Food for Women’s Health
Women have specific nutritional requirements that differ from men. Increasing the intake of foods containing high levels of female-friendly vitamins and minerals supports health and wellness. Making rounded, thoughtful dietary choices is a deeply nourishing form of self-care. Following are ten foods that promote women’s health:
1. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts are beneficial for women due to their high levels of vitamins C, A and E, and their strong anti-cancer properties. One cup of broccoli contains 135% of the recommended daily vitamin C intake. The beta-carotene in these vegetables is converted to vitamin A which speeds skin cell turnover. Cruciferous vegetables have also been found to combat leukemia and melanoma cancer cells.
Flaxseeds are an excellent source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids and fibre. They are anti-inflammatory, lower bad cholesterol, can help with hot flashes, and may have breast-cancer-fighting properties. For flaxseeds’ benefits to be absorbed, they must be ground as the whole seeds are not easily digestible.
The humble lentil is a beneficial source of lean protein and helps balance blood sugar, aid in weight maintenance and has been shown to contain cancer-preventative compounds. Per cup, cooked lentils contain 30% of daily required iron, an essential mineral for women’s health.
4. Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens like kale, arugula and Swiss chard are packed with calcium, iron, magnesium and vitamin A, and contain phytonutrients that help prevent disease. Dark leafy greens are also heart-healthy, lowering bad cholesterol and increasing helpful, good cholesterol. Kale is high in vitamin C and vitamin K, a powerful bone strengthener. Most dark leafy greens are packed with calcium, for those seeking dairy-free sources.
Blueberries are full of heart-healthy antioxidants (more than double the amount than most other fruits) that help prevent urinary tract infections, memory loss and some cancers. They are also anti-inflammatory, fighting arthritis, diabetes and heart disease, and supporting cognitive strength.
Beets lower blood pressure and help prevent hypertension which can lead to artery damage, plaque buildup and heart disease. Beets are also full of folate, an important B vitamin for women during pregnancy. They also help with energy maintenance and lower inflammation.
Turmeric contains curcumin that treats digestive issues, inflammation, arthritis and supports brain health. It has long been used in Eastern medicine to speed wound healing and treat infection. Turmeric has also been shown to boost serotonin and dopamine to combat depression and to slow the progression of endometriosis. Make sure you consume turmeric with black pepper, as it helps the body absorb its nutrients by up to 2,000% more versus without.
8. Black Beans
Beans are both a complex carbohydrate and a good source of protein. They are full of essential minerals like iron, folate and magnesium. Beans aid in weight management and blood sugar regulation due to their high content of soluble fibre. Black beans, in particular, contain three times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids versus other beans and their skin contains flavonoids which fight cancer cells. Beans aid in digestion regularity and may stabilize female hormones to help with PMS and menopause symptoms.
Mushrooms have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer, strengthen the immune system via their high selenium content, and help lower cholesterol to promote heart health. They also contain folate, vitamin D and various B vitamins.
10. Dark Chocolate
Thank goodness, right? It has been found that eating a small amount of dark chocolate (one to two ounces) per day lowers cortisol, a stress hormone that raises blood pressure and increases the risk of obesity, depression and heart disease. Feeling less frazzled and eating chocolate? Win-win. Additionally, dark chocolate is high in iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, and antioxidants. Dark chocolate should be a minimum of 70% cocoa.
Consuming foods high in nutrients that support the unique dietary needs of women leads to greater health and wellness. Practice self-care through varied nutrition choices and consume these ten foods that promote female wellbeing.