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Iron deficiency anemia is a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells, which are responsible to carry an adequate level of oxygen to the body’s tissues. The most common is iron deficiency anemia. The symptoms are usually fatigue, weakness, headaches, dizziness… If you think you are developing such symptoms, first see a doctor for a proper evaluation and assess what treatment is best for you. In this post, we are going to tell you which are the foods that help prevent or improve it. And as Jamón/ham experts, we explain the role of this extraordinary food, Jamón, as an ally against anemia.
According to the WHO, 24.8% of the world’s population suffers from anemia. Women, infants and children have an increased risk of iron deficiency anemia. Although there are different types of causes depending on the age group, the most common is nutrition-related anemia, which develops as a result of a decrease in vitamin B12, vitamin C, folic acid or iron.
As we have stated, the most common is anemia due to iron deficiency levels. An imbalance of nutrients in our food intake is usually the main cause. When iron levels are low in the body, the symptoms are usually weakness, fatigue, pale skin, dizziness or headache.
Why do have women a higher risk of suffering this condition? Because women lose blood during menstruation, The menstrual flow usually lasts about 5 days. It causes a total blood loss of 1, 2 to 2,7 Fl and normally occurs every 21 to 35 days, although it may vary from person to person. If any alteration of the menstrual cycle occurs, consult your gynecologist.
Eating a varied and balanced diet is the key to preventing anemia. This diet should regularly include foods rich in iron of animal origin such as meat and also foods of vegetable origin, such as legumes. It should be taken into account that in the case of foods of vegetable origin, to favor the absorption of iron, they should be mixed with foods rich in vitamin C, such as broccoli, peppers, etc.
The bioavailability of nutrients refers to the amount of nutrient that has an active effect within our bodies. In the case of animal source foods, the bioavailability of iron is higher than in plant source foods. This means that the iron content of animal products such as meat or fish is more bioavailable than that of plant foods. The iron we absorb from foods of animal origin is usually around 25% versus the 10% approx. of vegetable origin.
In the case of foods of vegetable origin the bioavailability is lower, that is to say, the capacity of our organism to absorb iron will be lower and even less efficient. In addition, these foods should be consumed together with absorption activators, such as vitamin C rich foods : citrus fruits, red bell pepper, tomato, potato, etc.
Jamón/Ham as an ally against anemia is an animal product rich in iron. Iron found in animal products is absorbed much more efficiently, as long as the person’s health is good, that is, he/she does not suffer from any type of pathology that interferes with the absorption of iron. At the same time, we can also highlight other foods of animal origin such as red meat or oily fish, such as sardines or tuna, or shellfish such as clams or mussels.
We must insist that the consumption of iron-rich foods accompanied by a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle, can always help you improve your health against anemia. Yet, if it occurs, we recommend that you get first well diagnosed by your doctor, who will inform you about the best treatment for you and if you need food supplements to recover optimal iron levels.
Anemia can be prevented through food. In order to achieve this, include in your regular diet all kinds of nutrients and, especially, those rich in HAEM iron (of animal origin) and NON-HAEM iron (of vegetable origin), and do not forget to add foods rich in vitamin C to help your body to capture the non-haem iron to be found in plant-based foods vegetables which are less bioavailable.
As for foods that are not recommended in case of anemia, they are those that inhibit the absorption of iron such as tannins in coffee or tea, or foods rich in phytates and oxalates such as green leafy vegetables, cereals or legumes. And why these? Because they all contain antinutrients – natural compounds that interfere with the absorption of nutrients. To eliminate them it is very important to treat food properly, only then you can contribute to the improvement of the absorption of the rest of the nutrients contained in the food. This explains the need to apply soaking and long cooking to legumes or soaking or roasting to nuts, for example.
All meats contain generous amounts of iron and, in addition, this is absorbed more easily and in greater quantity (between 10% and 25%) by our organism.
Iron-rich foods are the best ally we can have against anemia, and Jamón/ham is one of them. Specifically, 100 grams of acorn-fed Iberian hamHam is one of the star products of the Spanish gastronomy, a... (Jamón de Bellota Premium of Iberian purebred) provide 20% of the iron that a middle-aged woman should consume daily (between 0,0002 oz and 0,0003 per 3,5 oz of Jamón). It is also a great source of other nutrients such as proteins and healthy fats, which are very beneficial for strengthening the immune system and improving cardiovascular health.
Nuts such as almonds, cashews or pistachios are also iron-rich foods.
This green leafy vegetable is a great source of iron. Even so, being of plant origin it should be combined with vitamin C rich foods to enable absorption: tomato, bell pepper, potato etc.
Seafood such as salmon, oysters, mussels, clams, tuna, or sardines have very high levels of iron and also provide omega 3, B vitamins and protein. They are a very good option to enrich our regular diet.
Legumes are world-renowned for their high iron content, especially foods such as lentils. However, it should also be taken into account that their iron intake is not as directly absorbed as that of animal products and should also be combined with Vitamin C rich foods.
In addition, legumes may contain anti-nutrients that prevent the absorption of nutrients, so it is important to soak or boil them to ingest them and allow us the proper absorption of nutrients.
In short, there are combinations of foods that can be beneficial to improve, prevent or combat anemia. Adding iron-rich animal products such as Jamón/ham to your diet is always a good option. Likewise, combining vitamin C rich foods, such as tomatoes or citrus fruits with iron-rich foods of vegetable origin such as legumes or green leafy vegetables, can also favor iron absorption.
Thus, now that you know which are the most suitable foods, prepare your weekly menu including dishes such as legumes with tomato and bell pepper and add a touch of Iberian ham.
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