Food and Ingredients News

So why is iron essential to one’s diet?

The advantage of taking in iron from red meats – your pork (yes, it looks white, but it’s from a pig, so it’s red), lamb, beef and boiled sardine – sorry, not that last one; just put that in as a red herring – is that haem iron, the derivative from such cuts, needs no other ingredient to create the synergistic reaction of your body breaking down and absorbing the iron as it needs from non-haem from plants. Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten already…here’s the link to part one, if you’ve got to recap: Iron deficiency rife amongst women of child bearing age?

Up to this point, you’ve not got a clue what haem is, have you, if you’re honest? Even the spellchecker in OneNote is putting a wiggly red line beneath it. But if I was to extend that to haemoglobin…aah, the light dawns!

According to MAP, the Meat Advisory Panel, we are falling short in our haem iron intake, which is key in the formation of haemoglobin, without which our body would be starved of necessary levels of oxygen as that’s what it does – transport oxygen around the body to where it’s needed through the blood stream.

The repercussions of low-iron are not only the obvious condition, anaemia, but can also be mistaken for period pains, too. If you’re an insufferable insomniac, become short of breath, exhibit exhaustion get migraines and feel fatigue in the muscles, then just think back over the last few days and work out how much iron you’ve actually taken in. Indeed, the latest study showed that women of childbearing age and girls in their teens registered highest in the levels of reduced iron. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what’s going on, does it?

Okay – so that’s the science bit over. Red meat in your diet – if you’ve been ignoring it, don’t; not unless you can derive a suitable level of iron from the other sources as indicated earlier in the article. Okay, you may say that MAP has a vested interest in getting us to eat more meat, but there’s no getting away from the fact that iron is critical for our health and well-being.

Some people shy away from red meat as they don’t know how to cook it or handle it safely in the kitchen, with cross contamination, warm and cold meats, how to store it once cooked – get yourself on one of our many cookery courses to find out the best way to derive nutrients from red meat, how to handle it and, most importantly, how to cook red meat to ensure you deliver nutritious, tasty food, without giving your family high blood pressure or depriving them of their haem!