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Do Certain Vegetables Help Increase Red Blood Cells?

author image Sylvie Tremblay, MSc
Sylvie Tremblay holds a Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology and has years of experience as a cancer researcher and neuroscientist. Based in Ontario, Canada, Tremblay is an experienced journalist and blogger specializing in nutrition, fitness, lifestyle, health and biotechnology, as well as real estate, agriculture and clean tech.
Do Certain Vegetables Help Increase Red Blood Cells?
Baby spinach in a wooden bowl Photo Credit: Anton Ignatenco/iStock/Getty Images

Red blood cells, or erythrocytes, play an essential role in your health. The double concave disc-shaped cells contain proteins that bind oxygen from the air in your lungs, then store and transport that essential oxygen to other cells throughout your body. A number of nutrients, such as minerals and vitamins, help contribute to red blood cell growth and function. Eating vegetables containing erythrocyte-healthy vitamins can help nourish your red blood cells.

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Iron-Rich Vegetables

A grapefruit and grapefruit wedges on a table
A grapefruit and grapefruit wedges on a table Photo Credit: michalz86/iStock/Getty Images

Vegetables high in iron can benefit your red blood cells. lron makes up an essential part of your diet, and proves essential for the function of hemoglobin, a protein abundant within your red blood cells. Hemoglobin contains four iron molecules, and each of these irons can bind oxygen, carrying the oxygen into your tissues. Vegetables rich in iron include green leafy vegetables, beans and peas. The iron in plants, called non-heme iron, isn't as well absorbed as the iron from animal sources. To help maximize your iron intake, pair iron-rich veggies with animal sources of iron, such as meat, poultry or fish. Foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, also increase non-heme iron absorption.

Vitamin E-Rich Vegetables

Fresh ripe avocado
Fresh ripe avocado Photo Credit: svetlana foote/iStock/Getty Images

Consuming vegetables rich in vitamin E can also benefit your red blood cells, by helping to encourage proper cell turnover. Your body continually produces new red blood cells, while destroying older cells. Maintaining the balance between new cell growth and old cell destruction helps maintain constant red blood cell counts. Vitamin E helps contribute to new red blood cell production, while vitamin E deficiency increases the rate of red blood cell destruction, the Colorado State University website explains. Consuming leafy greens, sweet potatoes, asparagus and avocado all provide a source of vitamin E to help promote the health of your erythrocytes.

Folic Acid-Rich Vegetables

Bowl of of garbanzo beans with parsley garnish
Bowl of of garbanzo beans with parsley garnish Photo Credit: mathieu boivin/iStock/Getty Images

Vegetables that contain folic acid, or vitamin B-9, also help keep your red blood cells healthy. Folic acid promotes the growth and development of new red blood cells. People suffering from folic acid deficiency develop anemia because they cannot generate enough healthy and functional red blood cells cells to support their body's oxygen requirements, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Spinach, asparagus, lime and garbanzo beans, as well as lentils, all provide vegetable sources of folic acid to support your red blood cells.

Vitamin B-6-Rich Vegetables

Close up of lentils in a white bowl
Close up of lentils in a white bowl Photo Credit: studiocascella/iStock/Getty Images

Vegetables rich in vitamin B-6 can also benefit your red blood cells. According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, vitamin B-6 act as a cofactor to enzymes that produce heme -- the part of hemoglobin that binds oxygen. Without adequate vitamin B-6, your body produces less functional heme, and in turn produces less functional hemoglobin. Consuming vegetables such as spinach, lentils, carrots, beans and vegetable juice cocktails can also provide a source of vitamin B-6 for your body and support proper hemoglobin function.

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