Iron has always been a hot topic of discussion and it will always be. There is something about it that keeps people thinking or rather confused on what to eat, how to eat and what to avoid! As a result of this knowledge deficit, most over 30% of the world’s population has become deficient in this very important mineral [according to WHO-World Health Organisation].
So I thought let’s see what all foods people think are super rich in Iron, but sadly aren’t:
- Spinach: We all at some point in our lives have believed that spinach is a great source of iron. But that is simply NOT TRUE. Mr. Popeye had got it all wrong. Spinach has a compound by the name of ‘oxalates’ which binds with the little amount of iron present in it and inhibits it’s absorption in the body. Oxalic acid cannot be absorbed by the body. Also, the confusion started because a scientist by the name of von Wolff forgot to correct a decimal error, leading to people mis believing that spinach was a rich source of iron! He certainly forgot to mention the low bio availability too. Sad! But nonetheless it being a green leafy vegetable is a great source of Vitamin A helping your skin glow and vision sparkly and at the same time making your immunity strong too! Much love to Vitamin A.
2. Iron cooking pots: Many people think that cooking in an iron pot helps in transferring the iron from the vessel to the food one is making. It’s got to be a magical pot then!
Well, truth being, this was a ritual of an ancient era with no scientific backing. Moreover, cooking in such pots causes ‘Iron Toxicity’. So excess of anything is really bad so to say! Stay away from this myth, far far away!
3. Milk: As a nutritionist it feels really odd when you hear people talking to each other and saying “have milk, your anemia would go away” and I’m left gaping at them and thinking what is wrong with this world!!Milk has NO IRON. It is but an amazing source of Calcium, Protein, Vitamin A and essential fatty acids. So yes it will make you taller, stronger, and you always have some almonds walnuts and Sudoku puzzles to make you sharper! Yay!
4. Beetroot: Someone has rightly said, “Everything that glitters is not gold”. A red coloured food, won’t necessarily make blood or iron in the body. It’s said [by most people, not us] that beetroot is a good source of iron. I really cringe when I hear that!
For a second even if I agree with you that it has some iron, but it’s of no use. Now the science behind that is, it contains a substance called “oxalic acid”, which interferes with the iron absorption in the body and hence it doesn’t even get absorbed! Came as a surprise didn’t that? But having said that, it musn’t stop you from having it! It’s rich in a number of antioxidants which help you in fighting from free radicles, is rich in zinc, phosphorus and gives a wonderful amount of fiber too!
5. Apples- “An apple a day keep the doctor away”
It stands true in more respects than one. It’s rich in antioxidants, rich in cholesterol lowering fiber, has a good amount of Vitamin E and Vitamin C too. But, what it is not rich in, is Iron. We studied the process of rusting in class 5th or 6th which stated when an iron metal came in contact with air, it turned brown. They were talking about metal dearies, and not about the fruit! And it turning brown is related to something known as “enzymatic browning”.
6. Bananas: Bananas are a great pre and a post workout meal and supply you with the requisite amount of energy that is required by the body during workouts.
They help you through the muscle cramps, blood pressure, provide you good amount of potassium, magnesium, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C as well. Though bananas are not rich in iron, due to the presence of Vitamin C only help in the absorption of iron.
So many myths about so many foods, one really needs to know what is the real story. You have the right to know the foods that you have!