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Overcoming the World's Most Common Nutrient Deficiency: Tips to Maintain an Iron-Rich Diet

Updated on January 20, 2020
Spinach is  an excellent source of iron. It can be prepared in a variety of ways; cold, hot, in salads and in casseroles.
Spinach is an excellent source of iron. It can be prepared in a variety of ways; cold, hot, in salads and in casseroles. | Source

Iron is reported to be the number one nutrient deficiency worldwide. And yet it is one of the easiest nutrients to include in one’s diet. Such is the wide variety of foods rich in iron that it leaves the world’s nutritionists and scientists all scratching their heads and reaching for other possibilities and solutions to make it yet easier for people to obtain at least the daily recommended amount of only 18gm. While the clock is ticking on their goal of wiping out iron deficiency in this century, you don’t have to be part of the disappointing statistics. Here are a few helpful tips to help you and your family maintain a healthy amount of iron for your body’s use everyday.

Red meat is a good lasting source of iron.  It is usually a physician's first recommendation for iron deficiency anemia.
Red meat is a good lasting source of iron. It is usually a physician's first recommendation for iron deficiency anemia. | Source

Red Meats

Probably the quickest way to remedy iron-poor blood is with a good steak, juicy burger, or a big bowl of chili. Although it’ll be enough to revive and rejuvenate you for a few days it’s a good idea to incorporate other alternative iron-rich foods that don’t pack so much cholesterol throughout the week to maintain the energy you need that comes from having iron sufficient blood.

Consider Lamb

If you feel you must have red meat more often, lamb is a good choice. It is easier to digest than other red meats, has low saturated fat and contains almost 30% iron. If you've never cooked lamb before consider the lamb recipes

Beans and legumes are affordable and sustainable sources of iron supplementation that are often overlooked.
Beans and legumes are affordable and sustainable sources of iron supplementation that are often overlooked. | Source

Beans And Legumes

Beans and legumes don’t have the greatest reputation except on the tables of those who have always loved them and regularly consume them. It’s a shame because beans whether in the can or soaked and cooked from scratch have exceptional nutrition. All beans have a good amount of protein, fiber, some B vitamins, magnesium and a good amount of iron too. And with such an abundance of and variety of legumes to choose from, one need never get bored of eating the same bean dish repeatedly unless you want to or it’s a favorite.

Do You Know If You're Getting Enough Iron In Your Diet?

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The Other Iron Dilemma: Too Much Or Too Little

Aside from holding the award for nutrient deficiency, to complicate matters, iron has another distinction. For some people, iron is poison. It’s a hereditary condition called hemochromatosis that overburdens the body with excess iron. The excess iron can cause an onset of diabetes and liver cancer. On the flip side, there are people whose bodies have trouble absorbing iron, causing an iron deficiency.

Spinach & Other Greens

Hot or cold, iron-rich spinach can be both delicious and delightful. A low-cost green leafy vegetable, spinach can be prepared in as many ways as one can imagine. You can buy it in the can, frozen or fresh and cook it up yourself. You can use it fresh in a salad, mixing it up with other equally iron-rich greens like swiss chard or kale, or switch it out occasionally with various lettuce varieties for an extra mineral boost.

Well-Kept Culinary Secret

If you haven’t had the pleasure of enjoying creamed spinach, you have been missing out on a culinary gem. There was a time that creamed spinach only showed up on the tables of the well to do or in upper-crest European homes. Today it can be found at deli counters, specialty markets and local grocers alike around the world. It’s become a growing trend over a couple of decades. The real secret however is the important nutrient load of iron and vitamins, A,C and calcium. A single person or a college student on a tight budget could eat well with creamed spinach being a regular staple, hopefully paired with other low-cost nutrient-rich foods too.

Double-Iron Pesto


1/2 cup Pumpkin Seeds

1 cup Fresh Spinach,chopped

1/4 cup Olive Oil

*1 clove of garlic if desired


Using a mortar and pestle, grind up ingredients one at a time and put each aside in small dishes or bowls until all is ground. When each is ground, mix together with olive oil. Refrigerate until ready to use.

*Alternately a food processor can be used. After some experimentation, there is a noticeable difference in texture as well as taste. You be the judge. You may find one more to your liking than the other.

Pumpkin Seeds

Think pumpkin seeds are reserved for only health nuts? Perhaps you should rethink that, because these olive green seeds are a handy source of iron. They are small, have good shelf life, travel well in plastic or other containers and are delicious. They are so versatile that you can eat them plain, bake them in breads, toss them in any salad or make them into a pesto to spread on French bread or make enough to mix with marinara sauce and garlic for spooning over pasta.

Variety Of Iron-rich Choices

There’s a harvest full of simple iron-rich foods available on this planet. Even if you don’t have access to or don't like red meats or any other meats, there are plenty of other foods like beans, legumes, spinach and seeds that offer up their bounty of iron too. Take advantage of them.

And if you're someone with iron absorption challenges, seek the help you need from the resources available. Be Well !


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    • Babbyii profile imageAUTHOR

      Barb Johnson 

      5 years ago from Alaska's Kenai Peninsula

      Thanks Vocalcoach ! It's a good feeling to know that you're eating what works for you. Being a vegetarian has it's challenges but most of them come from being actively knowledgeable about natural foods and their bounteous nutrition. Glad the article gave you confidence about your regular diet.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      5 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      What a helpful hub on maintaining an iron rich diet! Being a vegetarian I often hear that my iron level is probably low since I don't eat meat. My main staples are beans, veggies and yogurt. I love spinach and eat it often. I like to think that I'm fine where iron is concerned.

      Love this hub and voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and will share!

    • Babbyii profile imageAUTHOR

      Barb Johnson 

      5 years ago from Alaska's Kenai Peninsula

      It's a power food for those who can eat it.

    • adevwriting profile image

      Arun Dev 

      5 years ago from United Countries of the World

      Spinach is good for vegetarians.


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