Dietary Iron: Eat Your Pots

Looking for a quick and easy way to increase your iron intake? Well look no further. Just eat your cast-iron cooking pots. Sound crazy? Well, as it turns out it’s not totally without merit. Here’s how I heard about it.

A friend of mine told they were watching a television program on health and the host explained that cooking with iron cookware is a great way to give your food an iron boost. Evidently the iron leaches out of the pots and into whatever you’re cooking.

Okay, this sounds logical, but is it really a good idea? My hunch is there’s got to a better way to get sufficient iron. Unless of course your name is Michel Lotito, a French entertainer who actually consumed an entire Cessna 150—I’d hate to see the plumbing in his house.

So rather than continuing to speculate, I decided to run this by Dr. Fuhrman. Yup, you guessed it. You won’t find cast-iron pots with a cashew cream sauce turning up in his next book. Here’s what he had to say:
It is true that cast iron pots can leach their iron into the food. Many people are not aware that green vegetables are rich in iron and are a complete source of all essential amino acids, too. I would rather get my iron from greens, seeds and beans and not pots. Keep in mind, too much iron is heart disease promoting. It is not health favorable to be exposed to too much iron. For example, the extra highly absorbable type of iron in red meat (heme iron) could be an additional reason why red meat is heart disease promoting.
Alright then, what about those veggie sources of iron? Check out the Nutrient Density of Green Vegetables. You’ll see that kale, broccoli, and spinach pack quite the punch when it comes to iron:
100-Calorie Portions
  • Broccoli 3.5 mg
  • Sirloin Steak .7 mg
  • Romaine Lettuce 7.7 mg
  • Kale 5.8 mg
And as for the potential dangers of iron, in the member center Dr. Fuhrman points out that too much iron can actually be toxic:
Certain minerals are toxic and if consumed daily with even as little as 5 to 10 times the recommended daily allowances (which is found in some supplements) can have detrimental effects. These minerals with a narrow therapeutic range are primarily chromium, selenium and iron.
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