Foods richest in iron: heme, table, tips

Foods richest in iron: heme, table, tips

Often tired, a little anemic, a little pale… Maybe you lack iron? However, by choosing the right foods and adopting the right reflexes, deficiencies can be avoided. List, table and tips.

Your ferritin level is it too low? Must favor foods rich in “heme” iron, which are better absorbed by the body. List and tips with Laura Azenard, naturopath.

What foods contain heme iron?

Our diet provides two types of iron: heme iron (better absorbed) and non-heme iron.

heme iron It is contained in animal proteins such as red meat, fish and shellfishs (clams, oysters), viscera (liver, kidney), charcuterie (blood sausage)… The Heme iron is assimilated relatively well during digestion. : is estimated to be 25% bioavailable (Bioavailability of dietary iron corresponds to the percentage of consumed dietary iron that crosses the intestinal barrier). That is to say, that red meat or fish have a good zinc content, a trace element that contributes to the good assimilation of iron.

► the non-heme iron is contained in the fruits, vegetables and legumes. These products have a lower iron content and the latter is much less absorbable than heme iron: it is estimated to be up to 10% bioavailable. Namely, that among the foods that contain non-heme iron, there are algae. The latter contain complexed iron, that is to say that this iron has the particularity of being surrounded by vegetable molecules, which allows it to be much better assimilated by the organism. He spirulina, wakame or dulse They are algae that have a good complexed iron content. But how to consume them? He spirulina it can be found in food supplements, powdered or flakes that can be sprinkled on soups, salads, steamed vegetables or compotes. But beware,Spirulina is a true “sponge” and tends to absorb anything in the air or water it comes in contact with, including contaminants. Therefore, it is better to choose it with the “Spiruliniers de France” logo, a label that respects organic commitments and a healthy growing environment.“, recommends the naturopath.

What is the list of foods rich in iron?

  • spirulina (consume it in powder or flakes sprinkled in your salads, soups or green juices)
  • black pudding (add it to your menus once a week)
  • beef and duck
  • offal: kidneys, liver
  • dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
  • mussels and oysters
  • lentils
  • White beans
  • whole grains: oats, whole barley, oat bran, whole wheat
  • dried aromatic herbs: thyme, basil, mint, marjoram, Provencal herbs, parsley, savory, oregano…
  • cumin, fenugreek, fennel, coriander, chia, sesame seeds…

The spinach ? According to Popeye, spinach is an amazing source of iron. However, with only 3mg per 100g, this vegetable is far from being the product that contains the most. However, cooked and boiled, spinach would contain more iron than raw. In addition, they are powerful antioxidants and excellent sources of vitamin C.

Table of foods richest in iron

Below is the table of the richest foods that can be easily favored to increase your ferritin level. We do not voluntarily present the total list of foods according to their iron content because the amounts to be eaten to benefit from the benefits would be really high (for example: dried thyme contains 124 mg of iron per 100 grams; dried basil 90 mg/100 go even dried mint 87.5 mg/100 g) or hard-to-eat foods (raw liver, for example, richer in iron than cooked liver).

Food Iron content (in mg per 100 g)
Sautéed/fried black pudding 23
Dark chocolate without added sugar, in tablets 22.8
cooked pig liver 17.9
Braised lamb kidney 12.4
cooked chicken liver 12
cooked chicken liver 11.6
Dark chocolate with 70% cocoa minimum, extra, tasting, bar eleven
Fruit “balance” breakfast cereal, enriched with vitamins and minerals 10.6
Wheat petals with walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds, enriched with vitamins and minerals 10.4
Cereal bar with milk, chocolate or not, enriched with vitamins and minerals 9.65
cooked octopus 9.54
Kidney, beef, cooked 9.5
Gizzard, duck, confit, canned 9.4
Bird liver pate 9.19
Dark chocolate with nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, raisins, praline), bar 8.7
Seafood, cooked, frozen 8.48
Mussels, canned, drained 8.44
blonde lentil, dry 7.4
Flageolet bean, green, dry 7.3
bresaola 7.1

Anses (table of nutritional composition of Ciqual foods)

► The iron from plants is much better absorbed if combined with foods rich in vitamin c such as kiwis, red fruits, citrus fruits, guavas, peppers, fennel, spinach, cabbage… Ideally chosen as fresh as possible, seasonal, local and organic. “The idea is combine legumes with vegetables rich in vitamin C : thus, we will not hesitate to prepare some fried lentils with peppers for example!“advises the naturopath.

► “Anything fermented will increase iron assimilation, such as sauerkraut cabbage or sourdough bread which will also increase the digestibility of food“.

► Whole grains (whole wheat, brown rice) and legumes (beans, lentils) contain phytic acid in their shell, a biomolecule that prevents the correct assimilation of nutrients. Therefore, it is recommended Soak whole grains and legumes (or sprout them) before cooking to remove phytic acid.

► You must be careful with water that is too mineralized (such as Hépar or Contrex) that provide a surplus of minerals (zinc, magnesium, calcium…). These can slow down the assimilation of iron.

► The nutritional quality of all minerals is altered above 100°C, hence the interest in turn to soft cooking (stewed, steamed, etc.) already low temperature. Please note that vitamin C is even more fragile as it deteriorates above 60°C.

Should we avoid tea and coffee when we lack iron?

actually it is necessary be careful with the tannins present in tea, red wine or coffee that can alter the assimilation of iron of vegetable origin. It is considered best to drink a tea (ideally green or sencha, since these teas are oxidizing and rich in vitamin C) or a coffee between 30 minutes and 1 hour after the meal instead of at the same time.

Avoid iron overload!

Iron is an antioxidant when the body has a normal level. On the other hand, if it is in excess, it becomes very oxidizing and can cause fatigue, a feeling of weakness and develop complications that affect the heart, liver and endocrine organs. “Be careful with heme iron since, as our body assimilates it very well, some people, who consume excessive red meats or processed meats, may experience iron overload and be at risk of developing low-grade inflammation (the intestine becomes damaged and porous)“, specifies the expert. And if the body is overloaded with iron, there is more long-term risk of developing a hemochromatosis (genetic disease related to excessive iron absorption), or cardiovascular or respiratory disease, metabolic syndrome, or type 2 diabetes. Iron overload is relatively rare and can be treated if caught early. This problem affects more certain men and women over the age of 50 who are less able to eliminate iron.

Thanks to Laura Azenard, naturopath.

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