Kitchen Nutrition Milk Plus

You say you're not a milk drinker? Just whisk one or two ingredients, such as those below, with one cup of milk-cold or hot, fat-free or whole-and give it a refreshing new flavor! (And enjoy the added benefits of 300 milligrams of calcium from a cup of milk.)

  • V2 cup of fresh or frozen pureed berries: strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons of fruit juice concentrate or 1 pureed peach and V2 teaspoon of flavor extract
  • V4 teaspoon of almond, anise, hazelnut, maple, or vanilla extract. Or try a flavored oil, perhaps cinnamon or peppermint: use 2 drops of flavored oil in place of V4 teaspoon of extract.
  • V2 cup of cranberry juice cocktail and a small scoop of low-fat vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of creamy peanut butter and 2 tablespoons of chocolate syrup ways to add calcium-rich foods in food preparation, see "Calcium Boosters " in chapter 13.
  • Look for calcium-rich foods in the grocery store. Check the Nutrition Facts on food labels, listing the calcium in a single label serving. The amount is given as the % Daily Value, which approximates the percentage of your day's calcium need supplied by one label serving of that food.
  • Try high-calcium milk. If milk is fortified with extra calcium, you'll find the amount per serving (perhaps 500 milligrams in one cup of milk) listed in the Nutrition Facts on the label.

Descriptions on food labels help you identify non-dairy foods that are good calcium sources. Look for "calcium-rich," "good source of calcium," and "more calcium." See "Label Lingo: Vitamins and Minerals" earlier in this chapter for what these descriptions mean.

Note: If you frequently have gas, cramping, and bloating after consuming milk and milk products, you may be lactose-intolerant. For ways to include calcium-rich foods in your meals and snacks, see "Lactose Intolerance: A Matter of Degree" in chapter 21.

people at these ages and stages of life, too, when the dietary need for iron is highest. In fact, it's hard to get enough without taking an iron supplement.

The Dietary Guidelines advise: For women of childbearing age or who may become pregnant, eat foods high in heme iron and/or consume iron-rich plant foods or iron-fortified foods with an enhancer of iron absorption, such as vitamin C-rich foods.

With menopause, iron needs drop. That's the time to stop taking an iron supplement, especially for women at risk for hemochromatosis, a genetic disorder that results in high levels of stored iron in the body. Iron-rich foods can supply as much as most postmenopausal women need. See the earlier discussion of iron in this chapter for a brief explanation of hemochromatosis.

Iron in Foods: Heme vs. Nonheme

If iron is abundant, why don't many of us "pump enough iron" from food? Iron comes from a wide variety of foods—of both animal and plant origin. Most of the iron from meat, poultry, and fish is heme iron. That name comes from the way it's carried in food—as part of the hemoglobin and myoglobin (similar to hemoglobin in humans) in animal tissue. Foods of plant origin contain only nonheme iron. And egg yolks have mostly nonheme iron.

The deep-red color of animal muscle comes from hemoglobin. The darker the color, the higher the content of heme iron. For example, beef liver, which is redder than roast beef, has more iron. And dark turkey meat has more heme iron than the light meat.

Counting Up Iron

This chart shows the amount of total iron in food. But remember, iron from most animal sources (heme iron) usually is better absorbed than iron from plant sources of food (nonheme iron).

Food Iron (mg)

Sources of Mostly Heme Iron

Lean ground beef, broiled (3 oz.) 2.5 Skinless chicken, roasted dark meat (3 oz.) 1.1 Skinless chicken, roasted white meat (3 oz.) 0.9

Sources of Nonheme Iron

Fortified breakfast cereal (1 cup)* 4.5-18

Pumpkin seed kernels (1 oz.) 4.2

Soybean nuts (V2 cup) 3.4

Blackstrap molasses (1 tbsp.) 3.2

Spinach, boiled (V2 cup) 3.2

Red kidney beans, cooked (V2 cup) 2.6

Lima beans, cooked (V2 cup) 2.2

To help reduce iron-deficiency anemia, many foods on today's supermarket shelves are enriched or fortified with iron: iron-enriched flour (also used in baked goods and pasta) and iron-fortified breakfast cereals.

Food Iron (mg)

Sources of Nonheme Iron (continued)

Enriched rice, cooked (V2 cup) 1.4

Whole-wheat bread (1 slice) 0.9 White bread made with enriched refined flour (1 slice) 0.9

Raisins, seedless (V4 cup) 0.8

Green beans, cooked (V2 cup) 0.6

Zucchini, cooked (V2 cup) 0.3

Cranberry juice cocktail (3/4 cup) 0.2

Unenriched rice, cooked (V2 cup) 0.2

*The amount varies. Read the Nutrition Facts on food labels.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, 2005. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 18.

What makes this difference nutritionally significant? First, consider that iron in food isn't absorbed efficiently. Much of the iron you consume never gets absorbed into your bloodstream. (Fortunately, the RDAs take this fact into account.) The amount of iron your body absorbs depends on several factors: among them, how much iron you consume and in what form (heme or nonheme); other nutrients in the meal or snack that can enhance or hinder its absorption; and how much iron your body has stored already. In fact, the bioavailability of iron in a mixed U.S. diet (animal-and plant-based foods) is about 18 percent; in a vegetarian diet, about 10 percent.

Heme iron is absorbed into your body more readily than nonheme iron. Depending on how much you already have stored, 15 to 35 percent of heme iron gets absorbed. That's good news.

Nonheme iron is a different story. Only 2 to 20 percent of nonheme iron gets absorbed. Even though

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