Resources and recommendations to help you shop when trying to avoid iron-enriched foods and iron-containing cookware
When writing Cooking for Hemochromatosis I found that choosing the correct products at the grocery store was just as important (and sometimes just as challenging!) as simply understanding how iron in food affects iron overload and hemochromatosis. As anyone who has read my book knows, the role that iron-enriched foods plays in the overall iron absorbed from the diet may be significant and is something important to pay attention to when shopping and purchasing food.
This resource list is a constantly-evolving list of brands and products that do not contain enriched iron, or that are for one reason or another helpful in a hemochromatosis diet. Throughout the book Cooking for Hemochromatosis you’ll find references to this webpage, and here’s where I suggest specific ingredients for some of my recipes. When I note a page number below, it’s referring back to the page in the book.
We do not receive any commissions or payment for recommending these products. None of the links included below are "affiliate links" so you can shop knowing that these recommendations are made freely with no financial incentive on our part!
Do you have a product or resource that you think belongs on this list? Share what you’ve found by filling out a quick questionnaire here. I’ll be periodically adding reader submissions after I’ve looked them over and confirmed that they meet the criteria as set out by my book.
Happy cooking and eating!
Dr. Kristina Lewis
The following list of breakfast cereals meet the criteria as described in the book, Cooking for Hemochromatosis. Many conventional breakfast cereals are enriched with iron, stripped of protective phytates, and may contain other ingredients not recommended with iron overload.
Most of these links go to the manufacturer’s official website for detailed product information. Feel free to purchase these products directly from the manufacturer, from your local grocery store, or from any other preferred retailer.
Any of these would work in the Crispy Pork Chop recipe, page 211 of Cooking for Hemochromatosis:
Bob’s Red Mill is famous for their oats, and they have so many types it’s hard to pick a favorite!
Never enriched, all non-GMO, many organic, and even their “quick cooking” versions are still whole grain with none of the phytate-rich bran removed.
See all varieties here: Bob's Red Mill Oatmeal
Eden Organic Pasta
All pasta made by this company is either from the whole grain or from unbleached, non-enriched flour.
Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta
This is a favorite at my house. All the pasta is organic and made with whole-grain brown rice without any enriched flour added. Don’t be turned off by their website as their products are really great.
The topic of safe flours and how to identify safe products and brands takes up too many pages and chapters in my cookbook to be able to simply summarize here. If you’ve read the book and are looking for the products referenced in my recipes, here’s where you will find some of the brands I used.
(In Appendix 4 of Cooking for Hemochromatosis, I mention three national brands that provide nonenriched versions of all-purpose flour. Since that time, the version from Hodgson Mill seems to have been discontinued, leaving two remaining options. If you know of any others, please use this form and let me know!)
“Our Organic All-Purpose Flour is a premium baking flour freshly milled from certified organic, hard red wheat. You can use this high quality wheat flour product for all manner of baked goods, including food like yeast breads, quick breads, biscuits, muffins, cookies and cakes. It’s unbleached and unenriched, with no potassium bromate added.” (emphasis added)
Bob’s Red Mill Organic Unbleached White All Purpose Flour
“Milled from 100% organic hard red winter and spring wheats, this jack-of-all-trades flour is malted; unenriched; and will strengthen breads, bake up lofty biscuits, and turn out delicately crumbed cakes. We rely on it for all of our baking needs, and it never lets us down.” (emphasis added. Note that it’s malted, so depending on what your purpose in baking is, the Bob’s Red Mill option might be better).
*Do note that many other King Arthur products do tend to have added iron (notably, they love to proudly add iron to their gluten-free flour products).
King Arthur Organic All-Purpose Flour
As described in Cooking for Hemochromatosis, there can be creative uses of these products in lowering iron in the diet. Refer to chapters 7 and 8 for more details.
In Chapter 10, “Stocking the Hemochromatosis Kitchen,” I discuss convenience foods and grab-and-go snacks that can be incorporated into a hemochromatosis eating plan. Consider this section a hodge-podge of additional products that you may wish to consume at times.
Asian Best Brand, “Bahn Trang Deo Thuong Hang” is what I used making my recipe. It’s difficult to find an online link to share; I found it at my local Asian market.
Used in Asian Spring Rolls recipe on page 149 of Cooking for Hemochromatosis.
The kitchen equipment and methods used to prepare food can sometimes affect iron, either by changing the chemical structure of the food or by leeching iron from the cooking device itself.
It is well known that cooking with cast iron will increase the iron in your food and that cast iron should not be used regularly in a hemochromatosis kitchen.
For example, a 1986 study was conducted to find out just how much the levels of iron in food changed if it was cooked in cast iron. The results were significant. Nearly every food tested had increased levels of iron after they were prepared compared to before. The study found that, “Most of the foods (90%) contained significantly more iron when cooked in iron utensils than when cooked in non-iron utensils.” (Helen C. Brittin and Cheryl E. Nossaman "Iron content of food cooked in iron utensils," Journal of the American Dietetic Association 86, no. 7 (1986): 897-901.)
If you are looking for what is least likely to affect iron, a few pots and pans that will not leach any iron at all include the following:
Ceramic or stoneware kitchen cookware contain no metals (including iron), can be used on the stove and in the oven, heat evenly, and don’t have to be seasoned. The trick is to make sure you’re getting 100 percent ceramic, as some ceramic brands will add toxic nonstick coatings to their products. Make sure to purchase these pots and pans from a reputable dealer.
Recommendations for pure ceramic/stoneware:
A second category of cookware beneficial in low-iron cooking is enameled cast-iron. This family of cookware allows you to have the benefits of cast iron without the iron. A safe enamel coating protects your foods from touching the iron of the pan. Enameled cast iron is also versatile and can be used on the stove and in the oven, is easy to clean, and doesn’t have to be seasoned. Be careful not to chip the enamel coating.
A famous example of enameled cookware is a Dutch oven (also called a French oven).
Recommended brands for high-quality enameled cookware:
Corningware ® has an interesting line called Visions ® —these see-through glass dishes are stove-, oven-, microwave-, and broiler-safe. Corningware ® Visions ® products are supposed to be completely free of all metals.
Hemochromatosis Help Diet Book
Evidence-based analysis of dietary, nutritional and herbal remedies for iron overload.
Hemochromatosis Help Cookbook
A complete guidebook to cooking for hemochromatosis with over 100 delicious and family-friendly recipes.
Hemochromatosis Help Supplements
Safe, effective, and unique supplements for individuals with hemochromatosis, handpicked by a Naturopathic Doctor.
Dr. Kristina Lewis is a naturopathic physician in practice with her husband, Dr. Eric Lewis, in Asheville, North Carolina. When her husband discovered he had hereditary hemochromatosis and founded the website HemochromatosisHelp.com, she became very involved in researching, writing, and teaching about this condition both as a health-care practitioner and as a concerned wife.
After the publication of Dr. Eric’s book, Holistic Health for Hemochromatosis, it became clear that a companion guide with recipes and cooking instruction was what the readers of Hemochromatosis Help needed next. As someone who naturally loves to cook and who finds inventing tasty and healthy recipes a fun challenge, Dr. Kristina decided to take on the challenge of creating a cookbook for hemochromatosis from a holistic perspective. Little did she realize at the time what an involved project this would become! More than two years and countless hours later, she is excited to finally share her recipe inspirations with the world in Cooking for Hemochromatosis.
Dr. Kristina Lewis is an honors graduate holding a doctorate in naturopathic medicine from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona. In her private practice she works with women on a wide range of health issues, including iron overload. She and Dr. Eric have two young children and she is fully enjoying being a mother as well as a doctor!