed and lack the bran (outer layer). People with anemia should include whole grains in their diet. Whole grains are the unprocessed grains that consist of all three parts of the grain: bran, germ, and the endosperm. The outer hard shell of the grain is called bran which provides fibre, vitamin Bs, iron, potassium, magnesium and antioxidants to the body. They help in increasing the haemoglobin levels of the blood. Foods like oatmeal, whole wheat bread and brown rice are rich in iron.
2. Green vegetables
It is a well-known fact that green vegetables are a rich source of non-heme iron and can be consumed on a daily basis to increase haemoglobin levels. Vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli and wild cabbage have the ability to increase your haemoglobin levels. However, a person consuming these vegetables may have to consume vitamin C along with it as some green leafy vegetables contain oxalates which make it difficult for the non-heme iron to get absorbed. Vitamin C helps in better absorption of iron in the stomach.
Beans have a high quantity of folate in them which helps in the production of more red blood cells in the blood, thus increasing the haemoglobin of the body. Common beans, that can be consumed daily, are chickpeas, kidney beans, soybeans, black-eyed peas, black beans and pinto beans.
4. Nuts and seeds
Not many people know that there are some nuts and seeds that have high amounts of iron in them. This iron helps in increasing the haemoglobin levels in the body, however, they should be consumed in moderation. Some of these iron-rich nuts and seeds are sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews and flax seeds.
Tofu is one of the best iron-rich products, especially for vegans as it is a soy-based product, rich in protein but low in fat. However, tofu needs to be taken along with vitamin C for better iron absorption.
6. Peanut butter
You will be amazed to know that the delicious (unsweetened) peanut butter you love so much is actually rich in iron. Peanut butter not only provides iron to the body but also improves its absorption, thus helping increase the haemoglobin levels in the body.
7. Non-vegetarian foods
Most of us know that liver is rich in iron and folate. Organ meats such as chicken liver, turkey legs and goat bone broth help in increasing the haemoglobin levels of an anemic person.
Seafood such as tuna, salmon, oysters, clams and shrimps are not only rich in iron but also calcium which makes the absorption of iron even better.
For more information, read our article on Anemia.
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