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HEME VS NON-HEME IRON

Here is another one of those highly debated topics among vegans and carnivores.

Simply put, iron from our diet comes in two forms, heme (from animal flesh like meat, poultry and seafood) and non-heme (from plant foods like whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and leafy greens).

Heme iron from animal products is more absorbable than non-heme iron. However, it’s also not well regulated by the body. This means that once it’s been absorbed, the body has no mechanism to remove the excess iron, which has been linked to some severe medical conditions like heart disease, stroke, metabolic syndrome and even cancer.

Absorption, however, can be affected by many factors, so even meat-eaters can become anemic. Vegans and vegetarians can not only meet but exceed the daily iron requirements on a whole foods plantbased diet.

As an example, per 100g:
Red meat 2.6g of iron
Spinach 2.7g of iron

Although the iron in red meat is more bioavailable, spinach contains vitamin C, which increases the absorption rate and is not associated with disease.

To increase absorption, you should avoid the following within one hour of consuming iron-rich foods:
• Red wine
• Coffee
• Tea
• Calcium-rich foods

On the other hand, foods that enhance absorption are:
• Oranges
• Lemons
• Tomatoes
• Broccoli