Quinoa is a great plant-based source of iron. In fact, quinoa is among the richest cereals in iron. A cup provides 15% of the DV. Despite its low iron absorption rates, quinoa has potent antianemic effects!
How much iron is in quinoa?
Quinoa is a pseudocereal with a great nutritional value. It’s packed with minerals and antioxidant compounds. Quinoa is a great dietary source of iron!
Uncooked quinoa has 4.57 mg of iron per 100g. A cup has 7.77 mg.
Cooked quinoa has 1.49 mg of iron per 100g. A cup provides 2.76 mg of iron. This amount is 15% of the Daily Value (DV).
Does quinoa have more iron than rice & other cereals?
Actually, quinoa has a similar iron content to other popular grains, like wheat and oats.
Barley and rye have a much lower iron content than quinoa, though. Moreover, quinoa has almost 3 times more iron than rice!
The richest cereals (or pseudocereals) in iron are teff, amaranth, oats, quinoa, and wheat! Chia seeds are particularly high in iron as well.
Furthermore, quinoa is an excellent dietary source of fiber. Fiber has many health benefits, and it’s good for weight loss, as it promotes satiety. However, quinoa has slightly more calories than wheat, barley, rye, and rice!
Most noteworthy, quinoa is one of the few plant-based foods containing complete protein!
Do we absorb the iron of quinoa?
As a rule of thumb, we absorb only small percentages of iron from plant-based foods. Plants contain compounds, like phytates, which inhibit iron absorption.
Hence, vegans, vegetarians, or people who follow a plant-based diet should consume 1.8 times more iron than people who follow mixed diets. The bioavailability of iron from mixed diets containing both animal-based and plant-based foods is up to 18%. On the contrary, the bioavailability of iron from vegetarian diets is between 5% and 12%.
Quinoa has a very low bioavailability of iron. It’s particularly high in phytates and saponins. Although these compounds have many health benefits, they’re known as anti-nutrients. They inhibit the absorption of iron as well as other minerals.
Almost all common grains have pretty low iron absorption rates of less than 1%. Quinoa has the lowest iron absorption rate among other common cereals, though. It’s estimated that we absorb only 0.23% of the iron of quinoa.
How to increase the absorption rate of iron of quinoa?
Above all, soaking and germination of quinoa can skyrocket its iron absorption rates. Iron solubility increases up to 4 times after soaking and germination of quinoa. The germination process eliminates the phytate and saponin content of quinoa. Rinse them regularly for better results.
In addition, vitamin C significantly increases the absorption of iron. Vitamin C can increase nonheme iron absorption up to 270%. Therefore, we should eat foods high in vitamin C with foods high in iron. Kale and spinach are high in both vitamin C and iron!
Moreover, honey can significantly increase the abortion of iron. A tbsp of honey a day may increase iron levels by 20%. Meat, poultry, and seafood increase the absorption of nonheme iron as well.
You could benefit from the regular consumption of quinoa, as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Quinoa has a potent antianemic effect.
What foods inhibit the absorption of iron of quinoa?
Avoid consuming foods high in calcium with iron-rich foods, such as quinoa. High amounts of calcium may interfere with the absorption of iron. Thus, better avoid consuming too much milk and dairy with quinoa, or with iron supplements.
Furthermore, you should avoid drinking too much coffee, tea, or red wine when consuming foods rich in iron. These beverages contain polyphenols, which bind to iron in the intestine, inhibiting its absorption.
In any case, healthy people, who follow a well-balanced diet, probably get more than enough iron from food.
How much iron do we need a day?
Adult men and women older than 51 years require only 8 mg of iron a day.
The recommended daily intake of iron is 18 mg for women of reproductive age, and 27 mg for pregnant women. As women require high dosages of iron, they may have a hard time to meet their daily needs from food. They may benefit from taking a dietary supplement. You’ll find a wide variety of iron supplements on iHerb.
You can’t possibly get too much iron from food. Only supplements provide high amounts of iron that could lead to side effects. We shouldn’t exceed the maximum safe dose of iron.
Always consult your health care provider before taking a dietary supplement or changing your diet.
Why is iron vital for health?
Iron is a key component of hemoglobin; a protein of red blood cells that transfers oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.
Moreover, iron is involved in energy metabolism, cellular functioning, physical growth, neurological development, and the synthesis of some hormones, amino acids, and collagen.
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.
Common foods high in iron
Common foods high in iron are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, whole grains, nuts (e.g. almonds), seeds (e.g. pumpkin seeds), legumes, beans, potatoes, chocolate, certain fruits (e.g. goji berries, raisins, dates), and vegetables.
The regular consumption of beans is the easiest way to boost your daily intake of iron, though. Beans are among the richest dietary sources of iron. They can help us meet our daily needs. For instance, a serving of green peas, soy, lentils, and chickpeas provides between 25 and 50% of DV!
Furthermore, you could consume fortified foods to skyrocket your iron intake. Actually, many cereal are enriched with iron.