IRON is a very important mineral which is required to transport oxygen to the cells that keeps the body well-nourished and healthy. Without Iron, your body may not be able to produce enough haemoglobin, a substance contained in the red blood cells that helps in the transportation of oxygen to various tissues in our body. An iron-deficiency causes anaemia, if left untreated, may cause the cells to choke due to lack of oxygen. The same haemoglobin molecule also carries back the waste products from the micro-tissues to the lungs for removal.
There are 2 basic forms of dietary iron —– heme and nonheme. Heme Iron comes from animal products, basically anything that originally contains haemoglobin. Nonheme Iron is derived from plants. Most vegetarians and vegans may worry about getting enough iron in their diet, as it is better absorbed from meat sources like poultry and fish. But, iron from plants and vegetables IS HEALTHIER.
Here are some top vegetarian sources of Iron :
(1) SPINACH : It is one of the most convenient vegetarian sources of Iron, as it can be digested easily. Right from infants who can be fed with spinach soup, to the elderly who may have problems with chewing and digestion —— it’s great for people of all ages. To increase its nutritional value, one can also add a few drops of lemon juice. A combination of Vitamin C and iron is absorbed better and more easily by our body.
(2) LOTUS STEM : (Kamal Kakdi) —— The lotus stem, we see so frequently in markets, is a very rich source of iron. Lotus stem is a staple for many vegetarians in some states like Kashmir. During winters, it helps your body to build up the blood count. It can be cooked in several forms ——– as a vegetable cooked in curd, or as died chips or simply stir-fried with some masalas.
(3) JAGGERY (gud) : Jaggery is a winter favourite for many of us. It is also a very good source of haemoglobin. Jaggery, to be most effective, should be consumed with peanuts. This combination is far more powerful than jaggery alone.
(4) DANDELION : This is one of the most powerful remedies for the treatment of anaemia. Dandelion can be made into a concoction or the essential tincture of Dandelion can be purchased from health stores. Dandelion is very rich in several components, like B-12 vitamins, folic, iron and carotene.
(5) BEETROOT : This is another great source of iron for the body. It can be juiced along with carrots and apples to boost the haemoglobin content. Belonging to the same family as spinach, it is rich in iron, calcium, Vitamin-A and folic acid.
(6) SPIRULINA : It is a plant that is found in the sea and certain water-bodies. It has several minerals, beneficial to the human body. One of the minerals helps the body in making better amounts of haemoglobin. Spirulina is available as tablets or in powder-form. Spirulina has become popular the world over.
———– Dr. Shikha Sharma.