Throughout various ages and stages, women need to focus on certain nutrients to keep healthy and energized. Genetics aside, there are many things a woman can do to promote a healthy body, including not smoking, drinking in moderation, maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising moderately several times a week, and eating a balanced diet. Here are the top foods women should look to get more of in their diet to combat the most prevalent female health issues, along with 15 delicious recipes.
Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition for women as a source of easily digestible protein, healthy fats and choline, a nutrient that’s been linked to lower rates of breast cancer. Start your day with omega-3, cage-free eggs when possible for the most nutritious, helpful option.
Unsweetened, plain yogurt is rich in calcium and magnesium to help maintain and build strong bones. These nutrients are especially important for those in their child-bearing and post-menopausal years when requirements for calcium go up. Without added sugar, plain yogurt also delivers probiotics for total body health. Devour yogurt for breakfast with granola, mix into a salad dressing at lunch, use as a creamy veggie dip or use in a uniquely and healthy dessert.
Cruciferous vegetables are rich in anti-cancer compounds, essential for women of all ages. Their high amounts vitamin C, A and E also help to stop free radical damage, keeping skin looking youthful. From kale to broccoli to cauliflower, there’s endless possibilities for incorporating more cruciferous veggies in your daily diet.
Sweet potatoes are a source of complex carbohydrates for blood sugar balance, normalizing appetite and mood. They’re also high in vitamin A for skin, eye and urinary tract support. Sweet potatoes make a vibrant addition to any meal, any time of the day.
Premenopausal women need to pay special attention to their iron levels, making iron-rich foods like lean beef a healthy choice. Just one serving of lean beef per week is enough to help, so don’t be shy about steak.
Flaxseeds are a plant-based source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, as well as phytoestrogens, nutrients safe for most healthy women. The healthy fats and fibre in flaxseeds also work to keep skin supple and hydrated. Buy whole flaxseed and grind fresh just before using (they need to be ground to be absorbed) to avoid oxidation.
Women should reach for lentils at least once a week for balanced blood sugar, weight maintenance, cancer preventative compounds, lean protein and plant-based iron. Red, black, green and brown, there are as many varieties of lentils as there are recipes, so getting bored of this humble legume won’t be an issue.
For women’s eye health, pumpkin, a common fall superfood, delivers the goods. Containing vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) for vision support, keep your peepers happy and healthy by carving out space for more pumpkin-filled meals, from your morning pancakes to your evening dessert.
Cardiovascular disease is a serious health concern that all women should pay careful attention to, no matter their age. EVOO is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, compounds that help to lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and increase HDL “good” cholesterol for a well-functioning cardiovascular system, including a healthy heart. No salad is complete without a little olive oil dressing, so reach for the good stuff next time you’re craving something super-fresh.
Kale and other dark leafy greens are a source of calcium, iron, magnesium and vitamin A, all nutrients that women need to consume every day. These versatile veggies also contain many phytonutrients that have been shown to reduce the risk of developing certain diseases. Add dark leafy greens to smoothies, salads, side dishes, pasta and more, just a handful a day does a world of good.
To get the most out of the clove, let it sit once chopped or crushed for 10 to 30 minutes before adding to a source of heat or acid, like a dressing — this helps to release its anti-cancer compounds.
Asparagus is a source of folate, a nutrient that women in their childbearing years need to make sure they get enough of to set them up for a healthy pregnancy — even if it’s not on the agenda for a few years! This low-calorie veggie is also a source of prebiotic fibre, food for probiotics, contributing to proper immune function and absorption of the many essential women’s health nutrients.
Rejoice; dark chocolate is a women’s health superfood! The flavonoids in cocoa work to reduce the risk of arterial clogs in women by stopping blood platelets from sticking together. Dark chocolate also provides a mild energy boost to keep you going stronger, longer. Choose chocolate with at least 70% cocoa (just an ounce or two a day) for best results.
Women who relax (or rush off) with a morning cup of Joe may have a lower risk of mortality, according to the National Cancer Institute. It’s important to drink your coffee black, skip the cream and sugar, and stick to one or two cups per day to get the most out of this antioxidant-packed brew though. When you do feel like indulging, skip the coffee house and blend up a healthier iced latte at home a more wholesome cup.
Women who eat blueberries receive age-defying, heart health-promoting antioxidants in just half a cup per day, whether eaten fresh or frozen (unsweetened). The many wholesome compounds in blueberries can also help to prevent urinary tract infections, memory loss and certain types of cancers. With more than double the amount of antioxidants than most fruits, blueberries are a clear choice when it comes to women’s health. Get your fill on top of oatmeal, yogurt, tossed in a salad or baked up into something sweet.