Food for thought

Iron cooking vessels help combat iron deficiency

Published: Saturday 30 November 2002

-- A new study adds to the evidence that iron cooking vessels are a cheap and effective way to fight iron deficiency -- the most common nutritional disorder in the world. The study was conducted in China by researchers from Cornell University, USA. Recent surveys have shown that in some poor, rural areas of northwest China, there is relatively low prevalence of anaemia. The scientists proposed that the regionally specific use of iron pots and also consumption of rice vinegar and fermented cabbage in large quantities might be responsible for the lower prevalence of iron deficiency. Vinegar and acidic fermented foods are known to increase the rate at which iron leaches from pots.

To test their idea, the scientists used either aluminium or iron vessels to cook three frequently consumed regional dishes: cabbage, cabbage with vinegar, and fermented cabbage -- a type of sauerkraut. The researchers found that with all three dishes, the amount of iron that the body could absorb was significantly higher when iron cooking vessels rather than aluminum ones were used. Moreover, the researchers also found that the available iron content was significantly higher in both the fermented and vinegar-cooked fresh cabbage than in the vinegar-free fresh cabbage.

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.