If you want to lose weight, gain more energy and feel fabulous then listen up – increasing your iron intake is essential.
Iron is an important mineral that has many vital functions in the body. As with other nutrients such as iodine, a deficiency in iron may affect the health of your thyroid gland.
This small gland in your neck secretes hormones that regulate your metabolism. Multiple studies have found that low levels of iron in the body may be associated with impaired thyroid function and a disruption in the production of thyroid hormones.
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism, or decreased thyroid function include weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath and weight gain. Similarly, a deficiency in iron can cause symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, headaches and shortness of breath, too.
Treating iron deficiency can allow your metabolism to work more efficiently and can fight off fatigue to help increase your activity level and help with weight loss.
Reductions in body weight, waist circumference and body mass index have all been seen to improve when you increase your levels of iron. Unfortunately, many people don’t get enough iron in their diets.
What should we eat to increase our iron levels?
Spinach provides many health benefits for very few calories. 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of cooked spinach contain 3.6 mg of iron, or 20 per cent of the reference daily intake (RDI). Although this is non-heme iron, which isn’t absorbed very well, spinach is also rich in vitamin C. This is important, since vitamin C significantly boosts iron absorption.
Spinach is also rich in antioxidants called carotenoids that may reduce your risk of cancer, inflammation and protect your eyes from disease. Consuming spinach and other leafy greens with fat helps your body absorb the carotenoids, so make sure to eat a healthy fat like olive oil with your spinach.
Legumes are loaded with nutrients such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas and soybeans. They’re a great source of iron, especially for vegetarians. One cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils contains 6.6 mg, which is 37 per cent of the RDI. Legumes are also rich in folate, magnesium and potassium and can reduce inflammation in people with diabetes.
Legumes can also decrease heart disease risk for people with metabolic syndrome and may help you lose weight. They’re very high in soluble fibre, which can increase feelings of fullness and reduce calorie intake. In order to maximise iron absorption, consume legumes with foods high in vitamin C, such as tomatoes, greens or citrus fruits.
Pumpkin seeds are a tasty, portable snack. A one-ounce (28-gram) serving of pumpkin seeds contains 4.2 mg of iron, which is 23 per cent of the RDI. They are also a good source of vitamin K, zinc and manganese. They’re also among the best sources of magnesium which many people are deficient.
A grain known as a pseudocereal, just one cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa provides 2.8 mg of iron, which is 15 per cent of the RDI and it contains no gluten, making it a good choice for people with celiac disease or other forms of gluten intolerance.
Quinoa is also higher in protein than many other grains, as well as rich in folate, magnesium, copper, manganese and many other nutrients. This super grain also has more antioxidant activity than many other grains.
Antioxidants help protect your cells from the damage done by free radicals, which are formed during metabolism and in response to stress.
If you are a meat eater turkey meat is a healthy and delicious choice. It’s also a good source of iron, especially dark turkey meat. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) portion of dark turkey meat has 2.3 mg of iron, which is 13 per cent of the RDI.
In comparison, the same amount of white turkey meat contains only 1.3 mg. Turkey also packs an impressive 29 grams of protein per serving and several B vitamins and minerals, including 30 per cent of the RDI for zinc and 58 per cent of the RDI for selenium.
Consuming high protein foods like turkey may aid weight loss since protein makes you feel full and increases your metabolic rate after a meal. High protein intake can also help prevent the muscle loss that occurs during weight loss and as part of the ageing process.
Broccoli is incredibly nutritious. A one cup (156-gram) serving of cooked broccoli contains 1 mg of iron, which is six per cent of the RDI, making it a fairly good source, and a serving of broccoli also packs 168 per cent of the RDI for vitamin C, which helps your body absorb the iron better. The same serving size is also high in folate and provides six grams of fibre as well as some vitamin K.
Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which also includes cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale and cabbage.
Cruciferous vegetables contain indole, sulforaphane and glucosinolates, which are plant compounds believed to be protective against cancer.