Nutrition is as complex and confusing as the bodies we aim to nurture. No one diet is perfect for everyone, yet certain foods are known to provide a host of benefits for most of us. And as women, we have even more specialized nutritional needs that change throughout our lives: iron, calcium, folic acid, to name a few. Here’s a list of foods women especially, regardless of age, can be sure to include as part of a healthy, vibrant diet.
Rich in fiber, protein and folic acid, beans provide a well-balanced variety of critical macro and micronutrients. Void of saturated fats found in meat, beans provide a healthy protein important for muscle function; fiber, important to keep digestion regular; balanced cholesterol levels; and folic acid, a nutrient necessary for healthy pregnancy.
A number of studies have shown broccoli to be a superfood that everyone should be eating daily, but for women especially, broccoli has been shown to decrease estrogen levels, which helps protect against breast cancer. Add the immune-boosting power of the antioxidants and calcium also found in broccoli and you have one more reason to include this versatile food into your diet regularly.
Not just a tasty seasonal berry, the cran is rich in antioxidants and flavanoids that boost memory and reduce free radical damage to brain cells. They’re a healthy snack for pregnant women and cranberries also help reduce and heal urinary tract infections. The vitamin C content can help reduce stress levels and improve mood, too.
The anti-inflammatory and rare antioxidant phytonutrients found in walnuts have been connected with a decreased risk of certain types of cancer—including breast cancer. It also may be one of the best foods for heart health—heart disease is the number one killer of women over age 50.
Maintaining iron levels is especially important for women during menstruation, and one delicious, unsuspecting food high in iron is the apricot, especially when dried. The natural sugars found in apricots also boost your blood-glucose levels, which can become depleted as we sleep, making it an excellent addition to breakfast, too.
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