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Iron-packed Recipes For Women's Health

Written by Reshma Pathare on Wed, 16 November 2022

Key Highlights

  • Loss of iron is more common in women due to blood loss during menstruation.
  • Replenishing the iron loss can be best achieved by consuming a variety of iron-rich food varieties.
  • Trying out various iron-packed recipes will make for an interesting and experimentative way of consuming a variety of food ingredients as well as fortifying our body's requirements for iron.
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Iron - The indispensable one

Iron has always played an important role in health as well as disease. Iron is essential for the production of blood. Seventy percent of our body's iron is a component of red blood cells in the form of a pigment known as hemoglobin that plays an important role in exchanging oxygen from our blood to various body tissues. Read further to know what foods improve health and hemoglobin.

Iron in the form of myoglobin is also present in the muscle cells of our body. Myoglobin accepts, stores, transports as well as releases oxygen. Besides, iron is a part of proteins, and various enzymes and has multiple roles to play in respiration, metabolism, and building our immunity.

Foods with iron can help in increasing hemoglobin levels in our body, and therefore when devising a meal plan, you must select the right foods that make for an iron-rich diet for women.

Iron stores may get depleted

Iron is stored in the body in the form of ferritin molecules. An adult male has about 1000 mg of stored iron which may be sufficient for about 3 years, while a woman has only about 300 mg which can last for not more than 6 months.

A fine balance between dietary uptake and loss helps to maintain the right amount of iron in the body. Iron is highly conserved and not easily lost from the body. About 1mg of iron is lost each day through the body through sloughing of skin cells, and mucosal surfaces like the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. But blood loss during pregnancy, menstruation, or any other kind of bleeding can lower its levels.

Menstruation increases the average daily iron loss to about 2 mg per day. Iron losses through bleeding, excessive menstrual blood loss, and iron deficiency anemia can be one of the most common causes of depletion of iron stores in women leading to iron deficiency. So, it is important to keep note of So, it is important to keep note of what to eat and what not to do through the period days!

Replenish the lost iron through iron-rich foods for women

Consuming foods high in iron for women can help prevent iron deficiency and improve general health. So, where can I find iron in food?

  • Dark-green leafy vegetables like spinach, seaweed, watercress, broccoli, asparagus, and parsley are excellent sources of high iron vegetarian recipes. Other food varieties like lean red meat, chicken, seafood including oysters, lentils and beans, and dried fruits such as prunes, figs, apricots, nuts, seeds, and soya can be included in our regular diet in various forms to satisfy our nutritional needs.
  • Kale, seaweed, watercress, broccoli, asparagus, and parsley are the best source of iron for women.
  • Other food varieties like chicken, seafood including oysters, lentils and beans, and dried fruits such as prunes, figs, apricots, nuts, seeds, and soya can be included in our regular diet in various forms to satisfy our nutritional needs.
  • A diet with foods high in iron is recommended for pregnant women. What affects iron absorption in the body? Food combinations that reduce or restrict the absorption can iron can be a problem. Make sure to avoid combining iron-rich foods with dairy.
  • Red beans, black beans, white beans, sesame seeds, dry fruits, leafy vegetables, red vegetables, bell peppers, and nut butter are also very good sources of foods high in iron for women.
  • Food combinations that reduce or restrict the absorption can iron can be a problem. Make sure to avoid combining iron-rich foods with dairy.

Iron-rich recipes for women

What are the foods to improve health and hemoglobin you ask? Here are a few iron-packed recipes that you can add to your diet to make it will add a little variety and zing to your daily meals and at the same time fortify your nutritional requirements.

Charred White bean pizza

Start your day with this iron-packed breakfast with white beans, whole wheat pizza, marinara, and spinach together giving you 6g of iron.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cooked white beans
  • 1 medium whole wheat pita, split in half
  • 1/2 cup plain marinara sauce
  • leaves from 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 2 large radishes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Method:

  • Add white beans to a medium skillet and heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring a few times throughout. Remove and set aside when ready.
  • Split the whole wheat pita in half, spread about 1/4 cup marinara sauce on each half, and place in the hot skillet, marinara sauce side up. Heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
  •  Sprinkle the thyme leaves evenly between the two halves, then the spinach, beans, and radishes. Sprinkle cheese on top.
    Every bite into your pizza is a healthy start towards a wonderful day ahead.

Spinach, sweet potato, and lentil dal

Dark leafy greens like spinach and humble sweet potatoes and lentils are top iron-rich foods. Whipping up an interesting plant-based meal with these ingredients will help boost your body's iron store. Spinach, sweet potato, and lentil dal are something that you will fall in love with once u try them out.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 finely chopped 1 garlic clove
  • Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 red chili, finely chopped
  • 1½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 sweet potatoes (about 400g/14oz), cut into even chunks
  • 250g red split lentils
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • 80g bag of spinach
  • 4 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal,
  • Salt to taste
  • to serve ½ small pack of Thai basil, leaves torn, to serve

Method:

  • Heat 1 tbsp. sesame oil in a pan.
  • Add 1 finely chopped red onion and cook over low heat for 10 mins, stirring occasionally, until softened.
  • Add 1 crushed garlic clove, a finely chopped thumb-sized piece of ginger, and 1 finely chopped red chili, cook for 1 min
  • Add 1½ tsp ground turmeric and 1½ tsp ground cumin and cook for 1 min more.
  • At medium heat, add 2 sweet potatoes, cut into even chunks, and stir everything together so the potato is coated in the spice mixture.
  • Now add in 250g red split lentils, 600ml vegetable stock, and some seasoning.
  • Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and cook for 20 mins until the lentils are tender and the potato is just holding its shape.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning, then gently stir and fry the 80g spinach. Once wilted, top with the 4 diagonally sliced spring onions and ½ small pack of torn basil leaves to serve.

You will surely find it hard to resist. It will satisfy your taste buds as well as leave you feeling full.

Lamb and chickpea soup

A heart-warming iron-rich soup on certain days provides the necessary nutrition and makes up for a wholesome meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 carrots, diced (170g)
  • 3 large celery sticks, chopped
  • 125glean lamb leg steak, all visible fat trimmed away, cut into pea-sized pieces
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 400g can green lentils
  • 210g can chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
  • ½ small bunch of parsley, chopped, plus a few whole leaves

Method:

  • Heat the oil in a saucepan.
  • Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and cook over high heat, until they start to soften.
  • Stir in the lamb and spices, and cook for 5-7 mins.
  • Add lentils and chickpeas, then stir in the tomato purée and bouillon with 1 liter of hot water
  • Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 30 mins until the veg is tender.
  • Season with chopped parsley.

Spring vegetable quinoa salad

You cannot go wrong with this dish. A cup of asparagus is a rich source of iron and helps in managing blood sugar. Teaming it up with peas and quinoa will ensure that you consume 4 mg of iron for the day.

You will need:

  • 1 cup asparagus spears, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup radishes, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Method:

  • Boil asparagus and peas for about 1 minute. Immediately remove from heat, drain, and place asparagus and peas into an ice water bath to stop the cooking. Let cool and drain.
  • Toss-cooked asparagus and peas, quinoa, arugula, radishes, and mint.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, and pepper. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

We hope that this article has illustrated the benefits of iron for women's health, and you will try the above-mentioned healthy food recipes to increase your iron levels, and benefit your health.

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Reshma Pathare

Reshma Kulkarni-Pathare has been a self-employed media professional since 1999. Starting off as a Freelance Journalist for Times of India Thane Plus, Reshma went onto write for more than 45 national and international publications including Times of India, New Woman, Femina, Indian Express, The Hindu, BBC Good Homes and many more. While her forte has been lifestyle writing, she is equally proficient in writing health articles. Her health articles have been published in Health International (Dubai), New Woman, Femina, and Mother & Baby.

Apart from being a journalist, Reshma also works as a copy-editor for self-publishing houses and academic journals.

She is an award-winning bi-lingual translator with more than 12 books published in her name.

She has been a Visiting Faculty Member for post-graduate department of mass media at MET College (Mumbai) and Welingkar WeSchool (Mumbai).

She has worked as a Consumer Marketing Insights Researcher for global organizations like CEB Iconoculture (USA) and Gartner (USA).

Consolidating her multifarious skills in the media, in 2021, Reshma launched her own boutique media agency called Talking Turkey Communications, which specializes in content writing, editing, and translation.

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  1. Abbaspour N, et al. Review on iron and its importance for human health. Journal of research in medical sciences: the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. 2014 Feb;19(2):164.
  2. Hemoglobin and Functions of iron. Available at https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/hemoglobin-and-functions-of-iron
  3. How to get more iron from your diet? Available at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322272
  4. Iron-rich recipes Available at https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/iron-rich-recipes
  5. Iron-rich vegetarian meals. Available at https://www.verywellhealth.com/iron-rich-vegetarian-meals-4143255