Blood Building Foods
Blood in the human body has the responsibility to transport oxygen, nutrients, and hormones to cells and remove metabolic waste from cells so the body can function optimally. Blood also plays a role in regulating body temperature and prevents blood loss through blood clotting.
The average human body consists of approximately 5 L of blood that is key to its survival and should be enriched with nourishment that will support its growth, development, maintenance and support energy production.
Women, generally, can have a high chance of low iron levels due to their menstrual cycle each month and this tends to be especially common during puberty. Lower iron levels can leave women feeling fatigued and depleted. An iron molecule is at the center of all red blood cells and helps to transport oxygen throughout the body. Oxygen is necessary for the body to create energy in our cells to fuel us. We also have hundreds of proteins and enzymes, of which iron is a critical component, which perform functions that are essential to sustaining life.
Essential nutrients necessary for optimal red blood cell formation include: Iron, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and Folate (also known as Folic Acid). Incorporating these nutrients in multiple ways will help ensure healthy red blood cell formation and optimal energy levels. If you experience low iron levels or anemia, here is a list of blood-building foods you can incorporate into your daily diet. Even if you don’t have low iron levels it is still important to ensure you are consuming these foods to maintain healthy red blood cells. If you are thinking of taking an iron supplement, testing your iron levels before making the decision to supplement is highly recommended because too much iron can be toxic to the body. However, it is unlikely you will get too much iron from food sources.
Foods that build the blood
Spinach is a rich source of iron, calcium, fiber, beta-carotene, vitamins A, B9, E and C. Half a cup of boiled spinach contains 3.2 mg of iron and this accounts for about 20% of the iron requirement for a woman’s body. Include spinach in your diet by adding them to your green smoothies, add to scrambled eggs or steam with other vegetables.
Beetroot (also known as Beets) has a high folate content. They help with repairing and reactivating red blood cells which increases the supply of oxygen to all parts of the body. Beets are also great antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. Enjoy beets raw, lightly cooked or fermented. Don’t forget to also use the beet greens (including stems) as they are even higher in iron, calcium and vitamin C and can be sauteed lightly with garlic as a flavorful side dish.
Grass-fed, organic red meat, lamb, beef, pasture-raised chicken, turkey, and wild-caught seafood are rich in iron as they contain heme iron which is easily absorbed by the body. Heme iron is better absorbed than the non-heme iron found in plants. In general, organ meats are great sources of iron. For example, the liver contains very high quantities of iron and is also a great source of vitamin B12 and folate. It is said that beef liver has more than 600% of your daily requirements of iron and is a must for anemics. Try it sautéed with onions and garlic or you can also often find in a capsulated form. Rotate animal proteins and try not to have red meat more than 2x per week.
Spirulina, a natural powder made from algae, has very nutritious properties. It is an excellent source of B-vitamins and has excellent antioxidant benefits. Spirulina is a ‘must’ for vegans’ due to its high iron, calcium, and protein content. It is also high in chlorophyll which boosts the immune system and releases toxins from the blood. Enjoy it in your green smoothies and always buy from a sustainable source.
Black beans along with being high in iron contain high fiber and protein. Half a cup gives you 1.8 mg, equaling 10% of your daily value. They are a great source for vegans and vegetarians. They contain time-released energy starches that can help those with insulin resistance, such as pre-diabetics and diabetics. They are very versatile in many recipes like soups, salads and may be used as the main protein in meals like macrobiotic bowls.
Lentils contain about 3.3 mg of iron per ½ cup and are also a good source of protein and fiber. Its protein content makes lentils a great choice for vegetarians and vegans and its fiber content supports blood sugar management which keeps energy levels steady. Try kitchari, cooking lentils and mixing them with spices + rice or adding lentils to your salads.
Pistachios are a great source of iron and will help you to easily boost the iron levels in your body. They also contain high levels of B-vitamins, folate, many minerals, potassium, and good fats. Enjoy ½ oz. of pistachios (about 1/4th cup) for a snack or add to your trail mix.
Broccoli supplies a vast amount of nutrients from high fiber, vitamins, minerals and is a plant-based protein. Low in calories, it contains 168 mg of folate for 42% daily value, along with high B6 and is filled with antioxidants. Including broccoli, in your diet, several times a week can balance pH levels while balancing blood acidity, and help detoxify the blood. Broccoli can be incorporated into meals in many ways such as steaming, sautéeing, cooking or simply eating raw.
Raw Oats are a great pick that provide high fiber, protein, along with many trace minerals, and are gluten-free. In just half a cup (13 g) you gain fiber, magnesium, manganese, iron, and B1. They also provide a good source of essential fatty acids due to raw oats being a whole grain! Try using raw oats in a classic overnight oat recipe that is so easy and allows for you to add a favorite yogurt and fruits to customize it to your liking.
Blackstrap Molasses is a thick syrup leftover after sugar is extracted from raw sugar cane. It contains 3.5 mg of iron per tablespoon and has been used in folk medicine as a "blood builder" for centuries. It is a great source of iron, vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. It has a much higher nutrient value than sugar. Use Blackstrap molasses for basting poultry, glazing potatoes, in marinades and in baking.
Dark Chocolate from top-quality sources is an amazing and delicious source of iron. It contains 3.3 mg of iron while providing you with healthy sweetness. Dark chocolate is considered to be a superfood as it’s high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Choosing dark chocolate with at least 60-70% of cacao or higher will give you the most benefits. Just 2-3 squares will leave you feeling satisfied.
Include these blood building foods in your diet to boost oxygen to the brain, increase energy enhance muscle function, provide support to enzyme and protein functions, while incorporating a variety of dense nutrients.