Do you squeeze lemon over your pulses?

Image.phpOne of my friends asked me to write something
about eating certain foods together.  I
was puzzled because the only time I ever recommend food combinations is for
some diabetic patients who require a protein with their carbohydrate.   I thought my friend was talking about a diet
that was popular in the 80’s.  Sometimes
patients ask me if they are eating the right food combinations and the question
stems from that diet. I remember doing a research paper on this when I was a
student.  The main premise was you could
only eat fruits in the morning and then no fruits after that.  Protein and carbohydrates had to be eaten separately
as well.  Supposedly, if one ate in this
manner one could lose weight.  Never mind
that is completely unhealthy.  So when my
buddy asked me to write about the right food combinations I thought he was just
bugging me.   It turns out he was a bit
confused.  He was remembering something I
told him about a food combination that maximizes the absorption of iron.  Sometimes I forget that nutrition can be bit
tricky for people. 

There are 2 types
iron.   The first is heme iron which
is found in animal products like red meat and chicken.  The second type is called non-heme iron and
it is found in plant based foods like red kidney beans and lentils.  Heme iron is very easily absorbed by the
body.  If you are not a vegetarian and
don’t have any underlying health conditions that would prevent you from
absorbing iron, then you are probably not deficient in this mineral.  However, if you are a vegetarian (eat no
meat, poultry, fish or eggs) then you need to maximize your iron
absorption.  The best way to do this is
to get in the habit of using ascorbic acid with your cooking.  Ascorbic acid is vitamin C which can be found
in many fruits and vegetables including citrus fruits.  What you can do is add a serious squeeze of
lemon juice to your recipes.  Make
homemade refried beans with a can of unsalted tomatoes.  Use diced red peppers in your lentil
salad.  Eat fortified iron cereal like
Cream of Wheat with orange wedges. 

Incidentally, my
friend is a carnivorous meat lover who probably doesn’t need any heme top up!