Anyone can develop anemia, whether it be a health issue that runs in the family, or it be something that is newly developed. The importance of incorporating iron rich foods, which can be stressed by medical professionals when diagnosed, and sources of the internet that come up when searching, “how to deal with anemia” can be stressful for patients. Many people may be worried that they might have to completely change their diet to meet their new dietary needs, but thankfully that is simply not the case! In some cases, we may have to make additions to the baseline meals, but there is no need to take them out of your diet altogether.
Here is a list of cultural foods from different continents that you may enjoy eating, or want to try that is part of an anemia friendly diet. It is always amazing to branch out and incorporate new meals, but you may even be surprised to find one of your favorite foods on this list.
Rajma - rajma is a dish that involves red kidney beans in a thick creamy spicy sauce. This dish can be made more anemia friendly by incorporating spinach into the gravy. There are many recipes that can be followed from the internet, but feel free to tweak any you find to suit your needs.
Whole wheat is an essential diet staple for those who are anemic because the iron content of whole wheat flour helps in reducing cravings and shortness of breath caused by iron deficiency. It also offers almost all your daily recommended intake, which helps reduce fatigue, headaches, and dizziness.
Suya - suya is a spicy meat skewer that is typically made from either chicken or beef liver/kidney. The meats are marinated in a spicy sauce and grilled on skewers.
Efo riro - efo riro is a native soup from western Nigeria, which translates to “mixed spinach.” It is made of spinach, red bell peppers, habanero peppers, and onions.
The main ingredient in this dish is white beans, which are the beans that are the richest in iron. “White, lima, red kidney and navy beans closely follow soybeans, offering 4.4–6.6 mg of iron per cup cooked, or 24–37% of the RDI (8, 9, 10, 11).” Adding this dish to meals as a side dish is a great way to increase the iron content in your meals.
Spinach ohitashi - spinach ohitashi is a Japanese side dish made of blanched spinach soaked in soy broth topped with bonito flakes.
Spinach is one of the most natural and whole-food sources of iron, which makes this side dish perfect for those with anemia as “1 cup of this healthy green (frozen and then boiled) delivers 3.72 mg of iron.” Adding this side dish gives you more freedom to be more lenient with the iron content in the main parts of your meal. However, having an iron rich main dish in addition is extremely beneficial.
Natto - natto is a traditional Japanese food made from whole soybeans that have been fermented with Bacillus subtilis var. Natto.
I hope you have seen that anemia friendly foods exist all around the world, and may even exist in your current diet. It is important to ensure that you have at least one strong source of iron in each meal when suffering from anemia. So, go try something new! Make of the recipes above, who knows maybe you will have a new favorite dish by the end of today!