As women, our health is super important. We have to get specific vitamins and nutrients that help protect and heal our bodies. Surprisingly enough, there are some foods we can eat that can actually improve our health—and we mean beyond the typical advice to just “eat dark leafy greens.” Of course, we encourage everyone to eat healthily, but we found a list of foods that are especially beneficial for women.
Any fermented foods, like yogurt, are a great source of probiotics. Women, especially, need plenty of probiotics to keep their stomach health in tip-top shape. According to Harvard Health, eating this “good” bacteria helps us digest food, fight harmful bacteria, and regulate the immune system. That becomes especially important for those that are often around children regularly like teachers, doctors, and mothers.
You can add yogurt to your daily life pretty easily by eating it in the morning as a part of a healthy breakfast. Yogurt, granola, and fresh fruit make a filling and nutritious breakfast that’ll keep you satisfied until lunch.
Fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel, and herring, are fantastic for the body for a few reasons. We all know about the omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve eye health, fight depression and anxiety, and so much more. On top of that, studies in Nutrition found that omega-3 fatty acids can even decrease the risk of breast cancer.
While salmon is always great to eat raw, you can get the same benefits by cooking it. We suggest eating wild salmon as it has a higher ratio of omega-3 fatty acids. When you cook it, be sure to avoid using excess oils, which could turn a healthy meal into an unhealthy one quick.
Black beans have a variety of healthy nutrients, including fiber, potassium, folate, and vitamin B6. The Office of Women’s Health states that we should have 400 micrograms per day. Pregnant women need more, between 400-800 mcg. Folate can help keep our blood healthy as it assists new red blood cells form and grow.
We also need it before and during pregnancy because it can prevent some congenital disabilities and miscarriages. Black beans are easy to mix into your daily meal plan, especially since it’s a staple in most Spanish food.
Tomatoes have a high concentration of an antioxidant called lycopene. This antioxidant protects our DNA from damage that can lead to breast, endometrial, lung, and stomach cancers. While eating fresh tomato certainly works, we suggest cooking them!
Scientists at Ohio State found that heating up your tomatoes either via sauce or sautéing them increases the amount of lycopene available for our bodies to absorb. Even adding a small a bit of tomato can help out, but those with acid issues should watch out as tomatoes can cause acid reflux.
This is one we all want to hear, right? Dark chocolate is back on the menu! There are dozens of studies that show those who consume cocoa, either as a hot drink or as dark chocolate, have a stronger cardiovascular system.
A nine-year study published in Circulation Heart Failure discovered that women who consumed one to two servings of high-quality chocolate per week had a 32% lower risk of developing heart failure compared to those who didn’t eat any cocoa. When shopping, purchase products that are at least 72% cocoa.
The American Heart Association states that one in three deaths among women each year are attributed to heart disease and stroke – that’s more than all cancer’s combined. We mention this because walnuts can help combat this statistic (although eating them isn’t the only thing a woman should do to lower her risk).
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition outlined why walnuts can boost your health. The study found that walnuts can lower total cholesterol by about 3%, lower LDL cholesterol by 4%, lower triglycerides by around 5.5%, and lower apoprotein B (a protein linked to cardiovascular disease). The study lasted over 26-weeks, so you can imagine what a lifetime of walnuts can do.
Have you ever noticed your garlic sprouting and tossed it out? Next time use it because it has heart-healthy benefits. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry discovered that sprouted garlic has increased antioxidant activity. The only trick is that the garlic was sprouting for five days.
One thing to keep in mind is that sprouted garlic does have a bit of a different flavor. It lacks the natural sweetness that you’ll find in fresh garlic, but when it’s cooked in a dish, you likely won’t notice any difference. Just don’t use it when garlic is the star of the show, like garlic bread.
Olive oil has been a staple in European and Spanish cuisine for ages, and there’s a reason that the Mediterranean diet has such a good reputation. Hint: it’s heavily based on olives and healthy fats. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found some pretty interesting things.
They discovered that the Mediterranean diet, especially the healthy fats found in olive oil (and when eaten over a lifetime), can prevent about 30% of heart attacks, strokes, and deaths from heart disease. Olive oil is loaded with monounsaturated fats, which are good fats that lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol while raising the “good” HDL cholesterol.
If you want something age-defying, look no further. Blueberries are one of the most antioxidant-rich superfoods on the market. They also carry a wide range of health benefits, mostly attributed to their anthocyanins, an antioxidant that gives the blueberries their pigment!
A study published in Annals of Neurology did a study on 16,010 women and found that those who ate one serving of blueberries per week experienced less mental decline. These strong antioxidants also help keep the skin smooth and wrinkle-free as we age.
Whole Grain Bread
Whole grain bread helps keep the tummy moving smoothly, but it can do so much more than we originally thought. A Harvard study discovered that eating whole grain bread may lessen breast cancer risk. The study suggested that this is partially due to the fact that whole grains help reduce high estrogen levels in the blood.
Considering a single slice of bread has six grams of fiber, you’re made in the shade! The national fiber recommendations are about 25 grams for women per day for those 50 and under, while women 51 and older need 21 grams. When purchasing whole grain, be sure the first ingredient is “whole wheat” or “whole grain.”
Are you on the broccoli train yet? Broccoli is pretty much a superfood for a few reasons. The one we want to focus on is its vitamin C content. One cup of cooked broccoli has 85% of your daily recommended value of vitamin C.
We need vitamin C for a variety of reasons, from building strong bones, cartilage, and tendons. Vitamin C also keeps our skin fresh and strong. Healthy skin with a strong moisture barrier is also a great way to stay healthy – cracks in the skin are perfect for germs to wiggle their way into your body. Finally, vitamin C can also boost your iron absorption!
Beets have kind of fallen to the wayside in our day-to-day life, but they should certainly make their way back to our diet. Beets are a healthy source of phytochemicals, but they have so much more to offer. Beets have something called a betalain pigment.
These betalain pigments help give beets their color and can do a variety of things. One study in the Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism found that betalains can counter inflammation, protect the liver, and even reduce the risk of cancer. Betalains can also rev up your metabolism and boost serotonin levels. Need we say more?
Turmeric is a spice that’s incredibly popular in Indian cuisine. Along with being absolutely delicious, it has some serious health benefits we should pay attention to. According to a study in Molecular Oncology, turmeric can lower the risk of breast cancer.
This ginger-like spice has a healthy-dose of curcumin, which reduces chronic inflammation. This chronic inflammation is a major risk factor for the development and progression of cancer. You can add it to pretty much any dish, or you could check out turmeric lattes!
Almond milk is a little more than a fad – it has some serious health benefits. This milk alternative has quite a bit of calcium that can keep your bones strong, which becomes especially important as our bone density naturally decreases with age. Almond milk is also a good source of vitamin E.
One cup of almond milk can give you 20-50% of your daily vitamin E requirement. This antioxidant can help protect against heart disease and cancer. One study in Nutrients also found that it’s beneficial for eye health. Those who consumed more vitamin E had a lower risk of developing age-related cataracts.
We’ve all already heard how good kale is, so it’s no surprise that it landed on this list. That being said, we do want to bring up why it’s so important for women’s health. Kale has a high dose of vitamin K, which bolsters our bone health, but that isn’t all.
The University of Toronto conducted a study and found that post-menopausal women who ate diets that were rich in vitamin K experienced a 50% reduction in fractures and a 75% reduction in cancer incidence. The only trick is that you have to eat it regularly for two years minimum, but with those percentages, who wouldn’t?