Why Did Popeye Eat Spinach?


Popeye the sailor man didn’t chug down tins over tins of spinach for no reason – he needed an energy boost to fight off villains like his nemesis Bluto. Don’t be getting your hopes high though – that was just a cartoon. However, iron in the spinach DOES give your body a healthy boost, just not as rapidly.

Have you been feeling too fatigued lately? Do you look at your reflection in the mirror and wonder how and when you become so pale? Have you found yourself chatting with a pregnant woman who looks like she hasn’t slept for days? Statistics reveal that around 50% pregnant women and 30% women are deficient in iron. Iron-deficiency is the leading cause of the most common type of anemia – iron deficiency anemia. Anemia is when the body does not produce enough red blood cells. Iron is essentially required by the red blood cells in the blood because it is vital for the transport of oxygen to all cells in the body.

It’s not hard to get your hands on iron-rich foods. With everything so huddled up lately, people tend to wobble down anything easily accessible and simple to eat. You all know I’m talking about the junk food so temptingly advertised literally everywhere we look. With anemia becoming so widespread, it is essential we are aware of the foods that will help us prevent it.

There are two forms of dietary iron – heme and non-heme. Heme is derived from animal sources, whereas non-heme from plants.


All the meat-eaters out there- behold! Did you know that cooked liver (chicken, turkey, lamb) constitutes approximately 6.2-9.7 milligrams of iron? Duck, beef, ground meet, and lamb are all excellent sources of naturally occurring iron.


There’s also great news for all the meat-haters and sea-food lovers out there – oysters are full of iron. They contain 3.3-9.0 milligrams of iron. Octopus is also rich in iron. So are sardines, shrimps, clams and tuna. So, next time don’t shy away from a tuna sandwich at Subway. Enough of that chicken fajita already!

Whole Grains and Fortified Cereals

Have you been skipping breakfast a lot lately? If yes, then it’s time to stack some whole grains and cereals back in the kitchen. Oatmeal provides up to 6mg of iron, and cereal up to 4.3 milligrams. So, you know what to eat first thing in the morning if you want to have an energetic day ahead!

Leafy Vegetables

Dark leafy vegetables are especially good sources of iron, even better than meat. 1 cup of cooked spinach provides up to 6.4 milligrams of iron. Twelve spears of raw asparagus contains about 4.2 mg of iron, 1 up of turnip up to 3.4 mg. Try not to pick out the lettuce inside your sandwiches anymore. Help yourself develop a liking for it. As far as the vegan diet is concerned, they’re already doing it right. Way to go!


2 large eggs can provide 2mg of iron, and while it may not be all that iron-pumped, a little bit in every meal adds up over the course of the day. And, as we all know, when it comes to nutrients, there is very little eggs don’t have.

Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder

Dark chocolate is filled with more nutrients than you ever thought. A hundred gram bar of dark chocolate contains approximately 67% Iron, provided that it contains about 70-85% cocoa.


Tofu, also known as bean curd, is highly nutritious and loaded with iron. It is typically associated with Asian Cuisine but has a specialty of beautifully amalgamating with versatile flavors and seasonings and easing its way into any cuisine. 100 grams of tofu contains 30% Iron.

Prune Juice

Studies say, that if you are iron-deficient, prune juice is one way of dealing with the deficiency.  It is not only appetizing and a potent source of iron, but also contains Vitamin C which aids the process of iron absorption in the body.

Whole Wheat Pasta

Pasta is crammed with Iron, and other essential minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium. This should come as a glad tiding for the vegetarians since pasta should help curb their cravings for carbs while also maximizing iron intake.


Who doesn’t love strawberries? No better way to ramp up your daily intake of iron than eating fresh strawberries. A pint constitutes roughly 9% of the daily recommended value. Dip them in dark chocolate and double the iron dose!

The Takeaway

Iron is an important mineral that needs to be in the right quantities in the body so that you can function properly. It gives you a healthy boost and it is essential for the transport of oxygen throughout the body. Make sure you are getting your iron content from foods such as spinach, chicken and eggs, and whole wheat pasta. For those with a sweet tooth, you can dip strawberries in melted dark chocolate!

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