The Importance of Iron-Rich Foods in your Pregnancy Diet

The Importance of Iron-Rich Foods in your Pregnancy Diet

Iron is an essential mineral for pregnant women, as it helps to supply oxygen to the baby and prevent anemia. Anemia is a condition where the blood does not have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the tissues. Anemia can cause fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and increased risk of infections and complications during pregnancy and delivery.

The recommended daily intake of iron for pregnant women is 27 milligrams (mg). However, many pregnant women do not get enough iron from their diet, especially if they are vegetarian, vegan, or have certain medical conditions. Therefore, it is important to eat foods that are high in iron, and to take iron supplements if prescribed by your doctor.

There are two types of iron in food: heme and non-heme. Heme iron is found in animal products, such as meat, fish, poultry, and eggs. Non-heme iron is found in plant products, such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, grains, and vegetables. Heme iron is more easily absorbed by the body than non-heme iron, but both types are beneficial for pregnant women.

To increase the absorption of non-heme iron, you can eat foods that are rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, and leafy greens. You can also avoid drinking tea, coffee, or calcium-rich foods at the same time as iron-rich foods, as they can interfere with iron absorption.

In this blog post, we will share some examples of iron-rich African meals for a pregnant woman, that are delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare. These meals include:

- Okra soup: This is a popular dish in West Africa, made with okra, palm oil, spices, and meat or fish. Okra is a good source of iron, vitamin C, folate, and fiber. You can eat okra soup with fufu, pounded yam, or rice.

- Afang soup: This is another West African soup, made with afang leaves, water leaves, palm oil, crayfish, and meat or fish. Afang leaves are rich in iron, calcium, and vitamin A. You can also eat afang soup with fufu, pounded yam, or rice.

- Oat porridge: This is a simple and nutritious breakfast option, made with oats, milk, water, and sugar or honey. Oats are high in iron, fiber, and protein. You can add fruits, nuts, or seeds to your oat porridge for extra flavor and nutrients.

- Beans/moi moi or any other beans product: Beans are legumes that are high in iron, protein, and fiber. Moi moi is a steamed cake made with blended beans, eggs, oil, and spices. You can eat beans and moi moi with bread, rice, or garri.

Also Read: TWO BEST AND HEALTHIEST METHODS OF COOKING MOIN MOIN

- Sweet potato sauce: This is a delicious and healthy sauce, made with sweet potatoes, spinach, peanut butter, tomatoes, onions, and spices. Sweet potatoes are high in iron, vitamin A, and potassium. Sweet potato is also a good source of iron, folate, and vitamin C. You can eat sweet potato sauce with rice, couscous, or bread.

- Spinach stew with beef: Spinach is rich in iron, and when cooked with beef, it provides a hearty and nutritious meal.

- Fufu and Egusi soup: Fufu, made from pounded cassava or yam, paired with egusi soup, which contains leafy greens like bitter leaf or pumpkin leaves, provides a nourishing meal rich in iron and other nutrients.

- Moroccan lentil soup: Lentils are high in iron and protein, and Moroccan lentil soup, flavored with spices like cumin and coriander, is both delicious and nutritious for expecting mothers. Click here for the best Moroccan Lentil soup recipe

- Sorghum porridge: Sorghum is a gluten-free grain that is high in iron. Cooking sorghum into a porridge with milk or water and sweetening it with honey or fruit makes for a hearty and iron-rich breakfast or snack.

- Amagwinya (vetkoek) with liver pâté: Amagwinya are South African fried dough balls often filled with savory ingredients like liver pâté. Liver is exceptionally high in iron, making this dish a great option for boosting iron intake during pregnancy. Click here for the best Amagwinya (vetkoek) recipe

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- Pumpkin leaves (Ugwu leaves): These are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and antioxidants. They can help improve vision, prevent anemia, strengthen bones, and protect against infections.

- Efo leaves: Efo Tete are also rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and antioxidants. They have similar benefits as pumpkin leaves and can also help regulate blood sugar levels.

- Snail: Snail is a high-quality protein that is low in fat and calories. It is also rich in iron, zinc, selenium, and vitamin B12. It can help prevent and treat anemia, support immune system, and promote wound healing.

- Ogbono soup: This is a soup made from ogbono seeds, which are rich in protein, healthy fats, fiber, calcium, iron, and vitamin B. It can help improve appetite, digestion, blood formation, and bone health.

- Bitter leaf soup: This is a soup made from bitter leaves, which are high in vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, iron, and antioxidants. It can help lower blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, and prevent infections.

- Chicken: Chicken is another good source of animal protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. It also contains selenium, which is important for thyroid function and immunity.

- Turkey: Turkey his is similar to chicken, but also contains tryptophan, which is an amino acid that helps regulate mood and sleep.

- Eggs: These are excellent sources of protein, healthy fats, iron, zinc, choline, and vitamin B12. They can help support brain development, cell growth, and blood formation.

- Black soup: This is a soup made from various dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and bitter leaf. It is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and antioxidants. It has similar benefits as the individual vegetables and can also help detoxify the body.

- Semolina: Semolina is a type of flour made from finely ground wheat. It has similar benefits as semovita, but also contains more iron and calcium. It can help prevent and treat anemia and support bone health.

- Miyan karkashi: This is a soup made from karkashi leaves, which are high in vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, iron, and antioxidants. It can help improve vision, prevent anemia, strengthen bones, and protect against infections.

Rounding Off

Kindly note that some foods may also interfere with iron absorption, such as oxalates (found in cocoyam, water yam, spinach, etc.), phytates (found in grains, beans, nuts, etc.), and tannins (found in tea, coffee, etc.). 

To enhance iron absorption, (as I earlier noted), you should eat foods that are high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, guava, tomatoes, and peppers, along with iron-rich foods. You should also avoid drinking tea, coffee, or milk within one hour of eating iron-rich foods.

Do you wonder where you can get all these rich African foods in the US or Canada? Worry no more! My Sasun African Market is right there for you! Start shopping with us today, we deliver to your very doorsteps!

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