Pumping iron just got tastier. The next time you're thinking about adding more energy to your day or getting more oxygen in your body, simply add more iron to your diet, says personal trainer and holistic nutrition coach Ange Peters of Hol-Fit.com, based in London, Ont.
"Iron is an essential nutrient, meaning that we must get it through our food choices. Nearly 80 per cent of people don't get the daily iron requirement through their food choices, so it is important to be mindful when planning your meals," she says.
Peters also adds that iron deficiencies can easily be noticeable.
"Low iron levels can cause iron-deficiency-anemia which will show itself in various ways such as low energy, dizziness, pale skin and peeling nails," she tells The Huffington Post Canada.
According to Health Link British Columbia, the average male (between the ages of 19 to 49) needs about 8 mgs of iron, and the average female in the same age group needs about 18 mgs. Pregnant women, Peters adds, should be eating 27 mgs of iron daily.
"The needs are quite different for females than they are for males and this is an area that needs to be addressed through proper meal planning and/or supplements. Those most at risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia are young children, adolescents and pregnant women," she says.
Although serving most foods raw or cooked won't change the amount of iron in them, the iron content in some raw greens, like spinach and chard, can be absorbed more easily when they're sautéed.
LOOK: So which foods should you be eating? Here are Peters's top 20 picks of the highest-ranked foods (for both vegetarians and meat-eaters) with iron:
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IRON COUNT: 5.8 mg per 100 g serving
Beef liver has the lowest fat count compared to any other type of beef, according to 3FatChicks.com. It's also low in calories — a single serving has about 150 calories.
IRON COUNT: 2.9 mg per 100 g serving
Besides being a rich source of protein, lean sirloin steak contains vitamin B-12, B6, and other essentials nutrients, according to LiveStrong.
Lean Ground Beef:
IRON COUNT: 1.6 mg per 100 g serving
Lean beef and lean ground beef can help lower your cholesterol levels, according to LiveStrong.com.
IRON COUNT: 1.1 mg per 100 g serving
If you do decide to make chicken breast your source of iron, remember to de-bone it and take off the skin, says writer Rob Poulos.
IRON COUNT: 0.7 mg per 100 g serving
Known as a superfood, salmon contains Omega-3 fatty acids that can help prevent blood clots and lessen your chances of having a stroke, according to 3FatChicks.com.
IRON COUNT: 4.7 mg per 1/4 cup serving
Studies have shown that pumpkin seeds can help prevent kidney stone from forming, according to Care2.com.
80 Per Cent Dark Chocolate:
IRON COUNT: 11.9 mg per 100 g serving
Dark chocolate is not only satisfying as a dessert, it's also known to lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol, according to About.com.
IRON COUNT: 3.7 mg per 2.5 tbsp
Thyme is full of fibre, vitamin A, C and contains no cholesterol, according to nutrition-and-you.com.
IRON COUNT: 3.6 mg per 1 tbsp
Blackstrap molasses is a sweetener that's actually good for you. Besides being full of iron, this type of molasses is also full of calcium, according to Natural Living Ideas.
Sulfite-Free Dried Apricots:
IRON COUNT: 0.6 g of iron per 1/4-cup serving
Besides satisfying a sweet tooth, dried apricots contain beta carotene, fibre and other nutrients, according to LiveStrong.com.
IRON COUNT: 4.9 mg per 3/4-cup serving
Lentils include insoluble fibres, which can fill you up faster in a shorter period of time, according to 3FatChicks.com.
IRON COUNT: 1.7 mg per medium potato
They're not as bad as you think: One study found that potatoes are packed with nutrients and can help with weight loss, according to the Daily Mail.
3.4 mg per 1/2-cup serving
Spinach contains flavonoids — which are compounds found in plants that contain anti-cancer properties shown to slow down cell growth in stomach and skin cancer cells, according to Health Diaries.
IRON COUNT: 1.1 mg per 1/2-cup serving
Another superfood, quinoa has almost twice as much fibre as most grains, according to Forbes.com.
Kidney Beans (Boiled):
IRON COUNT: 3.9 mg per 3/4-cup serving
Kidney beans have been known to lower the risk of heart attacks and boost energy levels, according to WHFoods.com. And yes, kidney beans (eaten with a balanced diet) can be good for your kidneys.
2.7 mg per 100 g serving
Even though tempeh is often salty, it's actually low in sodium. It is also high in fibre and easy to digest, according to Tempeh.info.
2.4 mg per 3/4-cup serving
Some studies suggest that tofu can prevent breast cancer, according to FitDay.com. But remember, if you do replace your meat with tofu, you would have to eat more to meet the daily recommended levels of protein.
IRON COUNT: 8.7 mg per 100 g serving
"Black beans also happen to be one of the richest food sources of molybdenum — a mineral essential for iron utilization and enzyme function," according to Ange Peters, a personal trainer and holistic nutrition coach.
IRON COUNT: 2.3 mg per 2 tbsp
A staple in Middle Eastern countries, tahini is made from ground sesame seeds. The dip is also packed with calcium and vitamin B, according to 3FatChicks.com.
IRON COUNT: 0.7 mg per 100 g serving
Broccoli pretty much has an endless list of benefits, including being an excellent source of fibre to help with digestion.