Vegetables For Anemia

  • Sara Moheb Foad BPharm, Clinical Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Cairo University, Egypt
  • Tanvi Shukla Master of Pharmacy - MPHARM, Nirma University

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Do you know that there are a lot of diseases that can be managed with modification in your diet? Do you know the benefits of vegetables in managing diseases like anemia? Do you know the right way to cook and eat foods to take the maximum benefits from the nutrients in the food? Here at Klarity, we will provide you with answers to all questions in your minds, therefore keep reading.

What is anemia?

Anemia is a disease that occurs when our body is no longer able to produce enough healthy red blood cells, which means a decreased number of healthy cells to carry oxygen through our organs, which leads to low energy and the inability to do our daily activities. Make our body feel tired, exhausted, dizzy, headache, pale skin, increased heartbeats, and cold in hands and feet all the time.

What are the types of anemia? 

Anemia caused due to one of three reasons:

  • Production of hemoglobin and red blood cells is not enough 
  • Loss of blood is faster than the production of blood components
  • The body destroys its blood cells, leading to anemia

The causes drop under categories according to the causes of, the categories as follows:

  • Nutritional anemia 
  • Inherited anemia
  • Anemia due to the presence of abnormal red blood cells

This article will talk about types of anemia due to nutritional deficiency and in this point, we have three types:

Iron deficiency anemia

It is caused by the decreased amount of iron, which is essential to make hemoglobin to carry oxygen throughout our body.

Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia

It is caused by autoimmune disease caused by decreased absorption of vitamin B12 to leads to the development of what is called pernicious anemia or vitamin B12 deficiency anemia.

Megaloblastic anemia

In this type, anemia results from not enough intake of vitamin B12 or vitamin 9 (folate) from food.

Symptoms and complications of anemia 

In this disease, symptoms may be mild and can be treated with only a lifestyle change, but sometimes it becomes worse and life-threatening.

If symptoms of anemia are not treated well, it may lead to complications like

  • Severe tiredness: which makes the patient can’t do any activity in life
  • Pregnancy complications: a decrease in folate during pregnancy may lead to preterm babies
  • Heart problems: because oxygen carried by hemoglobin decrease so heart increase its pump to try to reach this low amount of oxygen to all your organ which lead to the development of arrhythmias and after more long time will lead to heart failure
  • Death: Some types of anemia like sickle cell anemia are life-threatening conditions that may lead to death due to a huge amount of bleeding

Importance of diet in managing anemia

One of the important steps in managing anemia is to change your diet to a healthy one containing the required amount of iron and vitamins that are needed for red blood cells and hemoglobin production. 

Nutritional requirements for anemia

As we talked about above, food is important for treating anemia, and it is the first line of treatment in all cases from mild to severe because food contains several minerals and vitamins which are important in our case to prevent it from happening.

Role of iron in treating iron deficiency anemia

Iron is an essential element in hemoglobin production which is responsible for carrying oxygen throughout our body when its amount decreases in our body due to blood loss, decreased absorption of iron or decreased amount of intake in our diet leads to the development of iron deficiency anemia. Therefore, doctors treat that type of anemia with iron supplements and eat food rich in iron to increase its amount to help produce enough hemoglobin to overcome the anemia.

Importance of vitamin C for iron absorption

One of the reasons that we develop iron deficiency anemia is a decreased amount of iron due to decreased absorption because food iron contains two separate parts heme and nonheme, the heme part absorbs easily and is not affected by any other component found in the meal but nonheme not easily absorb and affect with other component found in the meal like tea and calcium and phosphate, hence we use ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to enhance absorption of a nonheme part as it forming chelation with ferric iron and help it to absorb from the intestine.

Other nutrients beneficial for anemia management

All types of anemia caused by nutritional deficiencies will need a healthy diet to manage anemia containing all minerals and vitamins like vitamins B12, C, folate, and iron. Therefore, patients should be educated about all food types that contain these essential elements to help them overcome the anemia without using medication, they need only change their diet and lifestyle.

Types of vegetables rich in iron8

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Beetroot
  • Legumes and beans
  • Spinach
  • Black salsify
  • Broccoli
  • Tomato
  • Potatoes
  • White mushrooms
  • Beet greens

Vegetables high in vitamin C

  • Citrus fruits and vegetables
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Kiwi
  • Strawberry
  • Tomatoes
  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower)

Other nutrient-rich vegetables

  • Vegetables containing folate: for example Spinach, liver, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts.
  • Vegetables with vitamin B12: for example spinach, beetroot, butternut squash, mushroom, and potato
  • Vegetables providing vitamin A: for example
  • Leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli)
  • orange and yellow vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and other winter squash, summer squash)
  • Tomatoes 
  • Red bell pepper
  • Cantaloupe
  • Mango
  • Beef liver
  • Fish oils
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fortified foods

Incorporating vegetables into an anemia-friendly diet

Meal planning tips

When you put a plan to change your diet for managing anemia you should depend on using a balanced diet that contains all the elements that contain vitamins, iron, and minerals that you need, but you need to take care of some tips like 

  • Don’t eat iron-containing food with beverages or tea or any material that decreases iron absorption.
  • Make a mix between food containing heme and non-heme.
  • Eat food containing iron, while others contain vitamin C to help in its absorption.
  • Eat foods rich in vitamin B12 and folate to help red blood cell production.
  • Cooking methods to maximize nutrient retention

Studies that do in this aspect show that a cooking method used to cook food can break the minerals and vitamins found in food which leads to not benefit from food elements, therefore, we should care about methods used in cooking like not using heat or boiling used instead grilling or roasting steaming stir-frying or microwaves all this method keep on minerals and vitamins inside the food with their benefits without losing them.

Food combinations to enhance iron absorption

We learn that food combinations are so important in the treatment of anemia as there are elements that affect each other, for example, care about what we eat with foods rich with iron, therefore, we should avoid foods that decrease its absorption and increase intake of foods containing vitamin C to help in its absorption. 


What foods help fight anemia?

Several food types can help prevent and manage anemia, such as

  • Red meat, pork, and poultry.
  • Seafood.
  • Beans.
  • Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach.
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots.
  • Iron-fortified cereals, bread and pasta.
  • Peas.

What fruits help anemia?

Many fruits can help to improve or prevent anemia, such as:

  • Avocado
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Raisins
  • Dates 
  • Figs
  • prunes dried apricots
  • dried peaches are iron-rich fruits.

Is Yogurt good for anemia?

No, you should avoid using it and any other dairy product of milk and cheese because they contain calcium, and that mineral decreases absorption of iron, you should take them at a different time from the iron supplement or any food rich with iron.

Can anemia eat bananas?

Yes, but it contains a low amount of iron, so will not be helpful to help manage our anemia.

Is egg good for anemia?

Yes, because it is a good source of iron and other vitamins that are essential for treating anemia 

What drink is high in iron?

Iron-rich drinks include apple juice, apricot nectar, beef broth, beet juice, cocoa using natural cocoa powder, “green” smoothies, orange juice, pea protein smoothies, prune juice, tomato juice, and spinach juice.

Does avocado have iron?

Yes, avocado is one of the fruits good to use in anemic patients as it contains 0.3 mg of iron in one-third of medium avocado Besides that it is else contains lots of minerals and vitamins that will be beneficial in anemia treatment and prevention.


In this article we talk about how you can change your diet to prevent and treat anemia, my dear reader. I hope this article helps you to understand the problem and gives you a healthy solution to use before medication so try to change your life habits and start a new way to live healthy and strong.


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Sara Moheb Foad

BPharm, Clinical Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Cairo University, Egypt

Sara graduated from the faculty of pharmacy at Cairo University and then earned a pharmacovigilance diploma after that found my passion in writing and translation, especially in the medical field so started taking courses in both of them. After that, I gained several years of experience in medical writing in both English and Arabic language.

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