The term blood building foods is commonly used in alternative medicine, particularly in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Blood building foods are those foods that contain high quantities of specific nutrients thought to encourage the production of new blood cells in the body. The most important ingredient in a blood building food is iron, but vitamin B12 and folic acid are also key.
Although many choose simply to strengthen the blood by taking iron pills or liquid iron supplements, eating a diet high in blood building foods can be equally effective. Some blood building foods are less appetizing than others, and though they are food, they are generally taken as a supplement rather then simply eaten as a meal. These include foods like animal liver, brewer’s yeast, bone marrow soup, and black strap molasses. Colostrum, the milk produced in mammals during the late stages of pregnancy, is also considered a blood building food. Colostrum is high in antibodies and nutrients needed by newborn mammals to build blood after birth.
If these options seem unappetizing, there are a number of blood building foods which may have wider appeal to the palate. These include meats, particularly duck, goose, lamb, and oyster. Dark leafy greens, such as spinach and wheatgrass, are also particularly high in iron, and are considered a blood building food. Wheatgrass, and other foods such as raisins, prunes, kidney beans, mushrooms, apricots, and soy foods can be particularly effective in building blood, especially if one is following a vegetarian diet.
The iron-rich foods listed above are considered particularly potent in blood building potential. Hypothetically speaking, however, any food that is high in nutrients is beneficial to the blood. Of course, if one wants to encourage the production of healthy new blood cells, it is also wise to stay away from those foods that offer little nutritional value, or rob the body of nutrients. Foods such as refined sugar, coffee, and alcohol are often thought to rob nutrients from the body, not to mention the taxing effect they can have on the liver.
Within the practice of TCM, herbs are also commonly recommended in a blood building regimen. Though they may not be foods in and of themselves, herbs, spices and extracts taken to build blood are often derived from foods, or other edible substances. These include ingredients such as licorice, ginger, red dates, citrus, cardamon, and alfalfa.
Blood building foods, due to their high concentration of iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid, are an effective way to relieve anemia, fatigue, paleness, coldness of the body, and amenorrhea.