Pump up the iron with iron-rich foods

Yellow weight on a barbell.
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While you may be pumping iron at your gym, your body is pumping iron every day. Most of the iron that our bodies absorb is used to make hemoglobin, a part of red blood cells that transport oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body. Since our bodies cannot make this essential nutrient, we need to make sure that we are eating foods high in iron to avoid iron deficiency anemia.

Only about ten to thirty percent of the iron you consume is absorbed and used by the body. That’s because most of the iron we get in our diet is in the form of non-heme iron. Plant sources, such as dark leafy greens, tofu and beans and lentils, contain virtually all non-heme iron, which isn’t as easily absorbed. Animal sources contain both heme and non-heme iron. Our bodies absorb two to three times more iron from animal sources than from plant sources. Liver, pork, beef, oysters, chicken and turkey have high amounts of absorbable iron.

To increase absorption of non-heme iron, combine vegetarian iron sources with foods and drinks high in vitamin C. Bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C and will enhance iron absorption. Too much iron is harmful to the body. Therefore, do not take iron supplements unless you’ve spoken with your healthcare team first.


Pot Roast (Printable PDF)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and quartered

6 carrots, ends trimmed, cut in 2-inch pieces

3-4 lb. chuck roast

1 cup red wine

2 cups reduced sodium beef broth

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 275°F. In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots, browning them on both sides, about 6 minutes. Remove to a plate. Add a little more oil to the pan if needed and sear the roast until browned, 1-2 minutes on all sides. Remove the roast to a plate. Add red wine to the hot stockpot, scraping the bits from the bottom. Place the roast and vegetables back into the pot and pour beef stock over the roast. Add garlic, pepper, rosemary and thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Cover and roast for 3-4 hours, until the meat is at least 145°F. Remove bay leaf and herb sprigs.

Yield: 8 servings


Nutrition Facts (per serving): 340 calories, 10 grams fat, 320 milligrams sodium, 9 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 46 grams protein