Health and Wellness: Iron in our diet

Ann Cochran - Dallas County Health Department
Special to Dallas County News and Perry Chief

Iron is an essential mineral needed for circulating oxygen-rich blood throughout our bodies. Persons lacking sufficient iron often experience fatigue. Ask your doctor for specifics on how much dietary iron is needed in your life stage for optimal health.

We are bombarded with nutrition advice on what to eat or not eat. Barriers to healthy eating for many of us are time and money. Supplements (tablets, powders, pre-mixed shakes) can appeal as an easy fix, especially as the price of groceries continues to rise. However, food is the best source of iron.

Foods that are high in iron include spinach. If you’re stopping for a sub sandwich at lunch, ask for spinach – no extra charge, and you don’t have to worry about buying a bag of spinach that quickly spoils in your refrigerator.

These are foods rich in iron: lean red meat, poultry and fish; legumes (peanuts, black beans, chickpeas); green vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes; cabbage and Brussel sprouts; tofu. Last of all, good news for chocolate lovers – dark chocolate and cocoa powder contain iron. Choose chocolate with at least 70% cocoa for the most nutrient content.

Still confused about iron? Talk to your doctor and/or call Iowa State Extension at 515-993-4281.