Healthy Living


Iron is a mineral nutrient found in every cell in your body that helps you function normally. It’s also a vital part of hemoglobin, which is an ironcontaining protein in red blood cells. While hemoglobin levels vary from person to person, men usually have higher levels than women.


→ helping build red blood cells
→ helping cells work in your body
→ carrying oxygen from your lungs to every cell in your body
→ helping you concentrate


When you donate blood, the removal of red blood cells also removes iron. To make new blood cells, you use iron already stored in your body, or iron in the food you eat or supplements you take.

All blood donors undergo hemoglobin screening before each donation, and will be deferred for 56 days if they do not meet the regulatory requirement for blood donation. For both men and women, the minimum acceptable hemoglobin level is 125 grams per litre.

The fingerstick test we perform on all donors during screening measures hemoglobin level, but not the level of iron stored in the body. You can have normal hemoglobin but low iron stores. That’s where multivitamins with iron and an iron-rich diet can help.


Iron comes in two forms:

1. Heme iron is easily absorbed by your body. Foods with heme iron include beef, lamb, pork, liver, veal, chicken, turkey (the dark meat has more iron), fish and seafood.

2. Non-heme iron is absorbed less readily. Foods with non-heme iron include breakfast cereals fortified with iron, whole grain and enriched breads and pasta, lentils, dried peas and beans, tofu, seeds and nuts (pumpkin, sesame or peanut), dried fruit (particularly raisins and apricots), dark green, leafy vegetables, and eggs.


To get the most out of an iron-rich meal, include foods rich in vitamin C. For example, include fresh fruit and vegetables, or drinks such as fresh orange juice. Avoid drinking tea or coffee just before, after or with meals as caffeine may reduce the absorption of iron from foods.

You may not feel the immediate benefits of changing to a more iron-rich diet because it takes a few weeks for your body to react to increased iron. If you’re looking to give your iron stores a lift, try the following iron-rich recipes.

Pineapple Fried Rice with Tofu


  • 1 (8 ounce) can crushed
  • pineapple with juice
  • 4 c water
  • 2 c white rice
  • 1 tbsp peanut or walnut oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 1 (12 ounce) package tofu, diced
  • ¾ cup chopped mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup diced carrots


  1. Open can of crushed pineapple and drain juice into a cup.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the liquid from the can of crushed pineapple with 3 cups water, bring to a boil. Add rice. Bring mixture to boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 25 to 30 minutes or until rice is tender.
  3. In a non-stick wok heat the 1 tablespoon walnut or peanut oil. Add the eggs and cook without stirring, until set. Slide eggs out of the wok to a plate – cut into short, narrow strips. In the same wok, heat the sesame oil and stir fry the tofu with the mushrooms, soy sauce, green onions, and carrots for about 4 minutes. Stir in cooked rice, pineapple, and egg strips. Heat until everything is heated through.

Kale Chips


  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 pinch sea salt, to taste


  1. Preheat an oven to 300°F (150°C).
  2. Cut away inner ribs from each kale leaf and discard; tear the leaves into pieces of uniform size. (I made my pieces about the size of a small potato chip.) Wash torn kale pieces and spin dry in a salad spinner or dry with paper towels until they’re very dry.
  3. Put the kale pieces into a large resealable bag (or use a bowl if you don’t mind getting your hands oily). Add about half the olive oil; seal and squeeze the bag so the oil gets distributed evenly on the kale pieces. Add the remaining oil and squeeze the bag more, until all kale pieces are evenly coated with oil and “massaged.” Sprinkle the vinegar over the kale leaves, reseal the bag, and shake to spread the vinegar evenly over the leaves. Spread the leaves evenly onto a baking sheet.
  4. Roast in the preheated oven until mostly crisp, about 35 minutes. Season with salt and serve immediately.