Best sources of iron

Boost your iron levels with food expert Janella Purcell's top tips

Q. I have been feeling so tired lately and a blood test revealed that I am iron deficient. What do you recommend I do eg. supplements/diet. The iron tablets subscribed by my GP seem to be making me constipated?

A. There are some liquid supplements available that won’t cause constipation. Ask in your health food store for a ‘practitioner- only’ liquid supplement, and mention that the one you’ve been on is not right for you, and why. The right supplement will be the fastest way to get your iron levels up, but once they are there, keep them there by eating food high in useable iron.

One of the best sources of iron, without getting the saturated fats from red meat, is amaranth. This is an ancient grain prized for its medicinal value. It’s available as a grain, puffs, flakes and flour. Probably the easiest way to include it is as a flake in porridge, or add the puffs to your smoothie or cereals. You can cook and serve the grain as you would quinoa or rice, that is include it as your complex carbohydrate with your stir fry etc. You’ll find these amaranth products in your health food store or in the health food aisle of your supermarket.

See if you can get a product called ‘mochi’ from your health food store or Asian supermarket. This is pounded brown rice made into hard squares that you bake. Mochi is recommended to women after child birth to increase iron levels. You simply rub it with oil and pop it on an oven tray to bake for about 20 minutes at 180 degrees. It puffs up and becomes crunchy on the outside and gorgeously gooey on the inside. Traditionally, the squares are cut in half, wrapped in a piece of nori – also a good source of iron – and dipped in tamari or shoyu.

Also, snacking on the occasional piece of organic or sulphur-free apricot will boost your levels as will eating organic pumpkin, kale and other green leafy veggies, and including wheatgrass in your smoothies.

Be sure to check that there isn’t a deeper reason why your iron levels are low. It’s always a good idea to get your blood tested at least every second year. Check your thyroid, cholesterol, liver function - the works.

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