Hemoglobin is an essential component of your blood, which is actually a protein molecule responsible for transport of oxygen in your body. According to medical science, the normal Hb level (grams/deciliter)in females for the age of 18 years ranges from 12.1 to 15.1 g/dl (mean 14.0 g/dl) whereas in males from the age of 18 years, it ranges from 13.6 to 17.7 g/dl (mean 15.5 g/dl). Any imbalance in the level of hemoglobin in our body can lead to many problems and malfunctions. Symptoms of low hemoglobin level are extreme fatigue, rapid heartbeat, peeling fingernails,fainting spells and low immunity.It is noteworthy that women are more susceptible to anemia. The level of hemoglobin gets low due to iron deficiency and can lead to anemia because women have a lower baseline amount of red blood cells than men;they also have menstrual bleeding every month which serves to decrease their hemoglobin levels even more. The chronic deficiency can lead to organ failure.
Function of hemoglobin
The most important function of hemoglobin in our body is the transport of oxygen from lungs to tissues and cell. It also transport back carbon dioxide from tissues and cells to lungs for exhalation. Another function is that it gives red color to our blood.
Causes of Low hemoglobin level:
The general and common cause of low hemoglobin count is a blood loss which can occur because of various reasons. For example,
- Heavy bleeding because of serious injuries, wounds or accidents.
- Bleeding in your digestive tract, such as from ulcers, cancers or hemorrhoids
- Frequent blood donation
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Heavy bleeding after childbirth, particularly after C-section
- Chronic nosebleeds
Other causes are excessive dieting, unhealthy lifestyle and some fatal diseases like cancer.
Many of us are oblivious of the fact that iron is not made in the body and hence get absorbed from what you eat. So the best way to raise the level of hemoglobin in your body is the addition of iron-rich food in your diet. Iron-rich food is a natural cure for anemia and essential for getting normal hemoglobin levels. Here is the list of foods and tips that can raise your Hb level to normal without taking iron supplements.
“Meet your iron deficiency from healthy food sources rather than synthetic supplements.”
15. Fruits And Vegetables With High Level Of Vitamin C
If a person is anemic, his body will increase the absorption of iron to raise its level from the food he takes. Conversely, if the iron level is low in the body, it decreases the absorption of iron automatically. Doctors suggest all those vegetables and fruits that are rich in vitamin C as it increases the absorption of non-heme iron by 85%. Similarly, there are foods that reduce the absorption of iron in the body e.g., black tea.
Fruits and vegetables with high level of vitamin C are oranges, chili pepper, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, kale, broccoli, papaya, strawberries, cauliflower etc. So make sure to eat it if you’re suffering from low hemoglobin problem.
1 cup cooked white beans contain 100g of iron. Similarly, beans of all other varieties are rich source of iron. You can incorporate beans in your diet in any form.Add them in salad, puree them into a dip and eat with raw veggies, or toss into a stir-fry.
13. Poultry Meat
Iron present in poultry and fish is heme iron whereas, egg yolks contain mostly non heme iron. Turkey is higher in iron than chicken and fish. Light meat turkey and dark meat turkey supply about 8 percent and 13 percent of the daily value for iron respectively. That means dark color meat provides a high level of iron and increases hemoglobin levels. White pork contains a similar amount of iron as Turkey.By adding poultry meat in your diet in a balanced way,you can achieve the target of robust health.
12. Beef And Lamb
Red meat is the richest source of heme iron that gets absorbed in our intestine. It is good to add beef and lamb in your diet to raise your Hb level but, don’t go binge on red meat as it is one of the biggest causes of cardiovascular diseases because of its high cholesterol and fat content. A balance diet is very important. If you have a problem of high cholesterol, you should talk your doctor about adding red meat in your diet. Red meat can be added in your diet in a variety of ways. Whether you make grilled flank steaks or make a hamburger or add it in pasta, it is delicious in everyway. So make sure to eat red meat to achieve normal hemoglobin levels.
11. Dark Leafy Vegetables
Dark leafy vegetables are not only a rich source of minerals(iron and calcium) but also contain high amount of many vitamins and fibers. Doctors highly recommend green leafy vegetables to anemic people. There are varieties of leafy vegetables available. Arugula, broccoli, collard green, spinach, kale, swiss chard, dandelion green, etc. They play a very important role in improving low hemoglobin and increasing blood count .
10. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolates are loaded with nutrients that boost your health. It not only lowers your blood pressure but, also increases your blood count. 100g of dark chocolate contains 8mg of iron in it. So you can pump up iron in your body by eating delicious dark chocolates.
Note: 100 gram (3.5 ounces) of dark chocolate is a fairly large amount of daily consumption. For this reason, a dark chocolate is best consumed in moderation to achieve normal hemoglobin levels.
Garlic is considered one of the world’s healthiest foods because of its high nutritional value. So garlic provides an effective DIY solution to recover iron deficiency. It cloves have amazingly high content of vitamins and minerals. 100 grams of garlic provide 21% of iron in our body and 52% of vitamin C of the daily recommended amount. It has a slightly pungent smell and is therefore hard to consume in raw form, however, it’s been used extensively in variety of recipes, especially for seasoning/garnishing. It is used in eastern cuisine to enhance the flavor of vegetable, meat and seafood. Use garlic in your daily meals and overcome your iron deficiency and improve low hemoglobin.
“Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, which can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated properly. The best treatment is intake of iron rich foods.”
8. Pumpkin Seeds
A handful pumpkin seeds or an ounce contains 1mg of iron which is about 5% of the recommended daily value. Pumpkin seeds are more effective if eaten raw, but you can also roast them for 10 to 15 minutes for adding taste or can add them in your regular meal. Season these seeds to your liking and enjoy being healthy.
All nuts are very delicious and are liked by all of us. The best thing about nuts is that all of them contain some amount of iron in them. Humble almond contains the highest amount of iron comparatively and hence is a king of nuts. One ounce of humble almonds everyday provides 6% of iron. Almonds are cheapest of all the other nuts and are available everywhere easily. Other nuts with high iron content are cashew nuts, pistachios and walnuts,which contain 1.7mg, 1.2mg and 0.9 mg per ¼ cup respectively. Oil roasted cashew nuts and almonds are also widely available and can be added to desserts, ice creams and even salad. Add nuts in your diet daily to improve hemoglobin levels and enjoy being healthy.
Potato is considered the king of vegetables because of its yummy taste and versatility. It is equally loved by kids and adults. Eating potatoes can be a great way to boost your iron and improve hemoglobin levels. They contain 1.55mg of iron per bowl. It is also noteworthy that skin of potatoes also contains iron, so it’s good to use them with skin intact. The added bonuses of potatoes are Potassium, fibers, vitamin C and magnesium. Since potatoes also contain vitamin C, they also help your body to absorb iron.Potatoes can be used in a variety of ways. Boil them, fry them, add them in salad and soups or bake them, they are delicious in every way.
Mussel is a shellfish widely available and is loaded with many health benefits. They are part of cuisines of many cultures, specifically in many European and Pacific countries. It is the top choice of seafood lovers. One hundred grams of mussels provide around 13% of your daily vitamin C needs and 22% of your daily iron needs. It is also a good source of selenium and vitamin B12. 3oz of mussels contain 5.7 mg of iron in them. Other mollusks like clam and oysters are also high in iron. They are easy to cook and economical too.Eat mollusks and increase your blood count and achieve normal hemoglobin levels.
Note: All sea foods, including mussels are prone to contamination because of bacteria and algae. Mussels can deteriorate quickly and become poisonous and extremely dangerous. Make sure you buy fresh mussels and it’s better to buy live mussels instead of dead.
Organ meats such as liver have been found very effective in increasing blood count.Amount of heme iron in liver varies considerably depending on its type.Similarly, your requirement for iron varies according to your gender and age. Women of reproductive age need 18 mg of iron per day because of blood loss during menstrual periods and therefore liver is highly recommended for young girls. After the time of menopause, a woman’s irons need decreases to 8 mg per day. Beef liver contains comparatively less iron than chicken liver, around 5mg per 3 ounce serving whereas chicken liver contains 11mg per 3 ounces per serving. Goose liver and pork liver contain large amount of iron, 28.7 mg and 13.4mg per 3 ounces respectively.
Note: Overeating of liver can cause health complications. Iron level higher than normal can harm vital organs of your body.
3. Whole Grains And Fortified Cereals
Whole grains and refined grains both are rich source of iron. Among so many grains available Oatmeal, barley, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, corn and bulgur contain highest iron content.There are many foods available that are made from grains. Grains are also available in raw form. Take a moment and read the label of fortified cereals. You will find that all cereals contain a balanced amount of iron in them. There are varieties of ready to eat cereals available in the market and is mostly used in breakfast. Common cereals are oat bran flakes, corn flakes and wheat flakes packed with high nutritional value.
Note: Be careful of high sugar level in commercial cereals.
Asparagus is an edible plant which huge health benefits. Its rhizome is also used to make medicines around the world. This succulent and tender vegetable can become part of any meal.100g of asparagus contain 2.1mg of iron. It can provide you 15% of the daily recommended intake of iron. Must use it if you want to improve low hemoglobin.
Olive is a fruit with many types. 100 grams of olives contain 3.3mg of iron. The good thing about olives is that they can be part of your everyday meal. You can add them to salad, soups, pasta, pizza, burgers, etc. You can stir fry them and can even make variety of dishes with olives. Another important aspect of olives is that it’s a great source of vitamin C and we know that vitamin C enhances iron absorption in our body.
- If you are suffering with acute anemia, then only iron rich foods wouldn’t help. You need to take iron supplements as well with the recommendation of your health care provider.
- There are certain foods that inhibit iron absorption in our body because of the presence of phytic acid. For example; legumes and bran. Take these foods after intervals. Their regular consumption can inhibit iron absorption ion your body.
- Regular intake of vitamin C enhances iron absorption. You should add all citrus fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Adopt good eating habits.
- Try to address all the stressors in your life as stress also contributes to many diseases including anemia.
- Don’t go on binge for dark chocolates as it contains caffeine and the obromine, which can keep you awake at night.
- Pregnant women should consult a doctor before adding iron-rich food in their diet.
- Babies are often at risk of “milk anemia” and can suffer with iron deficiency.By consulting a doctor, mothers should add iron-fortified baby foods in their diet.
- Excess iron intake has been associated with many diseases like liver damage, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, it is good to take iron through food rather than from synthetic supplements.