Legumes, an Ideal Iron Source
Legumes are a family of plants including beans and lentils, as
well as soybeans, peas and peanuts. Legumes are high in fiber,
minerals, protein, and iron. In fact, legumes are the answer
to meeting your iron requirements when choosing a low meat
lifestyle, such as the Mediterranean diet. Most women need to
consume 18 mg iron each day, while men only need 8 mg.
The iron in beef and lamb is easily absorbed by the body, but a
serving is only 3 ounces. A 3 ounce serving of meat is about the
size of the palm of a woman’s hand. This amount of beef stew
meat provides 2.5 mg iron. Poultry is not
a good source of iron; two chicken tenders
weigh about 3 ounces and provide only
0.3 mg iron. On the other hand, 1 cup
of cooked lentils will provide more
than 6 mg iron. If meat is the only
source of iron in a woman’s diet,
she would need to eat more than
1¼ pounds of beef, every day to
meet her iron needs! The high levels
of saturated fat and cholesterol from
this type of diet are potential risks to
heart health.
Lentils are not the only iron powerhouse.
Chickpeas, beans, split peas and peanuts are
other legumes which are also high in iron. Don’t
forget peanut butter, chickpea and lentil flour,
refried beans, tofu and other soy and bean products
such as “veggie burgers.” There are dozens of ways to
complement each meal and snack with iron-rich legumes.
I Feel Like Fish Tonight
The main benefit of fish is their omega-3 fatty acid con-
tent. Omega-3 fatty acids carry a host of benefits that lead
to reduced risk of heart disease; they may ease inflamma-
tion, decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure and reduce
blood clotting. They may also enhance brain development in
the fetus and improve learning ability in children. What kind
of fish should you eat, and how much? Salt-water and fatty
fish contain the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Eat 6
ounces of fatty fish each week to receive the most health bene-
fits. Salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines are all
rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Tuna also contains omega-3 fatty
acids, though in a smaller amounts.
Thought it couldn’t get better? It does! Fatty fish are also the
only natural, non-fortified food source of vitamin D. Aside
from the advantages of fatty fish, all fish are a wise choice
of lean protein. Watch the preparation method, though. Opt
for baked, broiled, grilled or steamed fish. Tilapia, snap-
per, cod and most other fish do not provide the heart health
benefits of fatty fish, but they are still healthy when pre-
pared properly. Enjoy fish at least twice a week as part of the
Mediterranean diet.
Olive Oil, the Healthy Fat!
Olive oil is the oil you can feel good about eating! Olive oil is
mainly made up of monounsaturated fatty
acids (MUFAs); they are type of fatty
acids that may actually help lower
your cholesterol as well as increasing
high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cho-
lesterol and decreasing low-density
lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. HDL is
the so called “good cholesterol,” while
LDL is the “bad cholesterol.” High lev-
els of LDL are linked to heart disease
and poor cardiovascular health, while
high levels of HDL may be beneficial to
heart health. MUFAs may also be beneficial to
people living with type 2 diabetes.
Keep in mind that olive oil, while high in MUFAs,
is still a fat. Rather than adding olive oil to your diet,
you should replace other oils like margarine, butter and
animal fats with olive oil. For example, rather than spread-
ing butter on your toast or roti, drizzle with olive oil. Olive oil
has a delicious fruity flavor; you will find yourself wondering
how you ever enjoyed foods without it! Just a little olive oil
can give a big flavor impact. Still, there are some foods than
should not be made with olive oil due to its low smoke point. If
you have ever accidentally grabbed the wrong oil bottle when
preparing to fry a dish, you will have experienced how olive oil
will smoke at a much lower temperature than corn, vegetable,
and canola oil. Olive oil should not be used for frying because
it will smoke at around 380ºF (193ºC). When you need oil for
frying, you should choose canola oil. Canola oil has higher
MUFAs than corn, peanut and vegetable (soybean) oils. Also
pay special attention to the fats in processed foods, such as
cookies, chips and any baked or fried food that you purchase in
stores or restaurants.
Spring 2013
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