Background: The Qashqa’i form approximately 500000 Turkish-speaking ethnic nomadic pastoralist tribal people, living in Fars province, southern Iran. People choosing macrobiotic diets are frequently identified as following a vegetarian diet. Despite that plant foods contain only non-heme iron, which is more sensitive than heme iron to both inhibitors and enhancers of iron absorption, surprisingly, we noted that the mean values of hemoglobin and serum ferritin in the group under investigation were significantly higher than the same population living in the south of Iran. So we aimed to investigate the food basket of Qashqa’I people in an attempt to find out the reason behind this observation.
Methods: Dietary information was collected using the mean of 3-day recall and food frequency methods. Dieticians, with long experience in nutrition surveillance explained the purpose of the dietary information and instructed the girls on how to report quantities using food basket. Iranian food processor was used to enter and analyze nutrient intakes. Weig hts and heights were measured using established equipment and techniques and body mass index (BMI) values were calculated.
Results: Mean value of hemoglobin was 12.31±1.51 gr/dL, ferritin 23.59±4.2 μg/L, albumin 4.27±1.1 gr/dL, and total protein 7.72±1.3 gr/dL. BMI of 81% of the women was between 18.5 and 25 kg/m2.
Conclusion: The mean serum albumin, total protein, hemoglobin, and serum ferritin of this population show that vegetarian diet can meet protein and Iron requirements by using the variety of plant foods.