Cooking Food In A Cast-Iron Skillet Could Help You Fight Your Iron Deficiency

how to eat more iron

Unsplash/Cathal Mac an Bheatha

If you’ve recently been told by your doctor that you’re lacking in iron, you’re not alone. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide. It usually affects pre-menopausal women, thanks to their extra blood loss from monthly menstruation (yep, we had to go there).

For our bodies, iron is crucial for things like adequate oxygen transport, energy production and the maintenance of healthy skin, hair and nails. Symptoms of iron deficiency include drowsiness, paleness, shortness of breath, headaches and dizziness, and brittle or damaged hair.

Iron is most easily absorbed as heme iron — a form of iron that is only found in animal-derived foods. Therefore, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, or if you just tend to eat more plant-based foods (which can be a healthy choice), it’s hard to get adequate iron from your daily diet.

What You Can Do About It

how to eat more iron

If you’re a non-meat eater who’s struggling with an iron deficiency, you might want to consider cooking your next meal using a cast-iron skillet. Studies have shown that using cast-iron cookware can increase the iron content of the food that you’re cooking because iron cookware transfers some of its iron into your food. Experts believe that this method is a safe way to increase the iron content of food. One 2013 study, published in the Indian Journal of Pediatrics, found that cooking with cast-iron pots increased the iron content of food by a solid 16 percent.

Acidic foods that have a higher moisture content — like tomatoes and tomato sauce — absorb the most iron from cast-iron skillets compared to other foods. One study, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that the iron content in 100 grams of spaghetti sauce increased from 0.6 milligrams to 5.7 milligrams after being cooked in a cast-iron pot. That’s quite a jump! And one that could seriously help those following plant-based diets increase their daily iron intake.

How To Make This Method Work Even Better

how to eat more iron

Unsplash/Atharva Lele

Longer cooking times using cast-iron cookware will allow more time for the iron to get transferred to your food; therefore, food that gets cooked for longer will see a higher increase in iron content. Foods that contain more water also seem to absorb more iron from cast-iron cookware. Additionally, if you’re using an older cast-iron pan to cook your food, you might not see as much of an increase in its iron content, so aim to swap out your cast-iron cookware for a newer version when it gets worn out.

Good news: A cast-iron skillet won’t just come in handy when it’s time to cook up some pasta sauce. It’s actually very versatile in the kitchen. Use one to roast veggies, heat up paninis or even make fluffy pancakes. Your options are endless!


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