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Update on Iron

Update on Iron

With vegetarian and vegan choices becoming more popular, let’s have an update on the importance of iron in our diet.

Iron is a mineral found in some foods and is crucial to good health and to our mental and physical well-being. It helps to carry oxygen to the brain and muscles.

There are two types of iron in food: Haem iron and non haem iron.

The absorption of these two kinds of iron is quite different.

HAEM IRON – found in: Offal, red meats, chicken and fish.

  • Is well absorbed
  • Absorption is affected by the body’s iron stores rather than components in food
  • Haem iron is found only in animal foods. Generally the darker the red of the meat, the higher the haem iron content

NON HAEM IRON – found in tofu, eggs, some vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, fruits and whole grain cereals

  • Is not well absorbed
  • Absorption is affected by the body’s iron stores and components in food eaten at the same time. These components are:

–  The MPF factor (A factor in Meat, Fish and Poultry) which promotes absorption of iron
–  Vitamin C promotes the absorption of non haem iron.
–  Milk, cheese and eggs inhibit iron absorption
–  Phytates (found in the outer layers of cereal grains, legumes and seeds, eg wholegrain breads and cereals) inhibit iron absorption
–  Tannins in tea and coffee limit absorption

  • Non haem iron is found in both animal and plant food

Haem foods (well absorbed iron – approx. 25% absorption) Cooked lean, without added fat.
This table shows the amount of iron (in mg) in 100g of these foods:

  • Lamb kidneys                                          11.4mg
  • Lambs fry liver                                       10mg
  • Mussels, boiled                                       7.7
  • Beef blade steak                                     4.3
  • Beef topside lean                                   3.6
  • Beef rump steak lean                           3.4
  • Lamb leg steak lean                              3.4
  • Lamb mid loin chop lean                    3.0
  • Sardines canned                                     2.9
  • Pork, (lean leg, steak, chops)            2.7
  • Beef sausages                                          2.4
  • Tuna canned in brine                           2.3
  • Mince pie 1                                                2.2
  • Chicken lean (breast/drumstick)    1.9
  • Snapper                                                     0.7
  • Hoki                                                            0.2

Non haem foods (poorly absorbed – approx. 5% absorption)

  • Tofu 100g                                                    5.4
  • Beetroot canned 2 slices                       1.3
  • Porridge 1 cup                                           1.3
  • Prunes 5                                                      1.2
  • Green peas (frozen) cooked ½ cup  1.2
  • Baked beans ½ cup                                1.2
  • Egg 1 boiled                                               1.1
  • Taro 1 cup                                                  1.0
  • Red wine 1 glass (104 ml)                    0.9
  • Sesame seeds 1 tablespoon                0.7
  • Kumara 1                                                    0.6
  • Weetbix 1                                                   0.6
  • Wholemeal bread 1 slice                      0.5
  • Peanut butter 1 tablespoon                0.5
  • Silverbeet cooked ¼ cup                     0.4
  • Parsley 1 tablespoon                              0.3
  • Baked potato 1                                         0.3
  • Orange 1                                                     0.3
  • Spinach cooked ¼ cup                         0.3
  • Raisins snack box                                  0.3

 

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