Un-Beef Your Diet
with Non-Meat Iron

Feeling headachy, weak, and sluggish may be clues that you need more iron in your diet. Simply put, your body relies on iron to make healthy blood cells, and without it, you can develop iron-deficiency anemia, a condition that comes along with those undesirable feelings. You're not alone if this sounds like you: iron-deficiency anemia is quite common, and affects mostly women, young children, and older people.
It's a widespread misconception that you have to load up on red meat in order to boost your iron intake. But the good news is, while it's true that red meat is one of the richest sources of iron in the diet, it's not the only way to get this nutrient. There are plenty of great non-meat iron sources, so vegetarians can find excellent blood-boosting foods among the mountain of choices, too.

Iron-Rich Non-Beef Sources
  • Seafood favorites like tuna, salmon, and shellfish – clams, mussels, and oysters are especially good sources
  • Cooked lentils and beans
  • Cooked broccoli, asparagus, and leafy greens
  • Dried fruit (such as prunes, apricots, and raisins)
  • Eggs (especially the yolks)
  • Nuts and seeds (pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, and almonds, in particular)
  • Iron-fortified wholegrain cereals and pastas 

Non-Meat Iron Power Pairs: Better Together
After you've settled on some foods to try that can add more non-meat iron to your diet, take it one step further by creating power pairs. Food sources of non-heme iron (foods with iron that are plant-based) aren't as readily absorbed into the blood as heme iron (foods with iron that are animal-based). You can improve the absorption of non-heme iron foods by pairing them with Vitamin C- rich picks like citrus, strawberries, and tomatoes during your meal. Even better, combining heme iron with non-heme iron foods can help improve the absorption of the non-heme iron up to three times.

How To Make a Guilt-Free Chocolate Dessert

A dietitian endorsing chocolate? You bet! When you control portions and pair with healthy foods like fruit and low fat milk, you can have your dessert and eat it, too. Enjoy this 1-2-3 Chocolate Sampler that's family friendly and portioned just right.

  1. Choco Shooter - Pour low-fat chocolate milk into shot glasses. Top with a squirt of whipped cream.
  2. Cocoa Custard - Homemade pudding takes just 10 more minutes than instant and it's divine! Check out speedy recipe below*.
  3. Dark Dipped Fruit - Microwave chocolate chips on high for 1 minute. Stir until melted. Dip in strawberries, dried apricots, banana slices or pineapple chunks. Cool and serve a few pieces per sampler.

             *Microwave Chocolate Pudding

Adapted from American Dietetic Association Cooking Healthy Across America by American Dietetic Association and Food and Culinary Professionals, a Dietetic Practice Group of ADA. © 2005, John Wiley & Sons.

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 cups fat-free milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix cornstarch, sugar and chocolate chips in glass bowl; stir in milk. Cook, uncovered, in microwave on high, around 6 -7 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Pour into mini-ramekins to set.

Useful links

American Dietitic Association www.eatright.org/
My Pyramid www.mypyramid.gov/