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Donating Blood: 5 Nutrition Tips

Sara Martinez
March 23, 2023

This year marks the 50th anniversary of National Nutrition Month, and there are so many ways to celebrate! One way is to eat a variety of foods, like trying new flavors and recipes from different cultures. Another is to “eat green” to protect the environment, like shopping for locally sourced foods or enjoying more plant-based meals.

Whichever way you choose to celebrate, making healthy food choices has the power to nourish yourself while also impacting others and the world around you.

Keeping your nutrition top of mind is also key before and after donating blood. Eating a good meal and drinking extra fluids can help you avoid adverse reactions like light-headedness. Try out these five easy nutrition tips for your next blood donation.

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${1} Add more plant-based iron-rich foods

Keeping a healthy level of iron is always vital, especially when donating blood. One of the best ways to make sure your iron-level is within an appropriate and safe range to donate is by eating more iron-rich foods. Many animal-based foods like meats, fish, and eggs are high in iron, but did you know that plant-based foods can be good sources of iron as well?

Try looking for more sustainable and healthy options to up your iron, like fortified cereals, beans, dried fruits and nuts, and dark leafy vegetables. Just remember to pair them with some extra Vitamin C, like oranges, papaya, or blueberries, to help your body absorb the extra iron!

${2} Avoid iron-blockers

Don’t let all that hard work from those iron-rich foods go to waste! Just like Vitamin C helps you absorb iron in food, there are also foods that block iron absorption. Consuming iron-rich foods while eating these iron-blockers, like coffee and tea, chocolate, and high-calcium foods, will reduce the amount of iron your body absorbs.

${3} Steer clear of fatty foods

Going through your favorite drive-thru or grabbing that bag of chips and ice cream can usually be the easiest option. Just remember though, eating too much greasy food and sweets can lead to high blood sugar, cholesterol, and numerous health problems.

Skip fatty foods before your blood donation as well to avoid feeling sluggish afterward and possibly affecting your blood test results.

${4} Drink extra fluids

It’s always important to stay hydrated, even more so before and after you donate blood since most of your blood is made up of water. Drink an extra 16 ounces of water before you donate and an extra 32 ounces afterward to replace those fluids.

Even other drinks will work like apple or tomato juice (both of which can give you an added iron bonus too). Just make sure to avoid alcoholic beverages which lead to dehydration.

${5} Eat a yummy snack afterward (you’ve earned it!)

After donating, it’s time to celebrate your good deed! Treat yourself by eating a snack to replenish your energy and nutrient levels. From salty pretzels and sweet cookies to iron-rich almonds and raisins, a tasty snack after donating is more than just a reward. It’s an important part of your post-donation recovery!

Developing healthful eating habits has the power to both improve your nutrition and save the lives of others through your blood donation. Don’t forget to keep these tips in mind the next time you donate!

Sara Martinez, OneBlood Digital Marketing Specialist

Sara Martinez

Sara Martinez is a Digital Marketing Specialist at OneBlood. From creating strategic online campaigns to writing engaging stories, she is passionate about raising awareness to inspire others and helping make a difference in our community. #ShareYourPower

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