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Do you need more iron?

by Geneviève Blanchet RHN

Did you know that people with a recent diagnosis of Celiac Disease should keep an eye on iron deficiency because iron is absorbed by our upper intestines and that is the same part of the intestines that is damaged by gluten intolerance.

Iron deficiency is still considered to be the most common single nutrient deficiency in the world. Hemoglobin –and therefore iron‐ gives us our strength and the look of good health (rosy cheeks). One of the first symptoms of low iron is weakness, fatigue, or loss of stamina. 

In general iron is not readily absorbed from non‐heme sources (fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains). The absorption of iron is significantly better from heme sources such as meat, fish and poultry.

Other ways to improve iron absorption are:

  • Vitamin C, enhance iron absorption and prevent constipation
  • Eating a non‐heme source with a heme source 
  • Cooking in a cast iron pot

Inhibitors of iron absorption include:

  • Excess of coffee, tea, sugar and refined foods 
  • High intake of calcium from dairy or supplements

You can improve your iron intake through iron‐rich foods such as: Meat, dark leafy greens vegetables, beets, blackstrap molasses, seaweeds, poultry, fish, eggs, prunes and legumes. 

A vegetarian diet can be very healthy and healing. Yet, eating some meat and meat broth can also be very beneficial, if you have an iron deficiency. Beef is a concentrated source of protein, minerals, fats and vitamins. When cooking with beef, look for a source of locally raised grass‐fed beef; it is lower in saturated fats and higher in Omega‐3 fatty acids.

Hearty Beef Stew with Whole Grain Brown Rice or Einkorn Pasta

By adding beans and whole grain pasta, you can satisfy a need for an iron boost, without overdoing it on saturated fat and cholesterol.


1 medium onion, diced

3 large carrots, cut into 1/4 inch rounds

1 lb. grass‐fed beef stew meat

3 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil

1 cup of beef or vegetable stock

1/2 cup tomato puree or tomato sauce

1 cup cannellini beans, cooked

1 tsp. of dried thyme

1 tsp. of dried rosemary

2 bay leaves

Sea salt

Freshly ground pepper


  1. Heat a large pot on the stove on medium‐ high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Brown the beef chunks in 2 tablespoons olive oil until all sides are browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the onions and garlic to the pan, cook until soft. 
  3. Add beef back to the pot with stock, tomato puree, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves. Allow beef to stew for 1 1/2 to 2 hours on low heat, with lid on. The secret to tender beef is keeping the heat below the boil, as rapid boiling toughens meat.
  4. Once the beef is tender, add carrots and cannellini beans and cook for 20 minutes or until carrots are tender. Adjust seasoning and serve over pasta.