Iron is an essential nutrient that mainly aids in transporting oxygen throughout the body. It is an important component of haemoglobin found in red blood cells, that transports oxygen throughout the body. There are basically two types of iron found in our diets. This includes heme and nonheme iron. Heme iron is only found in animal products while the non-heme iron is found in plants. Iron also serves other important functions like maintaining healthy skin, hair, nails and cells. The recommended daily intake of iron is 18 mg.
Here is a list of foods which are rich in iron in Kenya.
Green vegetables such as spinach are very rich sources of iron. Spinach is rich in non-heme iron. About 100 grams of cooked spinach contains 3.6 mg of iron. This accounts for about 20% of the iron requirement for a woman’s body.
The most common varieties of legumes in Kenya are beans, peas and lentils. Legumes are very rich sources of non-heme iron. One cup of cooked beans contains about 8mg of iron. Lentils contain 6.6 mg of iron per cup cooked while peas provide about 5 mg of iron. According to local research, regular consumption of legumes such as beans and peas may lower blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels in the body.
Pumpkin seeds are rich sources of iron that provide approximately 26% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of iron. An estimated 28 gram serving of pumpkin seeds can provide about 4.2 mg of iron.
Popular types of organ meat in Kenya include liver, kidneys and gizzards. Organ meats such as liver are very rich sources of heme iron. Just a 100 gram serving of beef liver contains about 6.5 mg of iron, which is approximately 36% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI).
Potatoes are important subsistence crops in Kenya. Approximately 20,000-30,000 hectares are grown annually. They are good sources of non-heme iron. 300 grams of sweet potatoes contain approximately 2.5 mg of iron while the same quantity of Irish potatoes contains about 3.2 mg of iron.
There are different varieties of mushrooms which are rich in non-heme iron. Some of the different types of mushrooms include; shiitake mushrooms, white mushrooms, portobello and oyster mushrooms. A cup of cooked white mushroom contains 2.7 mg of iron while the same quantity of oyster mushrooms can provide about 5 mg of iron.
Fruits are known to have very impressive nutritional values. They contain various nutrients necessary for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. There are various fruits which are rich sources of non-heme iron. Some of the best include; dates, berries, prunes, olives and watermelon.
Red meat is actually one of the most easily accessible sources of heme iron in Kenya. A 100 gram serving of beef contains about 2.7 mg of iron, which is 15% of the recommended dietary intake. Red meat is also rich in proteins and selenium.
Nuts are also good sources of non-heme iron, in particular, cashew nuts, and macadamia nuts. They contain about 7% RDI of iron, which translates to around 1.6 mg of iron per ounce.
10. Whole grains and fortified cereals
Whole grains such as oats contain about 3.4 mg of iron per cooked cup. This translates to about 16% RDI of iron. Processed grains may not be good sources of iron because processing may remove parts of the grain that contain important minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.