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Iron deficiency: Add these nutrient-dense plant-based choices to your diet to beat anaemia - money control

Fatigue and weakness pulling you down? Can't stay mentally alert? You could be anemic due to iron deficiency! The good news is that you can get your fill of this crucial vitamin from a variety of vegetarian foods that are loaded with it.

Iron-deficiency is a common cause of anaemia, and one of its biggest red flags is feeling tired constantly for no apparent reason. However, being anaemic can also lead to shortness of breath, frequent headaches, dizziness, and a rapid or irregular heartbeat. Alongside, paleness, especially noticeable in the skin and inside the lower eyelids, can also be attributed to iron deficiency anaemia.

Iron's role in anemia

Anemia occurs when there are fewer red blood cells or lower haemoglobin levels in the blood, which makes it harder for the body to carry enough oxygen. Says Anju Mohan, Senior Dietitian, Department of Clinical Nutrition, Amrita Hospital, Kochi, "Insufficient intake of iron, vitamin B12, or folate through your diet can contribute to the development of anaemia. Addressing this type of anemia requires including nutrient-rich foods that contain sufficient amounts of essential elements into your diet."

Including iron-rich food in your diet is the easiest recourse to beating anemia, says Mohan. "Have spinach in lunch for a nutrient-packed meal, with cucumber and mint raita for gut health, topped with roasted chickpeas as a satisfying snack. In the evening, try dates for their natural sweetness, and end the day with protein-rich lentil dal for dinner," suggests Mohan.

Get your fill of iron with Vitamin C:  She also recommends adding enough green vegetables to your diet. "Nutrient-rich greens like fenugreek leaves or spinach are excellent sources of iron. Pairing them with vitamin C-rich options like tomatoes or bell peppers enhances iron absorption," Mohan says.

Take help from plants: Jaipur-based clinical nutritionist Anjali Phatak suggests adopting a plant-based diet to combat iron deficiency. "Focusing on plant-derived sources like beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds is key. Combining these iron sources with vitamin C-rich foods further enhances absorption, offering a proactive solution," Phatak says.

Go for legumes: Lentils aren't just high in iron, they are rich in protein and fibre as well. Incorporating them into meals boosts iron intake and overall nutrition.

Try the versatile tofu and quinoa: Says Phatak, "Tofu and quinoa, excellent sources of plant-based iron, are versatile additions to dishes. The flexibility of these two foods allows experimentation with various recipes while increasing iron intake."

Snack smart with nuts and seeds: Almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds offer convenient and nutrient-rich snacking options. Their high iron content supports iron levels and nutritional value.

Be surprised by dark chocolates: Don't be taken aback when experts mention that dark chocolate adds to your iron intake. However, ensure you choose high-quality dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70 percent to truly enjoy this unexpected advantage.

Make the most of millet's nutritional prowess: Derived from small-seeded grasses, millets are rich in iron, contributing to dietary intake and supporting anemia management, shares Phatak. "With carbs, fibre, and nutrients, millets are versatile in porridge, desserts, and baked goods.


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