I remember how cool it was the first time I saw Olive Oyl eat a can of spinach to save Popeye from a sea hag. I was so excited to think how strong I could be as a little girl that I begged my mom to buy some. I can still remember sitting down to that bowl of canned spinach, taking a huge mushy bite, and thinking, “No boy is worth this!”
Since then I’ve learned to enjoy spinach and realize the importance of leafy greens in reducing the symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia.
Anemia is a condition where a person’s body has too few red blood cells or hemoglobin. This condition results in low oxygen levels in the body potentially causing: fatigue, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, pale skin, leg cramps or insomnia (Understanding Anemia - Symptoms, 2015). Anemia can be caused by blood loss, decreased or faulty red blood cell production, and destruction of red blood cells (Understanding Anemia – The Basics, 2015).
Iron-deficiency falls under faulty red blood cell production where there is: “blood loss, a lack of iron in your diet, an inability to absorb iron, and pregnancy” (Iron Deficiency, 2014).
An excellent way to increase your iron intake is to consume sufficient amounts of animal protein such as beef, pork or chicken. If you happen to be vegetarian or eat fewer meats, try salmon instead. Vegetables that are iron rich include spinach and other dark leafy greens. There are also various grains and breads and beans that are good to consider such as: whole wheat bread, bran cereals, dried beans, and lentils to name a few. At the bottom of this post is a link to a list of iron rich foods.
One thing to be aware of is certain foods and beverages contain iron inhibitors that keep your body from absorbing it properly; these can include coffee, tea, dairy, soy and eggs. While it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy them, it is recommended to consume them in between meals to lessen their impact.
Consuming iron rich foods can reduce the symptoms of anemia, providing you with more energy, an increased ability to concentrate, increased oxygen and increased immunity. What’s even better is that you don’t have to worry about a recipe to follow; just add these awesome foods to your diet and avoid the ones that block the iron absorption.
So if you’re looking to improve your overall health, or battle a sea hag, grab some spinach.
Iron Deficiency Anemia – Causes. (2014, January 2). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/iron-deficiency-anemia/basics/causes/con-20019327.
Understanding Anemia – The Basics. (2015, March 4). WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/understanding-anemia-basics
Understanding Anemia – Symptoms. (2015, March 4). WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/understanding-anemia-symptoms.