10 Perfect Meal Plans for Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron deficiency anemia is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. Unfortunately, severe cases can result in impaired cognitive and motor functions in young people and adults. Fortunately, eating more dietary iron helps many people manage or even recover from this kind of anemia.

What is Iron Deficiency Anemia?

Anemia is a condition in which blood lacks healthy red blood cells. Those cells are critical for performing jobs and biological functions like transporting oxygen. Iron deficiency anemia is caused when a person isn't receiving enough iron in their diet.

Symptoms

Symptoms that you may experience if you suffer from iron deficiency anemia include:

  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Inflammation or soreness of the tongue
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Unusual cravings for ice, starch, or dirt
  • Brittle nails
  • Poor appetite

Complications

For those who experience mild iron deficiency anemia, you won't suffer much. At most, you might feel a little tired some days or become worn out easier. However, those with severe iron deficiency anemia or those who leave it untreated may experience some serious complications.

These complications include:

  • Heart problems
  • Heart failure
  • Difficulties and problems during pregnancy
  • Premature births
  • Delayed growth
  • Delayed development
  • Increased susceptibility to infections

Meals for Iron Deficiency Anemia

Keep reading to learn some mouth-watering recipes packed with dietary iron...

1. Breakfast: Oatmeal and Dry Fruit with Nuts

One way to start your day off with a great dose of iron is to have a bowl of oatmeal with dry fruit and nuts.

Why Oatmeal and Dry Fruit with Nuts Will Help

Oatmeal, made up of rolled oats, contains 26% of your daily recommended value of iron per 100 grams. Starting your day off with an oatmeal cereal can therefore be great for including iron in your diet. Dry fruit and nuts are also great to add for extra nutritional benefits. Nuts, for example, also contain a lot of iron.

Ingredients Needed:

  • Steel-cut oats
  • Dry fruits of your choice
  • Nuts of your choice
  • Milk
  • Water

How to Prepare:

  1. Pour 1 cup of water/milk/combination into a saucepan
  2. Bring liquid to boil
  3. Pour in 1/2 cup of oats
  4. Wait around 5 minutes for oats to thicken and cook, stir frequently
  5. Wait until oats absorb all liquid
  6. Pour into bowl
  7. Add other ingredients as desired (brown sugar, cinnamon, etc)
  8. Add dry fruit and nuts into the bowl
  9. Eat

2. Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Orange Slices

Another delicious breakfast to help treat your iron deficiency anemia is with scrambled eggs, spinach, tomatoes, and orange slices on the side.

Why Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Orange Slices May Help

Eggs offer a lot of health benefits like protein and iron. Although, eggs don't always have the greatest rate of iron absorption like other foods. Luckily, you can enjoy the iron benefits that eggs provide as long as you include orange slices into your diet. Orange slices are rich in vitamin C; this vitamin is helpful in boosting the body's ability to absorb iron.

Ingredients Needed:

  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 6 grape tomatoes
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Salt and pepper

How to Prepare:

  1. Coat some olive oil over a skillet on medium heat
  2. Add spinach and tomatoes and cook until spinach starts to wilt
  3. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl and pour water into the bowl until its foamy
  4. Pour eggs into skillet
  5. Stir eggs once the color on the edges is lighter than the rest of the egg
  6. Continue to stir eggs towards the center of the skillet until everything is cooked
  7. Remove from heat and serve on a plate
  8. Salt and pepper to taste
  9. Eat

3. Lunch: Whole Grain Tortilla with Black Beans, Salsa, Shredded Cheese and Salad

For a lunch that is not only delicious but also rich in iron, you should make a whole grain tortilla filled with black beans, salsa, and shredded cheese. A salad made of dark leafy greens can be an additional way to increase iron in your diet.

Why Whole Grain Tortillas with Black Beans, Salsa, Shredded Cheese, and Salad May Help

Whole grains contain some iron. However, this recipe is especially great with black beans and salsa, which also both contain this needed nutrient. Finally, the salad? You probably guessed it: leafy greens also contain iron.

Ingredients Needed:

  • 1.15 ounce of black beans
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheese
  • 4 whole grain tortillas

How to Prepare:

  1. Mash the black beans into a bowl
  2. Add salsa and continue to mix and smash until mixed
  3. Spread mixture over tortillas evenly
  4. Spread shredded cheese over the tortilla
  5. Microwave for 1-2 minutes
  6. Eat

4. Lunch: Grilled Chicken with Raw Veggies and Dark Leafy Greens

Another delicious lunch meal for fighting iron deficiency anemia is grilled chicken with raw veggies and dark leafy greens.

Why Grilled Chicken with Raw Veggies and Dark Leafy Greens

Along with being a great source of protein, chicken also contains a good amount of iron. However, to get as much as iron as possible, it's a good idea to include other staples to your meal. Raw veggies like carrots may be able to improve your iron count. Dark leafy greens, especially, carry a high amount of iron.

Ingredients Needed:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
  • Your choice of raw veggies and dark leafy greens

How to Prepare:

  1. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, chili powder, salt, and pepper into a bowl
  2. Whisk until combined
  3. Place chicken in a zip-lock bag and pound them until 1/2-inch thick
  4. Pour marinade into bag with chicken and seal it
  5. Place bag into baking dish
  6. Place dish into fridge or 30 minutes to 2 hours
  7. Heat grill to 375-450 degrees F
  8. Remove chicken from bag and grill for 5-8 minutes per side
  9. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes after cooking
  10. Eat

5. Dinner: Baked Cod on Bed of Wilted Swiss Chard in Garlic and Oil

For those who love seafood, you're in luck: fish contain a good amount of iron. This meal includes Swiss chard, garlic, and oil for a mouth-watering dinner.

Why Baked Cod on Bed of Wilted Swiss Chard in Garlic and Oil May Help

Fish obviously contains lots of iron. To give your dinner the ultimate boost of iron, however, you need to include garlic. This herb will increase the amount of iron in the meal as well as enhance its overall flavor. Win-win!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of cod
  • Olive oil for anti-sticking
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • Salt
  • Cracked pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, ribs removed and leaves chopped
  • Splash of white wine

How to Prepare:

  1. Preheat your oven for 450 degrees F
  2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or drizzle olive oil over it
  3. Place fish on baking sheet and lightly brush some milk over the fish
  4. Season with salt and pepper
  5. Place panko crumbs in a bowl and sprinkle with extra virgin olive oil over it
  6. Toss crumbs with fingers and then sprinkle over fish
  7. Bake fish at 400 degrees F for 8-10 minutes
  8. Saute Swiss chard by heating it on a skillet with 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  9. Add garlic to the skillet and cook for 1 minute
  10. Add wine to the skillet and cook for a few more minutes, stir regularly
  11. Season with salt
  12. Spread chard on serving plates, then lay fish atop the bed
  13. Eat

6. Dinner: Grilled Pork Chop with Applesauce, Spinach, White Beans on the Side

For those who prefer nonseafood meant, then you can find a good dose of iron with pork chops. This meal adds a few other ingredients to make it even healthier and add more iron.

Why Grilled Porch Chop with Applesauce, Spinach, and White Beans on the Side May Help

One of the richest pork-based iron sources? A pork chop. If you happen to love pork chops, then you're in luck with this recipe. Spinach and white beans can also be added for taste and for an extra source of iron. While applesauce doesn't contain a lot of iron in itself, it can help your body absorb iron.

Ingredients:

  • 4 lean pork chops
  • 4 dessert spoons of applesauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Spinach
  • White beans

How to Prepare:

  1. Preheat the grill for around 10 minutes
  2. Trim fat from pork chops
  3. Place pork chops on grill and cook each side for five minutes
  4. Check for pink meat and either continue to cook or take off grill
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  6. Heat applesauce in skillet with spinach, stir consistently, for a few minutes
  7. Either cover pork chops with sauce and spinach or eat on the side
  8. Eat white beans on the side

7. Snack: Peanuts and Raisins

If you need a snack between meals, then you can easily snack on peanuts and raisins.

Why Peanuts and Raisins May Help

Peanuts are a great source of iron. 1 cup easily contains 6.7 mg. Raisins also have a decent amount of iron and taste great alongside peanuts. Best of all, this snack is filling, so you don't need to eat much of it to tide you over til your next meal.

Ingredients

  • Handful of peanuts
  • Handful of raisins

How to Prepare

  1. Grab peanuts and raisins and place in a bowl
  2. Eat at your leisure

8. Snack: Whole Grain Toast with Nut Butter

Another great snack idea? A delicious piece of toast topped with nut butter.

Why Whole Grain Toast with Nut Butter May Help

While whole-grain toast only has a small amount of iron, it's a great method for spreading an iron-rich source like nut butter. Almond butter, in particular, has high iron content.

Ingredients:

  • Whole grain bread
  • Nut butter (almond)

How to Prepare:

  1. Toast slice of whole-grain bread in toaster to preference
  2. Spread nut butter evenly over toast
  3. Add alternative ingredients as desired
  4. Eat

9. Snack: Vegetables and Hummus

One final snack is to eat vegetables and hummus to bring in extra iron.

Why Vegetables and Hummus May Help

All of these ingredients contain healthy amounts of iron.

Ingredients:

  • Choice of vegetables
  • Hummus

How to Prepare

  1. Serve hummus
  2. Dip vegetables of choice in hummus
  3. Eat

10. Dessert: Dark Chocolate Almond Bars

For a late-night meal, snack, or dessert, consider making dark chocolate almond bars.

Why Dark Chocolate Almond Bars May Help

We already know that almond nuts are great sources of iron. But did you know that dark chocolate has a lot of iron, too? Per 100 g of chocolate, you can expect to have 11.9 mg of iron.

Ingredients:

  • Cacao butter
  • Cacao or cocoa powder
  • Maple syrup
  • Roasted almonds

How to Prepare

  1. Melt cacao butter in mixing bowl
  2. Add maple syrup and combine by whisking
  3. Add cacao or cocoa powder, whisk
  4. Pour into molds or line baking sheet, add almonds
  5. Set in fridge or freezer to harden for 30 minutes to hour
  6. Eat

Conclusion

While suffering from iron deficiency anemia can be problematic, it can be easy to fix it. Talk to your doctor about trying these delicious recipes to bring added iron into your diet.

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