Hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein found in the red blood cells, renders the red color to your blood. It is responsible for carrying oxygen and transporting it to all the parts of the body. In addition to transporting oxygen, it carries carbon dioxide away from the cells and to the lungs for expulsion. Basically, hemoglobin is a very important protein, crucial for leading a healthy life.
What happens when your hemoglobin is low?
A drop in the level of hemoglobin can make it difficult for the body organs to get enough oxygen, which can lead to a plethora of symptoms including fatigue, dizziness, headaches, shortness of breath, fast heart rate, pale skin, etc. Decreased levels of hemoglobin in blood is called anemia.
Get a Complete Blood Count (CBC) Test and know if you could have anemia.
Low hemoglobin level is quite common in India, especially in women. The normal level of hemoglobin required for adult men is around 14 to 18 g/dL and for adult women it’s 12 to 16 g/dL. Anything less than these levels can result in anemia.
It is vitally important that adequate measures are taken to improve your hemoglobin levels. Your diet can play a significant role in the synthesis of hemoglobin and maintain an optimum level of hemoglobin.
Listed below are top food items that help you increase your hemoglobin levels:
Beetroot is enriched with natural iron, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, and vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12 and C. The wealth of nutrients in this wondrous vegetable helps in increasing the hemoglobin count and regeneration of red blood cells. It can be consumed raw as salad or in the cooked form. Alternatively, you can even blend it and prepare a glass of beetroot juice.
2. Moringa Leaves:
Moringa leaves are rich in minerals like zinc, iron, copper, magnesium, vitamin A, B and C. Take a few finely chopped moringa leaves and make a paste, add a teaspoon of jaggery powder and blend well. Consume this churna regularly along with the breakfast to improve your hemoglobin level and red blood cells count.
3. Green Leafy Vegetables:
Green vegetables like spinach, mustard greens, celery, and broccoli are rich vegetarian sources of iron. It is advised to have cooked spinach as raw leaves contain oxalic acid which may prevent the absorption of iron in the body. This leafy green vegetable is a natural source of vitamin B12, folic acid, and other vital nutrients, and you should make it a staple part of your daily platter if you want to increase your hemoglobin.
Broccoli is a rich source of iron and B-complex vitamin folic acid, and also contains a healthy amount of other essential nutrients like magnesium, vitamin A and C. Moreover, green veggies are low in calories and are good sources of dietary fiber. Hence, they can also help you in weight loss and improve digestion.
4. Dates, Raisins & Figs:
Dates and raisins offer a combination of iron and Vitamin C. Figs, on the other hand, are packed with the goodness of iron, magnesium, vitamin A and folate. Consuming a handful of dried figs and raisins and two or three dates in the morning can provide you with instant energy and improve your hemoglobin levels. It is also recommended to have fig milk at bedtime twice a week to increase hemoglobin levels. Diabetics should take such dry fruits in moderation only.
5. Sesame Seeds:
Eating black sesame seeds is another great way of increasing your iron intake as they are loaded with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium and vitamin B6, E and folate. You can soak them in some water and leave it overnight before consuming it the next morning. Mix about 1 tablespoon of dry roasted black sesame seeds with a teaspoon of honey and roll into a ball. Consume this nutritious ladoo regularly to boost your iron levels. You can sprinkle some over your cereal or oatmeal or even yogurts and fruit salads.
Other tips to increase your hemoglobin levels at home:
- Rely on Fruits: Apricots, apples, grapes, bananas, pomegranates and watermelons play a very important role in improving hemoglobin count. Apples are a delicious and suitable option when it comes to boosting hemoglobin levels as they’re one of the most iron-rich fruits out there. Pomegranate is a rich source of both iron and calcium along with protein and fiber. Its nutritional value makes it a perfect source for people with low levels of hemoglobin. Add these fruits to your bowl of cereal or oatmeal, or add them to your salads for a little sweetness, or put them in your milkshakes, smoothies or fruit juices.
- Consume food cooked in iron utensils: This is because an iron utensil fortifies your food with iron, making it potent for people suffering from low hemoglobin levels.
- Take help of Vitamin C Rich Foods: Include vitamin C in your diet as it helps your body to absorb iron more efficiently. Eat more gooseberry, oranges, lemon, sweet lime, strawberries, bell peppers, tomatoes, grapefruits, berries, as they are super rich in vitamin C. Make it a habit of consuming these natural sources of Vitamin C regularly.
- Avoid iron blockers: Cut down eating foods that hinder iron absorption in your body, especially if you have a low haemoglobin count. Limit the intake of foods rich in polyphenols, tannins, phytates and oxalic acid such as tea, coffee, cocoa, soy products, wine, beer, cola and aerated drinks.
- Opt for moderate to high intensity workouts: When you exercise, your body produces more hemoglobin to meet the increasing demand for oxygen throughout the body.
- Add supplements when needed: Some cases of low hemoglobin count can’t be fixed through diet alone. You may need to take oral iron supplements or additional treatments. Before you start taking an iron supplement, consult your doctor.
Make sure to get your hemoglobin levels tested on a timely basis. This helps detect any lower levels well in advance and take appropriate measures.