Last week I wrote about food cures to tackle iron-deficiency anaemia and talked about the many misconceptions about foods sources of iron. One such error is to believe that fruits are good sources of iron. The only good sources of iron among the fruits are dates, raisins and apricots. In order to enhance the iron content of the diet, tamarind pulp can be used as a souring agent. Condiments like coriander and cumin enhance the flavour as well as the iron profile of the meal.
To enhance the iron absorption from foods, combine the iron-rich food with another food that contains Vitamin C. For instance, it would be particularly good to squeeze some lemon juice on the iron-rich leafy vegetables. You could also add some chopped tomatoes to a dal preparation. Another smart practice would be to add amla to mint or coriander chutneys. The use of iron utensils for cooking is another practice that offers an advantage over the other metals used in pots and pans. Substitution of table sugar with jaggery is a smart way to sweeten foods and get your dose of iron.
Besides iron, folic acid, Vitamin B12 and proteins are the other nutrients which when not adequately available in the diet can lead to anaemia. I will talk more specifically about how we can address folic acid deficiency through diet. It is easy to recount the sources of folic acid by remembering the etymology of the term—folia is short for foliage. All dark green leafy vegetables — fenugreek, mustard, amaranth, colocasia leaves — are its good sources. Remember to use the green leaves of radish and onion stalks in food preparations. These leaves, along with other foods like ripe papaya, mango, beetroot, tomato, broccoli, capsicum, drumstick, as well as lentils and peas, are good sources of folic acid.
The freshness of fruits and vegetables ensures a greater level of folic acid in the food. Therefore, it’s a good idea to eat some fruits and veggies in their raw and uncooked form.
Commonly prescribed medication such as aspirin and antacids can interfere with the absorption and utilization of folic acid. Therefore, it is no surprise to find people on long-term antacid preparations with folic acid deficiency.