If you are suffering from anaemia, be proactive and take the right steps to address it now by following the advice outlined below. And your primary weapon of attack is your diet!

In this article you can find out about foods rich in iron and how you can include them in your diet.

What kind of foods are high in iron?

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The iron in food comes from two sources: animals and plants. Iron from animal sources is known as heme iron and is found in various meats and fishes. Iron from plants is known as non-heme iron, and is found in certain vegetables and in iron-fortified foods such as breakfast cereals. Heme iron is absorbed better (20-25%) than non-heme iron (3-8%) by the body.

The following foods are good sources of heme iron (from animal sources):

• beef
• turkey
• chicken
• fish
• lamb
• eggs
• beef liver
• chicken liver
• lamp liver
• oysters
• clams
• tuna
• shrimp

The following foods are good sources of non-heme iron (from plants):

• beans (kidney, lima, Navy)
• lentils
• leafy green vegetables
• spinach
• beetroot
• brown rice
• instant oatmeal
• whole wheat bread
• raisin bran (enriched)
• tofu
• molasses
• peanut butter

what to eat if you are anaemic_1◘ You can also opt for fruits high in iron, such as dried apricots, prunes, raisins and figs.

NOTE: You could consume those as a snack or add them to your salad.

◘ Try to pick nuts high in iron, such as peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, pine, sunflower seeds and sesame.

NOTE: You could consume those as a snack or add them to your salad.

◘ While cooking use herbs such as thyme, oregano, mint, parsley, dill, rosemary, black pepper.

NOTE: Adding herbs will make your meals tastier and will also increase iron absorption.

Combinations

a) Try to combine non-heme iron foods with vitamin C (for example a glass of orange juice), as it helps increase the absorption of iron. For example, 1 teaspoon tahini or peanut butter with a slice of bread and 1 glass of orange juice.

Vitamin C is also found in: strawberries, tangerines, grapefruit, kiwi, melons, lemons, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, dark-green leafy vegetables (i.e watercress and curly kale).

b) Avoid consuming iron-rich foods with tea, coffee, caffeinated beverages, milk, red wine*, wholegrain cereals**, as these foods can make it harder for your body to absorb iron.

Red wine is rich in tannins, which can interfere with iron absorption

**Although wholegrains are a good source of iron themselves, they contain phytic acid, which can stop your body absorbing iron from other foods which really is a bit of a nutritional catch-22!

Your diet should include foods from all the major food groups to ensure it is healthy and balanced. Most people who make healthy, balanced food choices get the iron and vitamins their bodies need from the foods they eat.

It is a fact and a common occurrence that food fads and ‘quick result’ dieting can and does often lead to anaemia.

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