Health Benefits of Cast Iron Cooking
Cooking in cast iron is known to greatly increase the dietary source of iron. This is especially true when cooking foods high in acid, such as tomato based sauces. There is less of an effect for foods that are quickly fried in the skillet. As you might expect frequent stirring of food will also increase the amount of iron. Cooking in cast iron can often provide all of this element that a body needs.
The body needs iron because it is used in the blood. It is what carries oxygen from the lungs via the bloodstream to the rest of the body. It has been estimated that only 65 - 70% of Americans get enough iron. Low iron means that the blood does not efficiently circulate oxygen, causing a feeling of tiredness and sometimes head-aches. Extreme iron deficiency can cause anemia. Women are more prone to iron deficiency because of the loss of blood through menstruation.
Because iron can be lost through perspiration, athletes can also be subject to low iron. The excessive consumption of tea or coffee can inhibit the absorption of iron by the body.
It is possible to consume too much iron. Toxicity levels begin at about 45 milligrams per day. On an average diet it is highly unlikely that cooking with cast iron will bring a person to this level. Most people who achieve toxicity over-dose on iron supplements. Symptoms of too much iron are nausea, vomiting, damage to the lining of the intestinal tract, shock, and liver failure.
It should be noted that iron is stored in the body, so it can accumulate over time. The body has a very efficient system for recycling the old iron in discarded blood cells. If you have iron deficiency problems or possibly iron toxicity problems you should let your doctor know if you do use cast iron in your cooking and the extent in which it is used. It is well to reiterate that low iron is more likely to be a problem and cast iron cooking can be an inexpensive and satisfying way to solve this problem. If you do use cast iron consult your doctor before taking any other iron supplements.
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