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!

Food and Ingredients News

Iron deficiency rife amongst women of child bearing age

You know when someone cuts themselves, or worse luck, when you cut yourself and you pick up the odour of that metallic tincture? There’s a reason for it. Blood contains iron. Specifically, haem iron, different to the iron in plants, pulses, greens and wholemeal bread, which is non-haem iron.

I know – you’re thinking “What on earth is this bloke on? We’re doing cookery courses!” Bear with me – there is a point to this. Bit more science, then we’re into the cookery bit, promise.

Non-haem iron – the planty, grainy stuff (you should have seen how technical the original research piece on this got – you’ll be glad I failed chemistry, honest) – relies pretty much on the intake of other substances to control how the body deals with it. For instance, if you have cereal with OJ, then the vitamin C from the juice helps the body’s digestion of the non-haem iron found in the grain. If, on the other hand, you enjoyed your cereals but were worried about iron intake found in them because of high blood pressure, for example, you’d derive your enjoyment from bran as the high fibre content acts as a natural sweeper to get rid of the non-haem iron before it has chance to absorb. Drink a cup of tea with it and the tannins therein will have a similar ushering effect out of the system before the non-haem has a chance to react – all in moderation, of course – if you were to eat a box of bran, one cup of Liptons wouldn’t shift all of the iron, you understand.

But what’s concerning the medical councils is that we’re not getting enough iron in our diets, full stop. Or perhaps that should be, as the yanks say, period.  Ah, see! Getting around to the foodie stuff, now.

Whilst there have been reservations in the past about our intake of red meats leading to high blood pressure and inflaming the symptoms of conditions such as gout (nothing at all to do with the ale, red wine, sherry and port, yer honour), there is now the consideration we’ve not got enough metal to steel our mettle. See what I did, there?

Keeping up so far? Good-ho!  Right – take a break and a cup of char to wash away all of that iron from your breakfast cereal and join me in five for part two, Why is iron so essential to one’s diet?