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Green Leafy Vegetables For Iron Deficiency

Green leafy vegetables are now almost as rare on many people’s plates as mammoth meat. Milk, meat, and grain products determine our menu. However, green leafy vegetables are disappearing more and more from the scene. When you hear the word leafy greens, all you can think of is spinach. We name more than 50 green leafy vegetables – and explain why hardly any food is as suitable for a healthy supply of the trace element iron as green leafy vegetables.

Green leafy vegetables: more green on the plate

The color green is associated with liveliness, vitality, and renewal. And it is precisely these properties that the green leafy vegetables convey to all those who consume them. As a result, the greens in your food should be little more than that tiny sprig of parsley that used to be just for decoration and ended up in the trash can instead of your stomach. Yes, in reality, the color green should dominate your plate. Because green food offers a lot that is missing in conventional food.

Green leafy vegetables protect, heal and revitalize

For example, green leafy vegetables contain bitter or pungent substances. Some green leafy vegetables such as B. celery, orache, or spinach even taste a bit salty without salt being added to them. Leafy green vegetables provide chlorophyll and with it all the benefits associated with the green plant pigment. Other bioactive substances in green leafy vegetables can prevent tumor formation, eliminate bacteria, stop viruses, inactivate free radicals, stimulate the immune system, and thin the blood.

Green leafy vegetables provide iron

Leafy green vegetables are also rich in iron. Even if it is being announced everywhere today that the iron content of spinach is based on a mistake and that spinach is not as rich in iron as was once thought. More than 100 years ago, someone is said to have circulated that spinach contains 35 milligrams of iron per hundred grams. Spinach actually does not contain that much iron. And that’s just as well. Because iron is an important trace element that is needed for important bodily functions, but it is by no means desirable in excess.

Leafy green vegetables contain more iron than meat

In any case, spinach contains between 3.5 and 4.1 milligrams of iron per 100 grams. Meat, on the other hand, which is known to be the greatest source of iron of our time, provides between 1 and 2.5 milligrams per 100 grams. Offal such as the liver, kidneys, heart, and Brain contains more iron, but these days they are consumed only rarely and therefore no longer contribute excessively to the iron supply. Dairy products are extremely low in iron and have no more than 0.1 to 0.3 milligrams of iron per 100 grams. Nevertheless, it is often claimed that vegetarians do not suffer from iron deficiency precisely because of their consumption of dairy products – which of course has no basis whatsoever. Vegetarians and vegans are therefore well supplied with iron because they eat green leafy vegetables, vegetables, nuts, and dried fruit.

Is iron better digestible from meat?

At this point, the “meat-supplies-iron faction” usually shouts very loudly that plants may contain more iron than meat, but that the iron from plant food cannot be utilized nearly as well by the human organism as the iron from animal food products. Nobody denies that.

On the contrary: the suspicion is more than obvious that the easier digestibility of meat iron is more of a disadvantage and can contribute to the development of diseases.

Vitamin C promotes iron absorption

In addition to iron, plant foods sometimes also contain substances that can impede iron absorption, but of course, do not completely prevent it. On the other hand, we know that vitamin C can promote iron absorption particularly well. Vitamin C is almost non-existent in meat but very plentiful in leafy green vegetables. So you don’t have to drink a glass of orange juice with the vegetables – as is so often recommended – to promote iron absorption. Vitamin C is already naturally contained in vegetables.

In the case of iron deficiency, the ability to absorb iron increases

In addition, the body’s ability to absorb varies according to need. This means that if the body needs more iron, it can also make better use of the iron present in food – even if the food contained little iron.

Less iron is more

In reality, however, we don’t even need to look for a justification for the possibly poorer utilization of plant iron in the body. Rather, it is the case that people who prefer to meet their iron requirements from plant-based foods are spared all the disadvantages that an excessive iron supply could entail, as can be the case with lavish meat consumption. The question is whether it is at all desirable to be able to enjoy “easily absorbed” iron. Perhaps this is not an iron intake that is necessary for our health, but rather actually undesirable storage of iron Iron?

Iron creates free radicals

Iron can have unpleasant disadvantages. Just as iron can rust outside the body because it reacts with oxygen, iron also promotes oxidation inside the body and leads to the formation of free radicals there, which are known to cause cell damage of all kinds, so that iron – present in excess – It can contribute to serious diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, but also to an accelerated aging process (particularly age spots and eye diseases such as cataracts).

Iron also weakens the immune system and increases susceptibility to infectious diseases. It was observed that cells that contained a particularly large amount of iron harbored more pathogens than cells with less iron. Salmonella, for example, can penetrate much better into small intestine cells with high iron content, so that intestinal infections can be favored by a plentiful supply of iron. This increased susceptibility to infectious diseases due to high iron content in the blood could be one of the reasons why iron levels in pregnant women regularly drop. The organism does everything it can to protect the woman and thus the unborn child from infections.

Menstruation protects against excess iron

An unfavorable accumulation of iron in the tissue can be observed particularly in men. Women, on the other hand, get rid of the excess iron during menstrual bleeding, but experience has shown that after menopause they can find themselves in an iron excess situation similar to that of men.

Cover iron requirements with green leafy vegetables

Consequently, the human iron requirement can be wonderfully covered with plant foods. Plant-based food not only provides the correct and healthy amounts of iron but also protects against harmful excess iron. In this context, a warning should be given in particular against foods that have been fortified with additional iron by the food industry, e.g. B. some breakfast cereals (muesli, cornflakes, crunchy, etc.).

Severe iron deficiency anemia cured with a plant-based diet

Even a pronounced iron deficiency anemia with clear symptoms such as weakness and palpitations could already be remedied with a purely plant-based diet based on green leafy vegetables. We are aware of a case of severe iron deficiency anemia who recovered from plant-based food alone.

The cause of the anemia was not sought because the patient – contrary to his doctor’s urgent recommendation – refused to go to a hospital, even though he was so weak that he could barely walk three steps. The doctor then abdicated all responsibility and said goodbye to the patient with the “encouraging” prognosis that he still had three days to live. Because – according to his reasoning – nothing could be done with nutrition alone.

From that moment on, the patient lived only on green grass juices as well as juices from herbs and vegetables rich in iron. He also ate dried fruit, nuts, and pumpkin seeds. After six weeks he was healthy again and went on his first bike ride. Since hardly any patient dares to resist the doctor’s recommendation with such a prognosis, reports of this kind naturally remain exceptional phenomena.

Fix iron deficiency with green leafy vegetables

If there is an iron deficiency (and no pathological processes such as internal bleeding are responsible for it), then this can best be remedied with two measures. First, foods that definitely inhibit iron absorption should be avoided, such as B. coffee, black tea, cocoa, and dairy products. Secondly, the diet should consist of high-quality, natural plant-based food, as it is well known that this not only contains iron, but also an enormous range of the most diverse vital substances that can do much more than “just” correct iron deficiency.

10 reasons for green leafy vegetables

The 10 most important effects of green leafy vegetables are – summarized – in the following:

  • Improving immune function
  • tumor prevention
  • improvement of blood circulation
  • Purification of the blood or stimulation of blood formation
  • Supply of folic acid, iron, and magnesium
  • relief from depression
  • Structure of the intestinal flora
  • Improved functioning of the liver, kidneys, and gallbladder
  • Reduction of oxidative stress
  • Relief or prevention of inflammation

How many green leafy vegetables do you know?

Do you always think of spinach when you hear the word “leaf vegetables”? You are not alone there. Most people find it very difficult to name more than two or three types of green leafy vegetables – which is evidence that green leafy vegetables have an extremely low status in today’s diet – at least in the western industrialized world. Below we have listed more than 50 different leafy vegetables that can make our daily meals extremely varied, tasty, and rich in vital substances:

More than 50 green leafy vegetables:

  • Green culture leafy vegetables
  • spinach
  • chard
  • Pak Choy (also called mustard cabbage)
  • Lamb’s lettuce
  • lettuce and iceberg lettuce
  • oak leaf lettuce
  • Batavia lettuce
  • Romaine Lettuce (aka Romaine Lettuce)
  • Endive and frisee salad
  • radicchio and chicory
  • Leaves of celery or celery
  • sugarloaf
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Kale
  • Leaves of broccoli and kohlrabi
  • leaves of carrot
  • Beetroot leaves
  • Cress (garden, fountain, nasturtium)
  • arugula
  • Postelein
  • Sprouts as soon as they form green leaves

Garden herbs

  • Parsely
  • dill
  • oregano and marjoram
  • basil
  • coriander herb
  • burnet (small burnet)
  • lemon balm

Green wild leafy vegetables

  • dandelion
  • chicory
  • nettle
  • moringa
  • goutweed
  • goat’s beard
  • Leaves of the daisy
  • purslane
  • garden orchard
  • Chickweed
  • White Goosefoot
  • Good Henry
  • sorrel
  • clover
  • Lesser Celandine
  • deadnettle
  • plantain leaves
  • garlic mustard
  • wild garlic
  • french herb
  • Wild pansy
  • mallow leaves
  • Common knotweed (Polygonum aubertii, is often planted as a climbing ornamental
  • plant on pergolas, tastes delicious, a bit like sorrel)
  • bittercress
  • mustard leaves
  • Wild Wine

Prepare green leafy vegetables

Leafy greens can be used in a variety of healthy recipes: raw in a salad, pureed with oil for pesto, in a soup, as a vegetable (either blanched, steamed, or sautéed in oil), or blended into a green smoothie.

If you want to steam or fry your leafy greens, then remember that a cooking time of less than a minute is sufficient – beyond that, the nutrient and vital substance value of the vegetables would be significantly reduced.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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