My mom, Darshna, has been asking about iron and iron absorption for the last week. We have a great relationship, but if I explain anything health related to her there is this natural conditioning that blocks my words out. Sort of like, "Health advice coming from my son?" So, I sent her this:
Some nutritionists and biochemists erroneously claim that raw isn't always best. Sometimes cooked food gives more nutrients for the buck, say Rutgers University and Taiwanese researchers at the 1999 annual American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco. They found that the body more easily absorbs iron from 37 of 48 vegetables tested when boiled, stir-fried, steamed, or grilled. Absorb-able iron in cabbage jumped from 6.7% to 27% with cooking. Iron in broccoli flowerets rose from 6% to 30%. What the researchers were apparently unaware of, is the potential harm of high inorganic iron absorption.
The Danger of Increased Inorganic Iron Absorption: The reason for iron becoming more absorb-able with cooking is that heat breaks down cell structure more completely than chewing alone. The ferrous iron (plant form) is changed to a more elemental inorganic form that is more easily absorb-able in the intestine. But the more elemental iron begins to overload the system since it is relatively difficult for the body to eliminate.