Today we wanted to talk about iron.
It is commonly thought that those who eat plant-based diets may be more prone to iron deficiency, but it turns out that they’re no more likely to suffer from iron deficiency anemia than anybody else.
This may be because not only do those eating meat-free diets tend to get more fibre, magnesium, and vitamins like A, C, and E, but they also get more iron.
And the iron found in plants is non-heme iron.
Those eating meat-free diets don’t get any of the heme iron found in blood and muscles, which may be a good thing. The avoidance of heme iron may be one of the key elements of plant-based protection against metabolic syndrome, and may also be beneficial in lowering heart disease risk.
The link between iron intake and coronary heart disease has been contentiously debated, but the inconsistency of the evidence may be because the majority of total dietary iron comes mostly from plants and so total iron intake is associated with lower heart disease risk. But if you just look at iron intake from meat, it’s associated with significantly higher risk for heart disease. This is thought to be because iron can act as a pro-oxidant contributing to the development of atherosclerosis by oxidising cholesterol with free radicals. The risk has been quantified as a 27% increase in coronary heart disease risk for every one milligram of heme iron consumed daily. Read all here.