[FATFREE Home] [Recipe Archive] [About the Mailing List and how to join]
[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

RE: Iron

> Hello...I am looking this up...the book says only 2% of the
> iron in spinach
> is bioavailable.   Plants and legumes contain non-heme iron
> as opposed to
> meat which is heme iron.  " Plant foods, such as carrots,
> potatoes, beets,
> pumpkin, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, turnips
> and sauerkraut,
> are good sources of iron although it's in a less readily absorbed form
> called nonheme iron.  Absorption of the nonheme iron in
> legumes and iron-
> fortified cereals can be enhanced by combining them with vitamin C."

I would like to further clarify that it is only spinach that has such a low
bioavailability.  It is not just because it is non-heme iron but because it
contains high levels of oxalates, which prevent absorption.  The other plant
sources of iron are much more readily absorbed, although they may contain
other inhibitors like phytates, fibers, polyphenols, tannic acid, etc.  In
my nutrition book the highest vegetable sources of iron (in descending
order) are: soybeans, tofu, spinach (with a star denoting low
bioavailability), peaches, lima beans, navy beans, black-eyed peas, parsley,
kidney beans, prune juice, baked potato, beet greens, what germ, split peas,
green peas, dandelion greens, bok choy... after that you are getting into
sources with pretty low levels.

I want to second the suggestions to eat a source of vitamin C with your good
sources of iron and to eat fortified cereals.  Here is a quick quote from my
nutrition text on iron absorption: "The amount of iron ultimately absorbed
from a meal depends on the interplay between enhancing and inhibiting
factors present.  For maximum iron absorption, use one or both enhancing
factors at every meal -- that is, use . . . (reference to meat deleted . . .
and fruits or vegetables (for vitamin C).  This strategy permits even the
person with limited food energy, and therefore iron, intakes to secure
enough of this vital nutrient."

I was always borderline anemic before I became vegetarian.  Now I get normal
readings.  I credit fortified cereal, whole grains, beans, and increased
vitamin C.