Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies, and can result in symptoms such as weakness, pallor, fatigue and low energy, numbness or tingling in the hand or feet, hair loss, irritability, or brittle nails. Simply increasing your dietary iron intake can boost your energy and bring vitality and vigor. Most people think of spinach or meat as the main iron sources, but there are SO MANY raw vegan plant sources that will keep your iron levels high. That doesn’t mean that your iron levels are adequate even if you are on a raw food diet – you need to make sure you are including the following foods in your diet:
- Green Leafy Vegetables: Broccoli, Kale, and Bok Choy are some of the best. Greens like Spinach and Swiss Chard are also high in iron, but they contain oxalates which can bind to the iron and make it more difficult for your body to absorb. Throwing a handful of chopped Kale in your salad every day and dipping broccoli florets in a yummy raw dipping sauce or raw hummus are easy ways to get these foods in your diet.
- Dried fruits: Dates, Figs, Raisins, Dried Apricots.
- Nuts/Seeds: Sesame seeds (or even better, Raw Tahini – a ground sesame seed butter), Cashews, Almonds. Tip: Pack your dried fruits, cashews, and almonds in a baggie for an iron-rich trail mix snack on the go. Use tahini blended with sea salt, garlic, zucchinis, and lemon juice to make a raw hummus dip for your greens.
- Watermelon: Who would have thought this popular sweet melon contains iron? Watermelon juice is a super blood-builder and gives your body a good dose of iron.
- Cacao of course!
More iron-boosting tips: Avoid black teas or coffee because they contain tannins, which inhibit iron absorption. Include foods rich in vitamin C because this important vitamin aids in the absorption of iron. (Kale, Broccoli, and Bok Choi interestingly contain high levels of vitamin C as well as iron).
How do you know if you are deficient? You can get a blood count test and see if you have low iron serum or low ferritin serum. Or, you can simply start incorporating these iron rich raw foods in your diet every day and notice the changes in your health!