Feeling too cold? An iron-rich diet is the answer

Nidhi Tayal
Nidhi TayalDec 20, 2015 | 17:00

Feeling too cold? An iron-rich diet is the answer

As the nip in the air graduates to bone-ripping chill, no matter how much you layer up or hold onto that hot cuppa, one question that hounds many a folk is: why do I feel cold more than anybody I know?Chances are you are iron-deficient or anaemic.

Iron deficiency makes one's body more prone to feel the cold.

How is that possible?


Well, to put it simply, we already know how important oxygen is for the tissues, muscles and organs to function and sustain. Blood transports oxygen to all parts of the body and it is the iron inside the red blood cells that aids in binding this oxygen.

Thus, lower the amount of iron, lesser the availability of oxygen in the body and more you feel the chill.

Women are more prone to being anaemic because they also lose a lot of iron owing to blood loss during their menstrual cycle.

Can we get iron naturally?

Of course we can. Winter is the best season to acquire natural iron. Look around you; colourful vegetables and fruits adorning the market place are your armour against the cold.

Here are five iron-rich, superfoods easily available in winters that will boost immunity, keep you warm and also provide other minerals and vitamins without burning a big hole in your pocket.

1. Gur or jaggery: It is a rich source of iron. It not only satiates that sweet tooth but also relieves muscular cramps, boosts immunity big time, apart from being an excellent antacid, natural expectorant to fight cough and an effective detoxifier. Women must include jaggery in their diet to fight off a necessary evil - PMS (premenstrual syndrome), and at the same time relieving them from bloating and water retention by releasing feel good endorphins.


So ditch that refined sugar-laden good-for-nothing doughnut and reach for gur ki chikki to make this winter sweet.

2. Dates or khajoor: My personal favourite dessert, I can go on and on about its goodness. Dates are an excellent source of iron, are rich in dietary fibre which helps to relieve constipation, prevent the bad cholesterol or LDL from piling up, are rich in potassium, treats water retention, help in regulating heart rate and blood pressure.

Dates also comprise vitamin A and K, the latter being important to aid blood coagulation. Dates also provide tryptophan - an amino acid which is an antioxidant.


Believe me this "date" can never go wrong...

3. Lotus stem or kamal kakdi: A vegetable that's available rampantly this season, it can be cooked in various forms or pickled. It is rich in iron which boosts heamoglobin and myoglobin production. Lotus stem is a good source of calcium and fibre as well. Even dried lotus stem retains all its nutritional wonders.


Request daadi maa to make "bhen ki sabzi" for you or use lotus stem as a new pizza topping and she will be elated. Better still, dole out your own recipes but eat lotus stem to feel warm and glow from within these winters.


4. Beetroot or chukander: Both leaves and roots of beetroot can be eaten in variety of forms. Beetroot can be eaten raw, as salad, as garnishes, as fillings, cooked as subzi or cooked anyhow. It is high in iron and folic acid (deadly combo of iron-folate to beat anaemia).

Beetroots, surprisingly, contain antioxidants like betaine and magnesium as well. Beetroots also aids in treating fevers, constipation, skin problems and also dementia. Diabetics, however, should eat beetroots with caution.


In short, eat beet to beat anemia.

5. Amla or Indian gooseberry: It has a perfect combination of iron and vitamin C. Thus amla should be eaten raw to retain its antioxidant property. Remember, vitamin C is highly heat-sensitive and looses its antioxidant power if heated.

Amla also balances stomach acid and fortifies liver-enhancing food absorption and regulates elimination of cancer-causing free radicals. Not only that, research proves amla improves sex life and has sperm-enhancing properties. If you want beautiful and healthy eyes, skin and hair... amla is the answer.

This glossy green power-packed superfood holds the tagline "chota packet, bada dhamaka" true.


6. Say no to tea/coffee: Tea and coffee hinder iron absorption and increases the possibility of releasing cancer-causing free radicals owing to the presence of tannins.


So what's the best alternative? Try hot soups. They not only keep you warm but also soothe your throat, keeps you full and improves iron availability with better absorption. With all this gyan, another fact that everyone must follow is that it is necessary to complement iron intake with a liberal dose of vitamin C to help the body absorb and utilise it.

So, if you intend to circumvent your iron insufficiency/deficiency through supplementation, do ingest it with a rich source of vitamin C like nimbu shikanji or orange juice. Otherwise, the iron will get wasted and may lead to digestive troubles.

Summing it up, in case you are feeling abnormally cold and do not have thyroid gland dysfunctions, diabetes or SAD (seasonal affective disorder) in which people feel cold and depressed owing to a lack of exposure to the sun for long hours), please check your haemoglobin levels. A simple remedy of increased iron intake might help you face winters better.

Add iron-rich food to your daily diet to make this winter sumptuous. It's your armour against the cold weather.

Last updated: December 20, 2015 | 17:03
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