Foods That Contain These Nutrients
While many people first think of meat and meat products as a source of iron, there are many non-meat options that can improve or prevent anemia. It may be necessary to balance your intake of these foods with meat and improve your intake of vitamin C to maximize the absorption of these sources.
Animal-based foods that provide heme iron include egg yolks, chicken, lean beef, pork, salmon, and tuna. Plant-based foods include dried beans, dried fruits such as prunes or raisins, almonds, Brazil nuts, and dark leafy greens such as broccoli, kale, spinach, and collard greens. Whole grains, including wheat, millet, oats, and brown rice also contain iron.
There is some controversy among nutrition professionals regarding whole grains and iron. Some support traditional practices of soaking whole grains before cooking to reduce the negative effects of phytates, which can bind to minerals and prevent absorption. Others believe that soaking is unnecessary in diets that are not heavily composed of grains and that also contain plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Tips for Incorporating These Foods
By carefully combining the different types of foods you eat, you can enhance iron absorption and improve or correct anemic conditions. When eating plant-based sources of iron, include additional foods that contain vitamin C — for example, a green salad topped with strawberries, beans with a tomato sauce, or oatmeal with a glass of orange or grapefruit juice. When eating foods from animals, include an iron-rich plant source as well to increase your absorption — for example, cook pork with beans in the slow cooker and serve it over brown rice.