Do you often get tired and lethargic during the day? This could be a sign of iron deficiency. Iron is an important nutrient that plays a vital role in the production of blood cells; hemoglobin in the body. Hemoglobin helps transfer oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body.
Statistics show that 10% of women might be low in iron during pregnancy. Children need a lesser amount of iron every day compared to adults. Women require more iron compared to men as we lose blood every month.
As we age, our need for iron increases which ranges between 8-18mg per day.
Anemia or iron deficiency is a common curable disease with proper dietary practices. There are two types of iron our body can process, heme and non-heme iron. We have plenty of foods rich in iron and including few portions in our diet can improve our blood circulation.
Why it’s Important to Eat Foods Rich in Iron Every day?
Our body feels energetic only when our cells get ample amounts of oxygen every day. Though a balanced meal can help supply energy, eat an iron-rich meal once a week or a few portions of iron-rich foods to improve your health. We can get non-heme iron from plant-based foods and heme iron from animal foods. Our body can absorb heme iron better than non-heme iron. When we include vitamin C-rich foods along with non-heme iron sources, it improves absorption.
Eating an iron-rich meal can help,
- Improve energy levels
- Better athletic performance
- Ease menstrual cycle
- Healthy pregnancy
- Support healthy hair and skin
Iron-rich foods Included in the Meal Plan:
Red Spinach: Spinach is one of the best sources of non-heme iron. You can include a variety of leafy greens such as collard greens, amaranth leaves, swiss chard leaves, raw beet greens.
Lamb Chops: It’s the best source of heme iron which gets absorbed in the body.
Potato: Potatoes are rich in non-heme iron and Vitamin C, which helps in the easier absorption of the nutrients into the body.
Pomegranate: Pomegranate is a healthy fruit with ample amounts of iron.
Curry Leaves: Curry leaf is an excellent source of non-heme iron. It is available in Asian and Indian supermarkets.
Prunes: Prunes have higher iron content among the dry fruits.
Healthy Iron-Rich Meal Plan for a Day
Though our body needs sufficient amounts of iron every day, overdoing it can cause severe organ damages. You can follow this meal plan once a week to meet the iron requirements in the body.
I have included only iron-rich foods in this meal plan. You can make additional dishes to complete a full day meal.
Breakfast: 3 Idly/ 2 dosa/2 roti with 2 tbsp of curry leaf dip or spinach and curry leaf green juice
Lunch: Steamed Rice with red spinach stir-fry/ spinach fried rice
Snack: Handful of dried Prunes and 1 glass of Pomegranate Juice
Dinner: Roti with 1 bowl of lamb and potato curry/ roasted lamb with baked potatoes.
The menu plan for iron deficiency or anemia includes,
- Curry leaves Dip
1 cup fresh curry leaves
¼ cup urad dal
8 dry chilies
Salt as required
Recipe: Dry roast everything in a pan. Cool and pulse in a blender by adding 2 tbsp of water.
- Red Spinach Stir-fry
1 cup chopped red spinach
1 tbsp mustard, cumin, and curry leaves
¼ cup grated coconut
2 green chilies chopped
2 tbsp coconut oil
Salt as needed
Recipe: Temper mustard, cumin, chilies, and curry leaves in coconut oil. Add the spinach and cook on low heat for 15 minutes. Finish with fresh coconut and salt.
- Lamb with Potato Curry
1 cup lamb chop
2 large potatoes with skin
1 cup onion tomato masala
Salt, chili powder and pepper as needed
Recipe: Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a pressure cooker. Fry the onion tomato masala, add the spiced powders, lamb and potatoes. Mix well and cook for 8 whistles. You can do this in a slow cooker or instant pot.
- Pomegranate Juice:
1 cup pomegranate pearls
½ glass of water/ coconut water
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp lemon juice
Recipe: Pulse everything in a blender. Strain and serve.
Try these healthy iron-rich meal plan to keep your blood and iron storage levels in check.
Disclaimer: The meal plans are a generic one. It can be used as a reference to recreate healthy meal plans. These are not recommended by any dietician or nutritionist and solely created by my experience and knowledge in health and wellness.