Anemia affects about 3.5 million Americans, especially women. Anemia occurs when a person’s red blood cell (RBC) count is too low and the hemoglobin level in the blood falls below normal.
Hemoglobin consists of haeme (iron) and globin (protein). Both of these elements are required for supplying oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body.
Symptoms include a tingling sensation on the hands and legs, depression, memory loss, fatigue and weakness. Your doctor can diagnose the condition with a simple blood test.
Some of the main causes of anemia are a deficiency of iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid; lactation, during which a mother’s body requires more nutrients such as iron; excessive blood loss; and, worm infestation in the intestines and stomach.
A healthy diet plan is very important if you are anemic. You must include foods that contain vitamin B12, iron and folic acid.
Here are the top 10 superfoods to combat anemia.
All the different varieties of beans are a great source of iron, but you need to prepare them properly to get the benefit. Beans contain phytic acid that blocks the absorption of iron. The best way to reduce the phytic acid content is to soak the beans overnight in warm water before cooking them.
When it comes to iron content in beans, soybeans top the list. Just one cup of boiled soybeans meets half the recommended daily requirement of this mineral. Also, soybeans are a low-fat, high-protein food that help diminish anemia.
2. Whole Grain Bread
Whole grain bread is a good source of non-heme iron, which the body needs to fight an iron deficiency. While whole grain in high in iron content, it also has iron inhibitors in the form of phytic acid. But because whole grain bread is made after fermenting the grains, the phytic acid automatically gets reduced.
Just one slice of whole grain bread provides your body with about 6 percent of the daily iron requirement. Also, whole grain breads are enriched with additional nutrients that can help the body fight off many diseases and restore healthy biological functions.
Although oats are high in iron, they too contain phytic acid that inhibits iron absorption. However, you can buy oatmeal fortified with iron. Regular oatmeal is generally not fortified with iron; whereas many instant oatmeals are.
According to the USDA Nutrient Database, a cup of fortified instant oatmeal prepared with water meets 60 percent of the required daily amount of iron. Fortified oatmeal also contains B-12 and other B vitamins.
4. Red Meat
Red meat, such as beef and pork, contains a high amount of heme iron, which is easier for the body to absorb than plant-based non-heme iron. Liver is the best option to boost your blood with iron and B vitamins.
According to the USDA, beef liver has more than 600 percent of your daily requirements of iron and vitamin B-12.
Foods with lots of antioxidants as well as protein foods such as eggs help replenish vitamins lost during an anemic condition. Eggs provide a generous supply of dietary nutrients with very few calories.
One large egg contains about 1mg of iron which provides about 7% RNI (Reference Nutrient Intake) for females and 11% RNI for males.
The assimilation of iron increases when supplemented with ascorbic acid (vitamin C), so have a glass of orange juice with your eggs. Regular consumption of eggs also helps build strong joints and bones.
6. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a good source of iron. Just two tablespoons of peanut butter contains 0.6mg of iron. Adult men require 8mg whereas women require 18mg iron daily.
Simply have a peanut butter sandwich, along with a glass of orange juice. The vitamin C in the orange juice will increase the absorption of iron contained in the peanut butter. If you do not like the taste of peanut butter, munching on roasted peanuts will do the trick.
Leafy green vegetables like spinach are a good source of iron as well as vitamin C. Spinach also contains fiber, vitamins A, B9, C and E, calcium and beta-carotene that are essential for a healthy body.
Half a cup of boiled spinach contains 3.2mg of iron, or a little less then 20 percent of the daily requirement for women. You can also eat spinach in a salad, soup or any kind of side dish.
Other leafy green vegetables that that are beneficial for an anemic person are lettuce, celery, broccoli, fenugreek, watercress and kale.
Food rich in vitamin C, such as tomatoes, can also help combat anemia. The vitamin C helps the body absorb iron. Try to drink a glass of raw tomato juice, at least once a day.
Avoid caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee as they can interfere with iron absorption. Tomatoes also contain beta-carotene and vitamin E, which can improve the condition of your skin and hair.
Pomegranates contain vitamin C, iron, vitamins A and E, as well as fiber and potassium. You can maintain healthy blood flow in the body by eating pomegranates in any form, including juice.
Pomegranates supply iron to your blood and thus help reduce anemic symptoms including exhaustion, dizziness, weakness and hearing loss.
Beetroot, as a cooked vegetable or in salad form, is one of the best ways to combat anemia. You can also drink fresh beetroot juice.
Beetroot includes cleansing attributes along with a good amount of iron content. All these nutrients help to restore and reactivate the red blood cells, which in turn lead to an adequate supply of fresh oxygen throughout your body. To treat anemia, it is best to use red beetroot.
Adding these foods to your diet will help combat anemia and restore overall health. Also, it is important to drink plenty of water, get some sunshine, and exercise daily.