Lately, I have been feeling exhausted. I have attributed it to everything from not sleeping well, the weather, over training, and just plain having too much to do.
Seeking a more tangible cure, I looked at my diet, which often holds the solution to my ails. Could I be anemic? I don’t eat red meat, and my spinach intake is not of Popeye proportions. I avoid gluten, which makes me sluggish, therefore I don’t eat iron fortified breads or cereals. I could be onto something.
I immediately consulted Dr. Google, and who served up a list of iron rich foods.
There are definitely some pleasant surprises for those of us for whom eating liver is not an option!
While meat has the highest amount and easiest absorbed source of iron, there are many other healthy choices that I find more palatable.
Fish: Salmon, halibut, perch and tuna are all very high in heme or animal based iron, which is most readily absorbed by the body. Clams, oysters and mussels are also good sources, but I find them too slimy for my taste!
Beans: Canned Lima beans, kidney beans, chickpeas or split peas are all good options. Be sure to rinse them, to reduce the starchiness, and the calories.
Pumpkin or sesame seeds
Nuts: Peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pistachio, almonds, and cashews
Dried fruits: Raisins, apricots, peaches or prunes (do I sense a trail mix or homemade granola thing evolving here?)
Cocoa powder and chocolate
The drying of fruits and vegetables ups the iron factor, topping its fresh counterpart dramatically. By removing the water, the nutrients are increased, as are the sugars and calories. Beware!
Food pairings are also an important factor in helping your body actually absorb the iron.
Fruit and fruit juices, such as orange juice, cantaloupe, and strawberries
Vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes and red or green peppers
Red wine, coffee and tea (boo!)
Spinach, chard, beet greens and sweet potatoes (spinach?!) Apparently, these foods contain high levels of oxalic acids, which prevent the absorption of iron into the system. Who knew?
Whole grains and bran
Now that I know my diet is not to blame for being tired, its time to look at other factors. Perhaps powering down the computer might help me get a better night’s sleep?