sickle cell

Six Food Types to Benefit People with Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease is an inherited disease that causes the red blood cells to be deformed, shaped like a sickle.  This prevents the proper and normal flow of oxygenated blood to all parts of the body.  Also, due to their sickle nature, they sometimes cluster in blood vessels causing severe pain and other health complications.

Two blood vessels, in tones of red, on blue background ... one shows normal red blood cells, the other shows sickle cells blocking the blood flow
Sickle Cell and normal Red Blood Cell comparison

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A person with sickle cell disease can benefit from a healthy and balanced diet that supports overall wellbeing.  While there is no specific diet for sickle cell disease, certain foods can provide essential nutrients and help manage symptoms. Here are six types of food that may be beneficial:

  1. Fruit and Vegetables:

    Beetroot, beans, cucumber, tomatoes, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, onions

    Fruit and vegetables are definitely your most important friends in so far as food and health are concerned.  The importance of fruit and vegetables cannot be over emphasized.  Your body needs a lot of vitamins, and fruit is full of them.  Include a variety of colourful fruit and vegetables in your diet to ensure an intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  Examples include berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens, broccoli, and bell peppers.

  2. Whole Grains:

    Mixed grains, beige and yellow

    Include wholegrains in your diet – products like whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, and oats. These provide fibre, iron, magnesium, B vitamins, and minerals that contribute to the production of red blood cells in the body.

  3. Lean Protein:

    Whole cooked fish on white plate with salad

    It is also necessary to include lean protein sources to your diet such as poultry, fish, legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), and tofu. Protein is essential for growth, repair, and the production of red blood cells.  People with sickle cell anaemia have a higher body metabolic rate, and therefore need more protein, than people who don’t have the condition.  This is for stronger muscle, regeneration of dead body cells, rebuilding of antibodies and enzymes, and also to maintain bone health.

  4. Healthy Fats:

    Avocado, cut in half. Bowl of nuts. On white surface with black background.

    Incorporate healthy fats into your diet, such as those found in avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.  These fats provide energy and support brain function.

  5. Iron-rich Foods:

    Raw steaks of beef, on wooden surface with black background.

    Sickle cell disease can lead to anaemia , so it’s important to consume iron-rich foods like lean red meat, poultry, seafood, beans, lentils, and fortified cereals. Iron helps in the production of red blood cells, which are certainly deficient in a sickle cell person.

  6. Water:

    water in clear glass with light brown background

    Staying well-hydrated is crucial for individuals with sickle cell disease to prevent dehydration and to promote blood flow.  Since water carries nutrients and oxygen to all the cells in the body, drink plenty of water throughout the day and avoid getting dehydrated.


It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietician to create an individualized diet plan based on your specific needs and medical condition.  Food may not be a cure for sickle cell, but certainly is keeps you on the right track for managing the symptoms.  In my next article, I will be focusing on the dangerous habits a sickle cell patient should avoid.

You may also want to read our recent article:  Eight Foods to Avoid if you are Diabetic

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