Let's investigate.... It’s long been touted for its nutritional value and recommended as a high source of iron in particular.This results in the majority of iron in spinach not being absorbed by the small intestine and therefore it is not usable by the body.Heme iron is more resilient to changes in gastric pH and interactions from other dietary components so is more bioavailable.This acid is naturally present in vegetables and binds with iron which blocks its absorption in the gut.There is much debate about whether it is possible to decrease the concentration of oxalic acid in various vegetables and how this is best achieved (mainly through cooking).A 2014 study found that soaking spinach at 80ºC for various periods of time can significantly reduce the concentration of oxalic acid.While soaking spinach for 80mins is pretty unrealistic for the average kitchen, a 20% reduction for 10 minutes seems achievable [6].Another study found that boiling spinach for 12 – 15 minutes reduced the total soluble concentration of oxalic acid from 975mg to 477mg/100g [5].Both cooked and raw spinach have varying & plentiful nutritional benefits besides iron and are very low in calories.Eating a combination of cooked and raw spinach is the best way to ensure you are getting the best of both and keeps you from getting bored.[5] Muhammad Shoaib Akhtar , Beenish Israr , Nighat Bhatty & Amanat Ali (2011) Effect of Cooking on Soluble and Insoluble Oxalate Contents in Selected Pakistani Vegetables and Beans, International Journal of Food Properties, 14:1, 241-249.The Effect of Soaking on the Soluble Oxalic Acid Content of Spinach.


Oxalic acid does not influence nonhaem iron absorption in humans

To evaluate the influence of oxalic acid (OA) on nonhaem iron absorption in humans.Iron absorption was measured based on erythrocyte incorporation of 57Fe or 58Fe 14 days after the administration of labelled meals.After normalization for the spinach reference meal absorption, geometric mean iron absorption from wheat bread rolls with kale (10.7%) did not differ significantly from wheat rolls with kale plus 1.26 g OA added as potassium oxalate (11.5%, P=0.86). .

Oxalic acid does not influence nonhaem iron absorption in humans

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Is Spinach a Good Source of Iron? Is Cooked Better Than Raw

Spinach jumped to center stage when it appeared in every episode of Popeye the Sailor Man in the ’70s and ’80s.Oxalic acid naturally binds with minerals like calcium and iron, making them harder for the body to absorb.Whole grains such as buckwheat and amaranth, vegetables such as chard and rhubarb, beans, and nuts all contain oxalic acid.If you are going to eat raw spinach and other iron-rich foods, perhaps pair them with the following iron absorption enhancers:.It turns out that Popeye made the right decision eating his canned cooked spinach. .

How to Increase the Absorption of Iron From Foods

The recommended intake range is 7–18 mg per day for the general population and up to 27 grams for pregnant women (2).Good sources of non-heme iron include: Fortified cereals, rice, wheat and oats.A person who is iron deficient may have various symptoms, including fatigue, dizziness, headaches, sensitivity to cold and shortness of breath when doing simple tasks.Children, adolescents and women of reproductive age, particularly during pregnancy, are most at risk of iron deficiency.Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, bell peppers, melons and strawberries.In vegetarian and vegan diets, iron absorption may be optimized by including vitamin C-containing vegetables during meals ( 1 ).Good food sources of beta-carotene and vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, squash, red peppers, cantaloupe, apricots, oranges and peaches.One study of 100 people given cereal-based meals found that the presence of vitamin A increased iron absorption by up to 200% for rice, 80% for wheat and 140% for corn ( 14 ).Several studies have reported that the addition of beef, chicken or fish to a cereal-based meal resulted in about 2–3 times greater non-heme iron absorption ( 4 , 15 ).Based on study findings, it was estimated that 1 gram of meat, fish or poultry provided an enhancing effect similar to that of 1 mg of vitamin C ( 4 ).In one study, as little as 2 mg of phytate in foods inhibited iron absorption by 18% when added to wheat rolls.Nonetheless, the negative effect of phytate can be counteracted by consuming foods that enhance non-heme iron absorption, such as vitamin C or meat.However, some evidence shows that it hinders iron absorption, regardless of whether the source is a dairy product or calcium supplement ( 16 ).Studies have shown that 165 mg of calcium from milk, cheese or a supplement reduced iron absorption by around 50–60% ( 4 , 17 ).This is worrisome, as increased calcium intake is commonly recommended for children and women, the same populations that are at risk of iron deficiency.Coffee and tea, both of which are widely consumed around meals, have a high content of polyphenols, and they have been shown to inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron ( 13 ).To counteract the negative effect of polyphenols, be sure to leave a couple of hours between your iron-rich meal and your afternoon tea or coffee.Summary: Foods containing phytates, calcium and polyphenols can significantly reduce iron absorption.Other causes of iron overload include repeated blood transfusions, massive doses from the diet and rare metabolic disorders.Additionally, consuming too much iron over time may cause large deposits of it to form in the liver and other tissues.Summary: To maximize your iron intake, try to include meat, fish, poultry, beans and lentils in your diet, as well as vitamin C-rich foods during your meals. .

Boosting iron absorption: A guide to for the science-minded

Mothers and their young children are at elevated risk for iron deficiency.Back in the Paleolithic, iron deficiency was probably uncommon (Eaton et al 1999).Today, our diets deviate from the Paleolithic model, and iron deficiency is widespread, affecting approximately 20% of people around the world.In the United States, 9-16% of women in this life stage are iron deficient (Sekhar et al 2018).In a nationally representative sample, 15% of U.S. children between the ages of 12 and 23 months were iron-deficient (Gupta et al 2017).In studies conducted in affluent countries in Europe and Asia, rates have ranged anywhere from 4 to 30% for children between 6-36 months (van der Merwe and Eussen SR 2017; Chen et al 2020).It’s normal for babies to be born with enough iron stores to keep them healthy for the first 6 months postpartum.Healthy iron levels are crucial for optimal grown and neurological development, so medical experts recommend that all babies — breastfed or formula-fed — begin consuming an iron-rich diet by the age of 6 months (Berglund and Domellöf 2021; Miniello et al 2021; Van Elswyk et al 2021).Is it as simple as feeding our families foods with high iron content?On average, humans absorb between 15-35% of the heme iron they consume (Insel et al 2003).The molecular form of nonheme iron makes it much less bioavailable to us, much harder for us to absorb.And iron-rich plant foods — like beans, seeds, grains, and leafy greens — often contain phytates, compounds that bind to iron, rendering it inaccessible to the body as it travels through the digestive tract (Kumar 2021).Put these factors together, and you can see why most of the iron in plant foods doesn’t get incorporated into our bodies.The trick is to combine this form of dietary iron with ingredients that actively enhance absorption.Laboratory analyses and experiments confirm that you can increase nonheme iron absorption by adding one or more of the following to your meal:.citric acid, which is found in citrus fruits, and has effects independent of vitamin C (Doumani et al 2020); and.Higher concentrations of vitamin C have improved iron absorption up to 400% (Walczyk et al 2014).Lacto-fermented vegetables also have a sizable impact, improving the iron absorption of a high-phytate meal by 200% (Sheers et al 2016).When 60 mg of citric acid were added to 240 grams of an oat-based nutritional beverage, iron absorption increased by more than 50% (Zhang et al 2007).Regarding malic acid, I haven’t found research that quantifies the benefit, but there’s a study of young children (ages 3 to 6) who were randomly assigned to consume an iron-rich meal with either orange juice or apple juice.A cup of orange juice packs a whopping 124 mg of vitamin C, and it contains citric acid too.By contrast, a cup of apple juice has only 2.2 mg of vitamin C, along with some malic acid.So you might predict that kids would absorb more iron when they drank the orange juice, but that didn’t happen in this study.Instead, kids in both groups absorbed iron from their food to an equal degree (Shah et al 2003).Finally, it’s worth noting that you can boost nonheme iron absorption by adding relatively modest amounts of meat to a meal.minerals that compete with iron for absorption, like calcium, zinc, magnesium, and copper;.Even dietary fiber can reduce iron absorption, albeit to a modest degree (Cook et al 1983).But if you turn the chickpeas into hummus — and add lemon juice (a source of both vitamin C and citric acid) — the iron becomes far more absorbable.In one study, preschoolers with iron deficiency anemia were given vitamin C supplements twice a day—100 mg at each of two phytate-rich meals.As noted above, calcium is an iron absorption inhibitor (Hallberg 1998; Perales et al 2006).And studies report links between cow’s milk consumption and iron deficiency anemia in very young children.This has led a number of medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, to recommend that you avoid giving babies unmodified cow’s milk until they are at least 12 months old (Riley et al 2018).The key is to consume a well-rounded diet that includes lots of iron-rich foods and iron absorption enhancers.In the old days, people assumed that boosting iron meant persuading their children to liver or spinach — foods that many kids dislike.See this Parenting Science article, where I provide information about the iron content of many foods, including grains, fruits, and vegetables.Iron-fortified milk and cereal has helped reduce rates of iron deficiency among children around the world (Eichler et al 2012).It can add iron to your diet,particularly if you cook acidic foods at high temperatures (Kuligowski and Halperin 1992; Sharma et al 2021).Baech SB, Hansen M, Bukhave K, Jensen M, Sørensen SS, Kristensen L, Purslow PP, Skibsted LH, and Sandström B.Nonheme-iron absorption from a phytate-rich meal is increased by the addition of small amounts of pork meat.Studies on the effectiveness of NaFeEDTA-fortified soy sauce in controlling iron deficiency: a population-based intervention trial.Comparison of the effect of animal proteins on nonheme iron absorption.Doumani N, Severin I, Dahbi L, Bou-Maroun E, Tueni M, Sok N, Chagnon MC, Maalouly J, Cayot P. 2020.Lemon Juice, Sesame Paste, and Autoclaving Influence Iron Bioavailability of Hummus: Assessment by an In Vitro Digestion/Caco-2 Cell Model.Effects of micronutrient fortified milk and cereal food for infants and children: a systematic review.Engelmann MD, Davidsson L, Sandström B, Walczyk T, Hurrell RF, and Michaelsen KF.Griebler U, Bruckmüller MU, Kien C, Dieminger B, Meidlinger B, Seper K, Hitthaller A, Emprechtinger R, Wolf A, Gartlehner G.

2016.Health effects of cow’s milk consumption in infants up to 3 years of age: a systematic review and meta-analysis.Improvement of iron nutrition in developing countries: comparison of adding meat, soy protein, ascorbic acid, citric acid, and ferrous sulfate on iron absorption from a simple Latin American-type of meal.Heme, an essential nutrient from dietary proteins, critically impacts diverse physiological and pathological processes.Meat protein fractions enhance nonheme iron absorption in humans.Hurrell RF, Lynch SR, Trinidad TP, Dassenko SA, and Cook JD.Iron absorption in humans: bovine serum albumin compared with beef muscle and egg white.Stainless steel cookware as a significant source of nickel, chromium, and iron.Iron Deficiency Anemia in Children Residing in High and Low-Income Countries: Risk Factors, Prevention, Diagnosis and Therapy.Navas-Carretero S, Pérez-Granados AM, Sarriá B, Carbajal A, Pedrosa MM, Roe MA, Fairweather-Tait SJ, and Vaquero MP.Rutzke CJ, Glahn RP, Rutzke MA, Welch RM, Langhans RW, Albright LD, Combs GF Jr, and Wheeler RM.Sekhar DL, Murray-Kolb LE, Kunselman AR, Weisman CS, Paul IM.Haematologic response of anaemic preschool children to acsrobic acid supplementation.Walczyk T, Muthayya S, Wegmüller R, Thankachan P, Sierksma A, Frenken LG, Thomas T, Kurpad A, Hurrell RF.Inhibition of iron absorption by calcium is modest in an iron-fortified, casein- and whey-based drink in Indian children and is easily compensated for by addition of ascorbic acid.image of iron rich foods and orange clices by istock / vaaseenaa. .

Cooked vs. Raw Spinach for Iron Content

If you eat animal foods, serving cooked spinach with a helping of meat or seafood improves the mineral’s bioavailability.Phytates are antioxidant compounds that are beneficial in themselves but can slow down the absorption of iron and other minerals; they’re found in foods like legumes, grains and tea.Proton pump inhibitors – prescription medicines for heartburn – also interfere with your body's ability to absorb iron, according to a 2017 article in the Journal for Nurse Practitioners.Dr. Andrew Weil suggests that soaking grains in buttermilk or lemon water prior to cooking with them may reduce their phytic acid content.Also, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2017 found that leaving an hour between the time you drink tea and eat foods containing iron improves absorption of the mineral. .

The best iron-rich vegetarian foods

Although red meat and seafood are good sources of iron, many plant-based foods also contain plenty of this mineral.By selecting the right foods, people eating a vegetarian or vegan diet can meet their daily iron requirements without needing to take supplements.Research suggests that eating lentils on a regular basis reduces the risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease.People can include brown, red, or green lentils in soups, stews, curries, salads, and other meals.Several studies support the consumption of beans to reduce the risk of heart disease and related conditions .Tempeh and natto are other soy products that contain iron and may provide additional health benefits.Amaranth This ancient grain is gluten-free and provides 5.17 mg of iron per cooked cup along with over 9 g of protein.Cocoa is also one of the best sources of flavonoid antioxidants, which may provide heart benefits, protect nerves, boost immunity, and improve cognitive function and mood.While dark chocolate is an iron-rich food, it is high in calories, so people should enjoy it as an occasional treat.For a complete meal, people can top baked potatoes with cottage cheese, hummus, beans, or lentils and serve them with vegetables or salad.It is best to avoid adding a lot of butter, oil, or cheese to the potatoes as this increases the fat and calorie content of the meal.Most people find it easy to incorporate more spinach into their diets by sautéing or steaming the vegetable and adding it to soups and stir-fries.To avoid weight gain or the effects of too much sugar, people should enjoy dried apricots in moderation.A 2018 study reported that hemp seed extract demonstrated antioxidant effects in laboratory tests.These antioxidant benefits, coupled with the omega-3 content of the seeds, may help protect against heart problems and neurodegenerative diseases.People can sprinkle hemp seeds on oatmeal, yogurt, or desserts, or blend them into smoothies for a snack that is rich in iron and protein.People typically use blackstrap molasses in baked goods and raw desserts, as a glaze for vegetables, or to sweeten oatmeal.The National Institutes of Health recommend that women over the age of 50 years and all adult men get 8 mg of iron daily.tomatoes They should also avoid foods, beverages, and supplements that reduce iron absorption for up to 2 hours before and after iron-rich meals. .

Drawback for Using Spinach As an Iron Supplement

But men only require 8 milligrams of iron per day, so 1 cup of raw spinach amounts to 10 percent of the recommendation for males.You can only absorb 2 to 20 percent of the nonheme iron from plant foods, the Office of Dietary Supplements reports.Since spinach has oxalic acid that blocks some of the nonheme iron absorption, you’re most likely absorbing closer to the lower end of the range.Cooking spinach releases some of the oxalic acid, making it easier for your body to absorb more iron. .

Spinach Iron Levels Nutrition Myths

As the story goes, in 1870, a German chemist named Erich von Wolf was researching the nutritional benefits of spinach."Popeye became so popular with children in the 1930s that sales of spinach spiked dramatically across the US," Michael Aushenker, a Popeye-enthusiast and editor of The Argonaut wrote in 2014.Finally, in 1981, Terry Hamblin, a hematology consultant at the Royal Victoria Hospital, spoke out about the typo in the BMJ, documenting the story of how spinach was discovered as a key source of iron in the 1980s — and how in the 1930s, researchers reportedly discovered that a typo had made the amount of iron in spinach ten-times more than it actually was."Nothing indicates that the decimal point error ever was made, but the account about it will most likely live a long and colorful life, just like its parent myth, the belief that spinach is a good source of iron," he wrote. .


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