Kale is one of the richest vegetables in iron! It can help us meet our daily needs of iron!
Health benefits of iron
Iron is important for good health. First, iron is a key component of hemoglobin; a protein of red blood cells that transfers oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.
Also, iron is vital for muscle metabolism, healthy connective tissue, energy metabolism, cellular functioning, physical growth, neurological development, and the synthesis of some hormones, amino acids, and collagen.[1,2]
Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, though! It may lead to serious side effects, such as gastrointestinal disturbances, impaired cognition, weakened immune function, fatigue, and low body temperature. Moreover, iron deficiency during pregnancy may increase the risk of premature delivery, and miscarriage.
What’s the recommended daily intake?
The recommended daily intake of iron is 18 mg for women of reproductive age, and 27 mg for pregnant women.
Adult men and women older than 51 years require only 8 mg of iron a day.
As women require high dosages of iron, they may have a hard time to meet their daily needs from food alone. They may benefit from taking a dietary supplement. You’ll find a wide variety of iron supplements on iHerb.
How much iron is in kale?
Kale is a great dietary source of iron. It contains 1.6 mg of iron per 100g. This dose is almost 9% of the recommended daily intake!
Furthermore, a small 1-cup serving of kale provides 0.3 mg of iron.
Other common vegetables, such as broccoli, or beets, have a much lower iron content. Only spinach is pretty high in iron.
Does cooking affect the iron content of kale?
The cooking method doesn’t significantly affect the iron content of kale. Iron and other minerals aren’t destroyed during cooking. Heat doesn’t affect them. The loss is less than 10%.
Steaming is one of the best cooking methods for preserving nutrients, though. Fewer nutrients leach into the water.
In addition, you could avoid peeling or cutting into pieces vegetables before cooking in order to preserve most vitamins and other nutrients.
Also, you could use iron pots or iron pans to cook foods high in iron. Iron cookware can increase the iron content and iron bioavailability of food.[6,7,8]
You can find a wide variety of iron pots and other cookware on Amazon.
Is iron in kale bioavailable?
We absorb only a small percentage of iron of kale, though. Actually, iron of all plant-based foods has a low bioavailability. We absorb only 5-12% of iron from plants.
On the other hand, we absorb 14-18% of iron from animal-based foods.
But, kale helps absorb more iron because it’s high in vitamin C. Vitamin C enhances iron absorption! Try to eat foods high in iron with foods high in vitamin C.
Animal-based foods, like meat, poultry, and seafood, enhance iron absorption as well.
In contrast, avoid consuming whole-grains and beans with other foods high in iron. Phytates and polyphenols in these foods may inhibit iron absorption.
Too much calcium might reduce the bioavailability of iron as well.
Other foods high in iron
Common foods high in iron are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, whole grains, legumes, as well as certain fruits and vegetables.
For instance, cabbage, potatoes, chocolate, and beans are among the richest common plant-based foods in iron!
Certain fruit juices, such as prune and raspberry juices, are excellent dietary sources of iron as well. Their regular consumption could help us meet our daily needs.
Why should I eat kale regularly?
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable with great health benefits. It’s pretty rich in antioxidant compounds, like vitamin C, polyphenols, carotenoids, and glucosinolates.
Also, it’s pretty rich in vitamin K, fiber, and calcium. Furthermore, it contains decent amounts of protein.
Moreover, kale may reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, as well as other chronic or degenerative diseases. Also, kale may lower cholesterol and help lose weight.[9,10,11]
Last, but not least, kale has powerful anti-cancer properties.