I've been exhausted lately, and couldn't figure out why, and it suddenly dawned on me that I am probably anemic. On and off in my life, I've suffered from anemia, and my guess is that's what is going on. I'll end up going to the doctor this week to find out for sure, but I already know what I need to do - get more iron in my diet. It's a challenge to do so on a meat free diet.
For Lent, I gave up eating meat, which is probably how I ended up anemic this time. I wasn't careful about watching my iron intake, and I wasn't taking any multivitamins or iron supplements. Upon reflection, I should have done so. A woman of my age should get 18 mg of iron per day. Without eating red meat, that is a real challenge. Also, iron from meat sources is more easily absorbed than iron from plant sources.
Here is a list of foods I found that I can eat that are higher in iron...
Clams, breaded, fried, ¾ cup - 3.0 mg
Lentils, boiled, 1 cup - 6.6 mg
Beans, kidney, mature, boiled, 1 cup - 5.2 mg
Beans, lima, large, mature, boiled, 1 cup - 4.5 mg
Beans, navy, mature, boiled, 1 cup - 4.5 mg
Beans, black or pinto, mature, boiled, 1 cup - 3.6 mg
Blackstrap molasses - great source of iron, but how to eat it?
Blackstrap molasses is often cited as an iron rich food source, at 2.3 mg for 2 tsp, I wondered how to eat it. It is very strongly flavored...here's an idea for a recipe for bittersweet granola that includes it that looks interesting with it's iron content
4 cups rolled oats - 29.6 mg 0 iron
3/4 cup raw wheat germ - 5.4 g iron
1/4 cup flax seed meal - 1.6 mg iron
1/4 cup hemp seed - 2.9 mg iron
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes - .8 mg iron
1/2 cup sunflower seeds - 2.4 mg iron
1 cup chopped almonds - 3.4 mg iron
4 T blackstrap molasses - 13.8 mg iron
4 T maple syrup - .8 mg iron
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil
Mix and spread on two cookie sheets. Bake for 30 minutes at 300 F, mixing occasionally. Let cool and add 2 cups dried fruit of your choice. The highest iron dried fruits per cup are:
Dried peaches - 6.5 mg
Currants - 4.1 mg
Pears - 3.8 mg
Apricots - 3.5 mg
So, the total iron content of this recipe is 73 mg of iron, or about 7 mg per serving. That's pretty good for something that isn't red meat!
Spinach - not the iron superpower you thought it was...
Popeye often ate spinach to boost his iron intake, but spinach really isn't a superpower in the iron department. Some scientists in the 1920s accidentally put the decimal point in the wrong place when documenting the iron content of a can of spinach....it's known as the spinach iron myth. Plus, because of the oxalic acid in spinach, the iron it does have can't be absorbed easily.