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high iron meals for Hashimoto's

  • m

I have Hashimoto's, exercise quite a bit, and can't seem to get enough iron.  I am gluten intolerant, allergic to shellfish, and rarely consume dairy. I'm looking for some ideas on lunches and dinners that emphasize iron and iron enhancers (Vit C) and avoid iron suckers (like nuts).   Thus far I've had things like seared sirloin on a bed of greens, roasted beets and oranges with an orange vinaigrette; salmon with lentils, sautéed spinach and grapefruit; chicken and broccolini doused in lemon garlic sauce -- basically an animal protein on leafy greens or cooked cruciferous vegetables plus lots of kale and raisins with citrus juice. I'm already supplementing with Floridex Florivital, so that area is covered -- just looking to shake up the menu a bit.  Thanks so much for your suggestions.

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  1. Organ meats (liver, esp) are high in iron, if you like them. Sauteed spinach with fresh calves liver and onions is lovely, especially in cold weather. Add sunflower seeds to all your salads; they're high in iron. Continue to avoid dairy with high iron foods...it zaps it, as does caffeine, so watch your caffeine intact--this includes coffee, tea and sneaky places like soda.

    All sea vegetables are high in iron. Miso soup, and seaweed in any preparation (I can get seaweed salad at my local market) would be good for you.

    I sometimes run iron deficient due to heavy menstrual cycles.

    Best wishes to you, maxie!

    7 Replies
    1. re: pinehurst

      Thank you for the info! Yes, the dreaded organ meats. I'm starting by incorporating ground liver into other things until I become accustomed to the taste. I'm off the dairy and caffiene, so that's good. I'm coming along. Thanks for helping me mix it up.

      1. re: maxie

        Maxie, a couple of hints. My nana, when preparing beef liver (not as mild as calves) would soak it for a few hours in milk, then rinse it before dredging it in seasoned flour. She also wouldn't cook the heck out of it...it was slightly, slightly slightly pink in the middle.

        Also, consider chicken livers...seriously. The Italians in my family are NUTS for them. They are super versatile. They love citrus and onions, and are delish wrapped in bacon. They can be tossed with spinach greens in a wilted warm salad (if you can get some bitter greens in there, all the better...dandelions are wicked high in iron, as are collards and kale) or tossed with a few tagliatelle noodles. Even higher in iron than beef liver.

        Shellfish...mollusks...tend to be good. Oysters, for example, and scallops, and to a lesser degree, clams and muscles. Also, artichokes, which are so lovely and versatile, and play well with all sorts of fish, meat, and veggies.

        Now, here's the thing, which you already know...you absorb more iron, more easily, from heme sources (your meats, esp organ meats, and fish) than you do from even the best veggie and fruit sources. I'm not saying cut out veggies for sure, because they are iron AND nutrient AND vitamin rich, but do make sure you're getting your meat, mmkay?

        1. re: pinehurst

          Thanks again, Pinehurst. I'm going to start with chicken livers. I'm eating an animal protein twice a day, and mixing veggie iron sources with Vit C rich fruits to enhance absorption, and have at least temporarily boosted my beef consumption. Unfortunately, the shellfish is out. A big plate of mussels or clams would be terrific, if only I didn't blow up with hives. I'm "special" that way.

          1. re: maxie

            I'd keep the heme iron sources way up there, multiple times per day. Also see if there's a way to test your iron binding capacity. You may need what my endocrinologist suggests for thyroid patients, Jarrow IronSorb too.

            1. re: mcf

              Thanks. I've boosted my heme sources tremendously.

            2. re: maxie

              Maybe eating liver in a pate or terrine might be more palatable, if you're not keen on eating them "straight up"? Over the summer I made a salad with chicken livers dredged in spices and flour and fried until crisp on the outside and pink in the middle, served with boiled new potatoes, boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, spinach, and a lemony dressing. It was insanely good, and not overly-livery because of the spices and the sharp dressing and tomatoes.

        2. WOW I couldn't type quick enough after reading the reply that said nuts are iron suckers...I have suffered with iron deficient anemia x20+ years, but over the past year and a half I have change my way of life to what I thought of low carb...Very recently my wbc has dropped from it's usual below the norm to what has become a critical value...and continues to plumet. The big "C" has been ruled out time and time again...die to the longevity of the problem...kinda a no brainer. However I am a big NUT snacker...I do take a prenatal vitamin with iron as well as, iron supplements daily. I had never heard of the nut thingy, but my next stop will be "dear Google"
          I love this board and all the dedicated GOOD people on it!!!! Thanks for the fyi. :)

          2 Replies
          1. re: BEACHAHOLIC

            a lil after thought....i have been truly trying to figure out whats been the culprit and i think this thread has made me realize the inevitable......caffeine in my life has been quadroooopled especially recently so i guess i just didn't want to see the huge elephant in the room!
            EYEOPENER for me :(

            1. re: BEACHAHOLIC

              Yes, it stinks. I bought a big bag of concord grapes, only to find I can't eat them. Its hard to forego the nuts, but it's worth it (to me) to see what happens if I give them up for a bit. Good luck giving up the caffiene.

          2. soaked lima, navy, pinto & kidney beans are all good sources of iron in case you want a legume alternative to lentils. i'm sure you already know this, but avoid soy - the phytoestrogens aren't good for someone with compromised thyroid function, and the phytic acid will bind iron. and go easy on the cruciferous veggies, they can suppress thyroid function too. (i speak from experience, i actually have non-Hashimoto's hypothyroidism.)

            blackstrap molasses, prune juice, and dried apricots are all good sources of iron as well.

            and i need to clarify a bit of misinformation floating around in this thread. caffeine doesn't interfere with iron absorption. coffee beans & tea leaves (and cocoa and red wine) contain antioxidants called polyphenols, and it's those substances that inhibit iron absorption. also, it's not necessary to eliminate those things from your diet completely. they don't impact iron absorption when consumed more than an hour before iron-rich foods or supplements. just don't drink coffee, tea or wine with your meal or within one hour *after* you eat - that will reduce absorption by as much as 70%.

            as for nuts, they're actually fine in moderation as long as you soak or sprout them to deactivate the phytic acid (though macadamias don't require soaking).

            one final thought - be sure to look out for hidden sources of gluten in your diet. if your villi have atrophied at all from gluten consumption, the portion of your intestine responsible for iron absorption may be damaged. not sure if that's contributing to your anemia, but i was anemic for pretty much my entire life even though i took supplements, ate iron-rich foods, and did everything i was supposed to. when i got my Celiac diagnosis at age 35 and cut all gluten out of my diet, within about 9 months my iron levels were testing in a normal range for the first time since i was a little kid.

            3 Replies
            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Thank you for explaining all this in detail. I understand the basics, but am constantly trying to get to the root of why so I'm making intelligent choices. Having to separate the thyroid meds and the iron supplements/consumption by at least 4 hours raised a lot of questions, and this cleared some up. I am improving everyday -- hopefully this is the last radical dietary change I will need.

              1. re: maxie

                it's great to hear that you're improving! as i mentioned, between my Celiac, thyroid disease, and history of anemia, i absolutely understand what you're dealing with, so i'm happy to help however i can.

                one other thing i should mention - though i did say things like coffee, tea & red wine are okay when consumed well before iron-rich foods & supps, be sure to also avoid them within an hour on either side of taking your thyroid meds - they'll inhibit absorption of those as well. it really is a juggling act!

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Yes, it's like my own personal food circus. I would say it gets old, but the target just seems to keep moving. Hopefully this is the last thing to get in check. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge in a useful and intelligent way.