Tag Archives: iron

All About Chia

21 Sep

Chia Seeds

Salvia hispanica, most commonly referred to as chia, is an annual flowering plant that belongs to the mint family. Chia is likely best known for its use in chia pets, where, upon watering, their sprouts grow to resemble animal hair. Having gained popularity in the 1980’s, chia pet products have since expanded to include a plethora of other “pets” such as people and, yes, even zombies.

The word “chia” is said to have been derived from chian, which translates to oily; fitting because the seeds contain at least 25% extractable oil. The chia plant is native to Guatemala and Mexico and can grow to upwards of 3 feet. The most commonly used part of the plant is its seed, which has recently gained popularity due to the seed’s richness in nutrients such as manganese, Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, and phosphorus. These black and white ovular seeds, typically no larger than .039 inches in size, may be tiny but they are nutritional powerhouses (source).

Having five times the amount of calcium and protein than milk (source), at least two times the fiber than nuts (source), more potassium than a banana (source), more than two times the iron than spinach (source), more protein than an egg (source), more than 25 times the iron, seven times the omega 3 and more than eight times the omega 6 than salmon (source), it’s no wonder chia seeds have become so popular as a food source.

1 oz of chia seeds provides the following recommended daily values (source):

  • 13% total fat
  • 3% potassium
  • 4% total carbohydrates
  • 40% dietary fiber
  • 9% protein
  • 17% calcium
  • 12% iron
  • 23% magnesium

Chia seeds are easily incorporated into your diet, whether it be via smoothies, oatmeal, salad dressings or baked into bread. When placed in liquid, chia seeds develop a gelatinous coating which makes them an excellent egg replacer and thickener, perfect for pudding. Chia seeds can also be sprouted for use in salads, sandwiches and wraps.

What is your favorite way of incorporating chia into your diet?

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Plant-Powered Iron

21 Oct

Iron is a mineral that is present in every cell of our bodies. Not only does it assist with healthy hair, skin and nails, it also assists in the transportation of oxygen through our bodies. Iron is a component of hemoglobin, which is contained in red blood cells. Red blood cells transport oxygen through our bodies, enabling us to function. Low levels of iron cause low hemoglobin, which creates fewer red blood cells, resulting in anemia. Anemia symptoms may include feeling dizzy, weak or tired, shortness of breath, headaches, pale skin, or trouble concentrating (source). This is why it is very important to have sufficient iron intake.

Despite the common myth, those who live off of a plant-based diet can get plenty of iron. Below are a few food sources rich in this vital nutrient (source):

  • Grains: brown rice, fortified breads and cereals, whole grain bread
  • Legumes: adzuki beans, baked beans, black beans, chick peas (garbanzo beans), kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans and pinto beans
  • Fruits: dried apricots, avocados, currants, dates, figs, prunes and raisins
  • Vegetables: bok choy, broccoli, kale, mung bean sprouts, peas, unpeeled potatoes, savoy cabbage, spinach, turnip greens, tomato juice and watercress
  • Soy: milk, tofu, yogurt, etc.

Kale

It is important to know, however, that our bodies need to be able to absorb the iron as well. Plant-based iron is absorbed more readily when consumed with Vitamin C. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, binds to the iron in our bodies, creating more stability which in turn makes the iron more soluble (source).

The easiest natural way of getting both iron and Vitamin C is to eat foods that are rich in both nutrients, such as: asparagus, broccoli, dark green leafy vegetables (i.e. bok choy and kale), potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes and watermelon (source). Another option is to simply pair the iron-rich food with a Vitamin C-rich food. Some examples include: having a spinach salad with oranges or citrus dressing, eating oatmeal with fresh mangoes or strawberries, serving your beans with bell peppers and herbs, or enjoying a nice tofu lasagna. Finally, there are always supplements!

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