How to Eat Sufficient Iron on a Raw Food Diet
Iron is an essential part of the human diet. It forms an important part of the haemoglobin that then carries oxygen around our bodies and also helps to transport electrons within our cells.
There are two types of iron found in food, heme iron that is found in meat and non – heme iron that is found in other foods. Both can be used by the human body, though heme iron is more readily absorbed. Because of this fact it is recommended that anyone who is vegetarian or vegan aim to eat more iron that someone who consumes meat.
Although it is possible to eat some meats on a raw diet: for example the very fresh meats and fish used in sashimi and sushi dishes, many people following a raw diet are also avoiding eating animal products. As non-heme iron is less bioavailable (referring to the portion of the ingested substance that is actually absorbed and used by the body) to the human body it is recommended that anyone who does not eat meat aims to increase their iron intake by up to 1.8 times the standard recommend daily allowance.
Recommended amounts are:
Adult vegetarian /vegan men – 14mg a day
Adult vegetarian/vegan pre menopausal women – 33mg a day
Adult vegetarian/vegan post menopausal women – 14mg a day
Consuming foods rich in vitamin C at the same time as iron helps to increase the amount of iron that is absorbed by the body. If iron intake is too low a person may suffer symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, hair loss, irritability and impaired immune function. If a persons iron intake remains low over time then Iron-deficiency anaemia can result and lead to further health issues such as anxiety, breathlessness, insomnia, poor appetite, fainting and mouth ulcers.
Out of concern over developing anaemia, some people chose to take an iron supplement to be on the safe side but this can cause problems if care is not taken. Too much iron can cause problems with the body’s metabolism. Other than in the instance of supplements being over used or used unnecessarily iron overdose is rare especially in the case of a plant based diet as the body is able to regulate levels of non – heme iron easier than heme iron.
Green leafy vegetables and salad leaves are good, healthy and iron rich foods. These can be eaten raw or used to make green smoothies either on their own or combined with other fruits and vegetables. Spinach, kale, parsley and collard greens are good choices and then other veg and fruits can be added, along with water, or some raw milk if you like a thinner smoothies.
Beets and Pepper Smoothie High Iron Recipe
Source - (http://www.indiacurry.com/women/smoothiebeetredpepper.htm)
High iron beverage for Vegetarians and Vegans. Produce selected for Iron and Vitamin C
1. Beet: 1 Washed and cut up
2. Red Bell Pepper: 1 Washed cup up
3. Spinach leafs washed and cut up: ¼ Cup
4. Fresh Ginger chopped: 1 teaspoon
5. Fresh lemon juice: ½ teaspoon
6. Water: 1 cup
7. Salt to taste
8. Black pepper to taste
9. Ice cubes: 1 cup (optional)
Add all the ingredients and blend in electric blender or a food processor for about 30 seconds. Adjust salt, peppers and lemon juice to taste.
Simple and Quick Iron rich Cereal
A nice cereal, ideal for breakfast or any time of day and could be made up in batches a stored so you always have it on hand. Eat with milk like a traditional cereal, eat as a healthy snack or add some more dried fruits, pulse in a food processor and press into a container to make raw cereal bars.
Quick & Easy Morning Cereal (http://www.terawarner.com/blog/2009/07/are-you-getting-enough-iron-on-the-raw-vegan-diet/)
This cereal is so quick and easy, and my husband likes it more than all the really complicated ones that needs lots of dehydrating and prep time. Adding nut milk make the mix even more nutritious.
− 1 T pumpkin seeds, soaked
− 1 T sunflower seeds, soaked
− 1 T raisins
− 1 T dry apricots, finely diced
− 1 T prepared raw chocolate chips, chopped (or a few cacao nibs)
− Anything you want to add! Berries, fresh fruits cut into small cubes etc. are especially good
Toss all the ingredients together into a bowl, add some nut milk, and enjoy!
Iron Rich Foods and Tip for Use
Seeds such as sesame, pumpkin and sunflower can be made into raw crackers or breakfast type bars, eaten as they are as a snack or sprinkled onto salads, cereals and other foods.
Kale and spinach can be dried in a dehydrator or low oven to produce raw chips. These can be used with dips and also coated, for example with garlic or marinades to add other flavours.
Cashew nuts, pistachios and almonds are a good source of iron and have a range of uses in a raw food diet as well as being a great snack food. Almonds, cashew and brazil nuts can be made into very successful raw ‘cheeses’ such as those found on the cheese page at Nouveau raw. These can then be used as dairy cheese would be.
Dried fruits are another good source of iron that can be well utilised within a raw food diet. They can be used to sweeten foods and also mixed with nuts to create pie like crust for desserts or even to create cakes and other treats. A simple raw chocolate brownie can be made by combining the nuts of your choice and dried fruits (recipes often use medjool dates) with some raw cacao powder. Press the mixture into a container and refrigerate to firm. Raw honey or agave nectar can be used as a sweetener if needed. Dried fruits can be used in cereal mixes and can be eaten on their own, either dried or rehydrated in fruit juice or any liquid of your choice.
© 2013 Claire