Enhance your iron intake by incorporating vitamin C-rich foods into your diet. These foods, like citrus fruits, bell peppers, and more can improve the absorption of plant-based iron sources, ensuring your body gets the most out of your meals.
Getting enough iron in your diet is important for your health because iron helps transport oxygen throughout your body. However, not all foods high in iron are equally absorbable. Heme iron, which comes from animals, and non-heme iron, which comes from plants, are the two forms of dietary iron. Vitamin C-rich foods, such as citrus fruits or peppers, are a perfect match for non-heme iron diets because they increase iron absorption. To maximise iron absorption, you should also avoid consuming calcium-rich foods and beverages with iron-rich meals. Making healthy eating choices, including a variety of iron-rich foods, can help your body make the most of this vital nutrient. Here is a selection of foods high in vitamin C that go well with non-heme iron.
Plant-based Iron sources
Non-heme iron is the type of iron found in plant-based foods and some animal products. Sources of non-heme iron include:
Legumes: Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are excellent sources of non-heme iron.
Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds contain non-heme iron.
Whole Grains: Foods like quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat are good sources.
Vegetables: Leafy greens like spinach and kale, as well as broccoli and Brussels sprouts, provide non-heme iron.
Fortified Foods: Certain cereals, bread, and plant-based milk alternatives are fortified with iron.
Dried Fruits: Raisins and apricots are examples of dried fruits with non-heme iron.
Tofu: Some types of tofu, especially those made with iron salts, are good sources of non-heme iron.
Here are seven vitamin C-rich foods to pair with plant-based iron.
Citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons, are excellent choices to pair with iron-rich foods. They're packed with vitamin C, which significantly enhances the absorption of non-heme iron found in plant-based sources like spinach and beans. The vitamin C in citrus fruits forms a strong pair with iron, making it more available for your body to absorb and use effectively, supporting better overall nutrition.
Strawberries not only add a burst of sweet flavour to your cereals or smoothies but also provide a significant dose of vitamin C. This vitamin C content in strawberries enhances the absorption of iron from plant-based sources, making it a smart choice for a nutritious combination that ensures better utilization of iron by your body.
Bell peppers, whether red, yellow, or green, are vibrant sources of vitamin C. These colourful veggies are versatile and can be enjoyed in salads or stir-fries. Vitamin C in bell peppers helps maximize the absorption of plant-based iron. By incorporating bell peppers into your meals, you not only enhance flavour but also promote better utilization of dietary iron for overall health.
Kiwi, the small but mighty fruit, is a vitamin C powerhouse. It's not only a delicious snack but also a great addition to fruit salads. The high vitamin C content in kiwi enhances the absorption of plant-based iron, making it a valuable choice for those looking to boost their iron intake and overall nutritional well-being.
Guava, a tropical delight, is among the richest sources of vitamin C. This fruit can be enjoyed on its own, delivering a sweet and tangy burst of flavour. Alternatively, you can incorporate guava into fruit salads for a refreshing and nutrient-rich addition. Its high vitamin C content enhances the absorption of plant-based iron, contributing to a balanced and healthy diet.
Papaya, a tropical gem, is rich in vitamin C, making it an excellent choice for pairing with iron-rich foods. This versatile fruit can be enjoyed fresh, adding a sweet and exotic flair to your diet. It also complements smoothies beautifully, enhancing their flavour and nutrient content. By combining papaya with iron-rich foods, you support improved iron absorption, contributing to your overall health.
Broccoli, a vibrant green vegetable, boasts a significant vitamin C content, enhancing its nutritional value. Beyond vitamin C, it offers a plethora of essential nutrients. This versatile veggie can be prepared in different ways, such as steaming, roasting, or as an ingredient in various dishes. Embracing broccoli in your meals not only brings out its delightful flavors but also promotes your overall well-being.