Iron-rich food is vital for good health and energy but not everyone wants steak for every meal. Fortunately you can boost your iron intake with these simple, tasty snacks.
When we think of iron-rich foods, red meat and leafy green vegetables spring to mind but what if you could boost your intake of the energising nutrient with a few simple snacks?
Well, you can. And it’s great news for those of us who feel pretty shattered most of the time – this being a key symptom of an iron-deficient diet.
We need the nutrient to help produce red blood cells, which carry oxygen around our bodies, but most of us don’t eat the recommended amount of iron in our food.
Throw a spicy snack into the mix
Two handfuls of Bombay mix are a brilliant way to give your iron intake a quick boost. It’s the lentils, cashews and split peas that make it so good for us but a 50g portion comes in at around 250 calories, so don’t go crazy.
Red wine lovers rejoice
Although it’s bad news for white wine drinkers, red and rosé lovers rejoice. Every 250ml glass contains 2mg iron, which is a good contribution to your daily intake but bear in mind that it’s also 3.5 units of your weekly recommended allowance – 14 for women and 21 for men.
According to EU guidelines, we're meant to have 14mg of iron a day from the age of 11. But on average, men get only 11.7mg and women just 9.6 mg.
Iron deficiency symptoms
A lack of iron doesn’t just leave us lethargic, it can lead to symptoms including pale skin, hair loss, shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat, as well as forgetfulness and lack of concentration.
Sioned Quirke of the British Dietetic Association says: “It's hard to get enough iron with a balanced diet, let alone when women are drastically cutting calories or following faddy diets such as juice fasts or low-carb regimens.”
Generally speaking, women also tend to eat less meat, which is a good source of iron. And menstruation can lead to a dip in iron levels.
Daily sources of the nutrient in our food are fortified breakfast cereals, bread, meat and vegetables but we should be tucking into vitamin C-rich foods at the same time as they can help absorption. Citrus fruits are fabulous sources of vitamin C.
But avoid drinking tea at mealtimes because the tannins it contains can hinder iron absorption.
A simple solution to making sure you’re getting enough iron, combine between four and six of the following snacks every day – and keep that tiredness at bay!
Simple iron-rich snack combinations
Tuna mayonnaise sandwich with wholemeal bread – 2.5mg
30g bowl of Kellogg’s Special K with any milk – 3.5mg
Leg of lamb – 2.7mg per 150g
2 poached eggs – 2.3mg
2 small handfuls of roasted cashew nuts – 2.9mg
250ml glass of red or rosé wine – 2.3mg
2 small handfuls Bombay mix – 1.9mg
Liquorice allsorts (5 sweets) – 2.3mg
100g hummus – 1.9mg
Half a tin of baked beans – 2.9mg
100g tofu – 3.5mg
Small can of sardines – 2.1mg
80g portion of watercress – 1.8mg
Are you getting enough iron? Have you tried to increase your intake and have you felt a difference in your wellbeing? Let us know in the Comments below.