Eat - January 7, 2019

My Go-To Iron Boosting Morning Smoothie

Did you know that 15 to 25 percent of women in the U.S. develop an iron deficiency during pregnancy? Iron is a mineral that is used by the body to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is responsible for transporting oxygen to the body and when you’re pregnant also to the baby. Which means a woman needs to get as much iron as possible when pregnant. A deficiency in iron can also be a significant reason why some women suffer from extreme exhaustion and lightheadedness when pregnant.

There are many effective ways to increase your iron intake. Adjusting your diet by adding more vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, bell pepper, and cauliflower as well as legumes and quinoa will help boost your iron levels. Some research suggests that people who eat red meat are less likely to become iron deficient. There is also a significant amount of research that shows vegans and vegetarians have little to no issue maintaining proper iron levels when eating an iron-rich diet. While pregnant, your doctor (western or eastern) might advise you to take an iron supplement, which is another suitable way to elevate your iron levels.

Whether you’re using food or supplements to increase your iron levels, you’ll want to combine it with Vitamin C. That is the key to optimizing the absorption of iron. Eating Vitamin C rich foods while eating iron-rich foods or taking a Vitamin C supplement while taking an iron supplement could increase your body’s absorption of iron up to six times.

Since I no longer eat meat, I am always looking for ways to keep my iron at an optimal level, and since becoming pregnant, this has become an even more crucial task for me. In addition to taking my prenatal, I’m taking an iron supplement, along with a Vitamin C supplement and I am also using the benefits of food combing.

This smoothie has become my morning go-to. The combo of the spinach, pumpkin seeds and the strawberries are the perfect example of iron plus Vitamin C. Ideally you should lightly steam or sauté fresh spinach because when spinach is raw in form the iron is not fully absorbable by the body. Frozen spinach is less beneficial as well because typically it is cooked by a boiling and draining process which means most of the nutrients are lost. I have however used frozen spinach in a pinch or on mornings when I’m a rush. I’ll simply increase to 3 ½ cups.

On the flipside, strawberries begin to lose Vitamin C quickly after being picked. Research shows frozen strawberries actually preserve their Vitamin C content because they are frozen at their peak.

In addition to this smoothie being healthy, it tastes great, and you only need six ingredients which makes it nice and quick.

Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups of either lightly steamed or lightly sautéed organic spinach
  • 2 cups of unsweetened coconut water
  • 1 cup of frozen organic strawberries
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp organic raw almond butter
  • 1 scoop protein powder

Like any other smoothie, just remember to add your ingredients in the right order.

Step 1: Add the coconut water first. Use an organic unsweetened coconut water. Be sure to check that it’s not from concentrate.

Step 2: Add in spinach, strawberries, pumpkin seeds, and almond butter. Use organic strawberries and organic raw almond butter that is not salted or roasted.

Step 3: Add in your preferred protein powder. Blend together until smooth.

Step 4: Pour into a glass and serve fresh.

 

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Photography - Lauren Alexandra
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