Advertising
Advertising

15 Foods Super Rich In Iron

15 Foods Super Rich In Iron

Have you ever wondered why Popeye guzzled spinach each time he had to face Bluto? That is because he needed an extra boost to help him defeat his nemesis. Spinach contains iron, an important mineral that aids in important bodily functions such as transporting oxygen in the blood and contains a number of protein that including haemoglobin, myoglobin, cytochromes, and enzymes involved in redox reaction. Transporting of oxygen in the blood is important because this process provides energy for our daily life.

Back to Popeye, the message he is giving through eating spinach is not only directed to children, but also to the adults. About one-third of the world’s population suffer from iron deficiency. Iron is lost from the body through sweat, blood loss, and through shedding of intestinal cells. An average adult man needs around 1mg of iron, while an average menstruating female needs 1.5mg. Below is a rough sketch of recommended dietary iron intakes per day:

  • Infants 0-6 months – 0.2mg for breastfed infants
  • Infants 7-12 months – 11mg
  • Girls and boys aged 1-3 years – 9mg
  • Girls and boys aged 4-8 years – 10mg
  • Girls and boys aged 9-13 years – 8mg
  • Boys aged 14-18 years – 11mg
  • Girls aged 14-18 years – 15mg
  • Women aged 19-50 years – 18mg
  • Pregnant women – 27mg
  • Lactating women – 9-10mg
  • Women aged 51 years and over – 8 mg
  • Men aged 19 years and over – 8 mg

So… what are the foods that are high in iron? Red meat, varieties of nuts, molluscs, beans and pulses… and the list goes on. For your convenience, here are the top 15 foods that are super rich in iron.

1. Molluscs (Clams, Mussels, Oysters, Cuttlefish, Octopus, Scallops, )

Iron: 28mg – 100mg

Next time you are out at a restaurant, go for the seafood platter. Molluscs like clams, mussels, oysters, and squids are crammed with nutrients, zinc, and vitamin B12. If molluscs are not your choice of food, why don’t you go for salmons, tuna, and haddock? They may have less iron in them compared to molluscs, but they are a fine substitute. If you prefer to eat seafood at home, here is a variety of recipes for you to try!

Advertising

2. Liver (Chicken, Beef, Lamb, Pork, and Turkey)

Iron: 23mg – 100mg

The first thing that comes to one’s mind is that liver consumption will risk an abundance of cholesterol. Did you know that liver contains heme iron, minerals, vitamins, and proteins? It is better to consume in moderation for pregnant women, because high levels of vitamin A present in the liver may be connected to birth defects. Here is a recipe for liver that is easy to make and is palatable at the same time.

3. Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder

Iron: 17mg – 100mg

Dark chocolate is full of minerals and contains a surprising amount of fiber. It not only reduces heart attack risks, but also boosts happiness, eliminating depression. Cocoa powder has similar effects as well. While you can simply buy a bar of dark chocolate (the darker the better), with cocoa powder, you can actually add to your salads or even cereals!

4. Seeds (Pumpkin, Squash, Sesame, Sunflower, Flax)

Iron: 15mg – 100mg

These seeds are super healthy, and the best thing about them is either you can eat them as snacks, or you can add them to any of your meals to increase the amount of iron. You can pop some of the seeds on to your favorite salad, or mix them in a bread or muffin recipe.

5. Dried Fruits (Apricots, Raisins, Peaches, Prunes, Figs, Currants)

Iron: 6.3mg – 100mg

Another super healthy snack that is stashed with nutrients, this is a delicious option for those with sweet tooth. If you are wondering about the difference between dried fruits and fresh fruits, it has been found out that dried fruits are in certain ways much healthier than fresh fruits!

Advertising

6. Nuts (Cashew, Peanuts, Pine, Almond, Hazelnut)

Iron: 6.1mg – 100mg

Nuts about nuts? Good for you! Each type of nut has its own nutrient value and is rich in iron, calcium, protein, and sufficient amount of fat. You can have 10-11 unsalted nuts per day as a snack, or you can add it to your preferred recipe. Here is a fruity mincemeat with almonds recipe for you to enjoy!

7. Red meat (Beef and Lamb)

Iron: 3.7mg – 100mg

This is only applicable for the lean tenderloin of beef and lamb. Avoid the fats and you are good to eat. Many of you will be skeptical about this point, but just like liver, red meats contain heme iron which is easily absorbed by the body than other minerals. Also, please avoid cooking the meat in excess oil and spices. You can try a steak recipe for an easy dinner in less than thirty minutes.

8. Beans and Pulses (Lentils, Kidney beans, White beans, Black beans, Black-eyed peas, Chickpeas, Lima beans)

Iron: 3.7mg – 100mg

This is perfect for the vegetarians. The iron value for beans and pulses are the same as for red meats. For example, one cup of chickpeas contains a generous amount of protein, besides containing high amount of iron. But the catch is that these foods have non-heme iron. Non-heme iron can only be absorbed through vitamin C. It is known as the iron booster superstar. Papaya, bell pepper, broccoli, citrus fruits (oranges, strawberries, etc) contain enough vitamin C. So, if you can add some of these iron boosters with your beans and/or pulses, the iron intake will be easily digested by your system. Check out this healthy recipe for lentils.

9. Dried Thyme

Iron: 3.7mg – 100mg

Dried thyme has been considered  one  of the most nutritional foods. It is rich in fiber, vitamin A and C, potassium, manganese, magnesium, selenium, and the best part is it has zero cholesterol! Fresh and dried thyme can be found throughout the year, and you can add them in anything you want to: eggs, salads, or just sprinkle a handful of leaves on top of your pasta! Dried thyme is often used in herbal medicines. Learn more about thyme and you will be surprised to see the benefits of dried thyme!

Advertising

10. Dark, Leafy Greens (Spinach, Raw Kale, Cooked Turnip Greens, Raw Beet Green, Swiss Chard)

Iron: 3.6mg – 100mg

Did you know that one cup of cooked spinach is enough to provide you with 6mg of iron, plenty of protein, fiber, calcium, and vitamins A and E? Now you know the proper answer to Popeye’s spinach power! Since it is a non-heme iron, it is best cooked with other ingredients that contain vitamin C. The biggest worry is that kids dislike having spinach. You can sneak it into a recipe that kids enjoy such as this vegetable lasagna, something  both children and adults can savor.

11. Blackstrap Molasses

Iron: 3.5mg – 100mg

Studies have proved surprising health benefits of blackstrap molasses. It is not only a natural sweetener but is highly nutritious. You can use it as a hair tonic, or as a substitute for sugar, safe for diabetes patients, and you can use it as a health supplement.

12. Tofu

Iron: 2.7mg – 100mg

Research shows that tofu is an excellent source of iron, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, protein, and contains all eight essential amino acids. It is also a great option for vegetarians. Tofu can be used as a staple ingredient, but keep in mind that calcium can interfere with iron absorption. It is therefore recommended to buy “tofu without added calcium”. Here is a collection of ways to cook tofu.

13. Potato (Baked, Russets)

Iron: 2.1mg – 100mg

One medium baked potato contains good source of vitamins and minerals. Whereas one large russet potato contains more iron than white or red potato. The U.S Department of Agriculture recommends daily intake of potatoes for both men and women. It is also said that if you eat potatoes with meat, the non-heme iron will help in absorbing heme iron found in meat, thus helping to absorb more iron from the potatoes. You can also make a tasty potato meal ahead of time and have it for a lunch.

Advertising

14. Whole Grains, Fortified Cereals, Bran

Iron: 1.5mg – 100mg

If you are a cereal kind of a person, then kudos to you, because you are starting the day in a healthy way. These whole grains, fortified cereals, or brans contain enough iron, calcium, fiber, zinc and vitamin B to keep you energized for a long time. Check out the nutritional facts for a better understanding. Please keep in mind that whole grains are good source of iron and MUST not be taken with iron supplement.

15. Egg Noodles (Cooked)

Iron: 1.5mg – 100mg

Another staple food option, egg noodles can be very well substituted for rice. Unlike rice, noodles won’t make you feel heavy and are loaded with important vitamins and minerals. You can cook egg noodles in any way you want to. It is always better to keep the ingredients simple, and fresh. Here is an easy recipe to make egg noodles healthy, yet hearty.

Always remember, too much of calcium or calcium supplements, tannins, phytates, egg proteins and antacids are iron blockers. They will decrease the absorption of iron in your body. Instead, make sure you add vitamin C rich foods with iron rich cuisines. It does not matter whether you are a male or a female, if you don’t have enough iron in your system you are bound to suffer from anemia. It is very common and you’ll be successful in defeating anemia if you always have a iron rich food in your daily intake.

More by this author

15 Best Autobiographies Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives 20 Medical Benefits of Marijuana You Probably Never Knew Science Says People Who Talk To Themselves Are Geniuses Quotes From Socrates That Are Full Of Wisdom 10 Little Things Happy Couples Do Every Day

Trending in Health

1 7 Stress Management Techniques to Get You Back on Track 2 Weight Loss Plan And Program: Create Your Own One 3 4 Simple Desk-Based Stretches for Effective Lower Back Pain Relief 4 Why You Should Go For Vitamin D But Not Vitamin C To Prevent The Cold 5 Reasons of Insomnia and How to Combat It (The Complete Guide)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 30, 2020

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

Feeling tired all the time?

Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

What Happens When You’re Too Tired

If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

  • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
  • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
  • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
  • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
  • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
  • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
  • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

Unfortunately, yes!

Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

  1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
  2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

Advertising

Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

Symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low stamina
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation

These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

  1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
  2. Exercising regularly
  3. Using stressbusters
  4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

Advertising

I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

  • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
  • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
  • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
  • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

L — Living Healthy

Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

1. Unplug

Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

2. Unwind

Do something to relax.

Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

3. Get Comfortable

Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

Advertising

Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

E — Exercise

Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

That’s what happened in my case.

But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

That made sense to me.

So, I decided to swim.

I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

A — Attitude

Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

Breathing.

But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

Advertising

Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
  2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
  3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
  4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
  5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
  6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

N — Nutrition

Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

  1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
  2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
  3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
  4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
  5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
  6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
  7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
  8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
  9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

The Bottom Line

If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

  • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
  • Regular Exercise You Love
  • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
  • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

More Tips to Help You Rest Better

Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
[2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
[3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
[4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
[5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
[6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
[7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
[8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

Read Next