World Iron Awareness Week

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Cheers to Beef and Lamb Ambassador Chef Norka Mella Munoz for her dish: Trio of lamb with roasted beetroot, chimi churri, courgettes, salad leaves, fresh herbs [parsley, thyme, chives and rosemary], creamy polenta and jus.

Another reason to eat plenty of vegetables; serving vegetables with meat aids iron absorption.

This week is World Iron Awareness Week [WIAW] – a week dedicated to bringing much needed attention to iron deficiency – the world’s most prevalent nutrient deficiency. Now in its seventh year, 2020’s World Iron Awareness Week will focus on babies and toddlers whilst also sharing relevant information for all vulnerable groups including women, and providing practical information on the importance of healthy iron levels for everyone.

Iron is essential for healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body. Iron comes in two forms. Haem iron is found in meat, chicken and fish and is easily absorbed by the body. Non–Haem iron is found in plant foods such as vegetables, cereals, beans and lentils and is not as readily absorbed by the body. Eating vegetables containing vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron. Vitamin C can increase the absorption of non-haem iron by as much as 85%.

As well as helping the iron in food to be absorbed, vitamin C helps with tissue repair, supports a strong immune system to fight infection and helps health in general.

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Left panel – Good sources of vitamin C:
these vegetables contain over 25% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.
Right panel – Sources of vitamin C:
these vegetables contain over 10% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.
Source of Vitamin C data [based on serving size] – Plant and Food Research NZ, 2018

Visit – a website dedicated to everything iron related.  You can access information, infographics to share on social media, resources and some delicious iron-rich recipes using New Zealand beef, lamb, pork, venison and vegetables. There are tips on how to maximise iron absorption and the signs of iron deficiency and what you can do about it.

World Iron Awareness Week is supported by; Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Dietitians NZ, Massey University, NZ Blood, NZ Nutrition Foundation, New Zealand Pork, NZ Venison, Nutrition Society of New Zealand, Sprout, The Asian Network Incorporated, The New Zealand Institute of Food Science & Technology, Toi Tangata and

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Norka is Executive Chef at the Mangapapa hotel in Hawkes Bay and has access to great local produce to serve at Mangapapa, the former Wattie Homestead.

Norka trained as a chef in her native Santiago and worked there and in Pategonia before moving to New Zealand in 2002. She initially worked at the Auckland Showgrounds, then became head chef of a Catering company. Next stop was to the Auckland Hotel and Chef training school where she was a popular Chef/tutor. Norka moved to Hawkes Bay, was a sous chef for a year and then was promoted to Head Chef. Her cooking style is described as ‘Chiwi’ reflecting the fusion of local kiwi produce and her Chilean flair.

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