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  • Writer's pictureThe Dietitian

Your Pans Can Be Nutritious Too

Iron is a mineral found in every living cell in the body. It is also what cast iron skillets are made of, but I’ll get to that in a little bit. Iron is best known for its role in blood, as it works to carry oxygen in the blood, carrying the crucial gas throughout the body. Iron is also important for energy metabolism, temperature regulation, cognitive (thinking) development and immune functions. Iron deficiency is the most common trace mineral deficiency in North America. A deficiency is commonly known as iron deficiency anemia which leads to fatigue and difficulty concentrating as well as compromises in immune function.

Iron in foods is most readily absorbed from animal sources as heme iron. It can also be aborbed from plant sources as non heme iron, it just is a little more difficult. But if you add a source of Vitamin C to your meal the non heme iron becomes more readily absorbed. That’s why if you are vegetarian or limit the amount of animal foods you eat, it is best to include sources of Vitamin C (readily available in fruits and vegetables) with your meals to increase your iron intake.

Another way is to cook with Cast Iron. A few days ago I posted a recipe for a frittata. The frittata itself is full of vitamins, minerals and protein, but the pan I used to cook the frittata also lends a hand to a healthful diet. Cast iron pans transfer some of the mineral to the foods that are cooked in them, giving us a little extra boost of iron. Who knew cast iron pans aren’t just for knocking bad guys out? (I’ve watched Tangled with my children and nieces too many times).

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