Heme Iron In Animal Foods Verses Non-Heme Iron In A Whole Food Plant Based Diet
All sources of iron are not created equally. There are two sources of dietary iron: heme iron found in animal blood and muscle, and non-heme iron found in plants. Some may think that people who eat a whole food plant-based diet would be more prone to suffer from iron-deficiency but the data shows they are no more prone to iron-deficiency than meat eaters.
Some may also think the iron in meat is better than the iron in plant foods but this is also not the case. Heme iron is associated with the increased risk of metabolic syndrome that includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol, and excessive weight around the mid-section. Heme iron is also associated with higher risk of heart disease.
It is thought that heme iron plays these roles because it can act as a pro-oxidant and contribute to the development of atherosclerosis by catalyzing the production of hydroxyl-free radicals promoting low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation.
1 mg a day of heme iron consumed daily is associated with a 27% risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD). Studies have also found an association with the consumption of heme iron and increased risk of stroke and diabeteswith a 16% increased risk with every 1 mg of heme iron consumed.
There was a 12% increase of the risk of cancer with every 1 mg of heme iron consumed.
You probably guessed it but the increased risk of these diseases was not found with non-heme iron in plants. You can find non-heme iron in dark leafy green vegetables, legumes, nut, grains, and fruits, which is just one more reason to consume a health protecting whole food plant-based diet. You can find the better health supporting plant foods on this nutritional guide based on the Dr Sebi food list.
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