Healthy eating is important for everyone, but certain foods are especially good for issues that affect women. Those particularly include brittle bones, pregnancy, and breast cancer and the super foods are rich with nutrients that will help to protect your body and keep it working well, even as you age.
So just exactly what are superfoods and what can they do for you?
Edamame beans are often found in salads, even in mainstream supermarkets, and they are full of fibre, good fats, and oestrogen-like compounds called isoflavones which can help with hot flushes. (If you’ve had breast cancer, though, you may want to avoid them.)
Kale can be an acquired taste, but packed into these green leaves are loads of vitamin K, which works with calcium and vitamin D to keep your bones strong and healthy. One serving has more than 20% of the daily recommended amounts of vitamins A and C.
Asparagus is also good for your bones and another way to get your bone-building vitamin K. just half a cup gives you a third of what you need for the day. It’s also full of folate, which helps prevent birth defects like spina bifida.
Beans have lots of protein, without the fat that comes with meat, and they’re high in fibre. They can lower your blood pressure, blood sugar, and heart rate and those are all things that can lead to heart disease. Most women know about the risks from cancer, but actually heart disease is far more fatal and the no 1 risk in the UK.
Grapefruit contains flavonoids which help lower the likelihood of certain kinds of strokes in women and may also help your heart. If you are on statins, and a big grapefruit or juice consumer, then check with your doctor for interactions.
Berries and cherries are not just a nice colour range from pink to purple, but also contain flavonoids and antioxidants, which can protect healthy cells from damage. Berries help keep your brain sharper as you get older and you need their vitamin C to build collagen, the protein that keeps your skin firm and smooth.
Papaya is a beautiful red-orange colour and that comes from beta carotene (also found in carrots) and lycopene (also found in tomatoes and watermelon). Lycopene lowers your chance of getting cervical and breast cancers. It’s an antioxidant, too, and keeps cholesterol and blood pressure at healthy levels to help ward off heart disease.
Plain low-fat yoghurt can help with increasing calcium levels, and that’s helpful when you’re over 50. Just 8 ounces will give you more than a third of your calcium for the day. Look for the kind enriched with vitamin D, to help your body use the mineral better.
Sardines are a great source of healthy fatty acids, vitamin D, and calcium. Their omega-3 fats can improve the quality of breast milk, and sardines are good for babies whose mothers ate them while they were pregnant. They also have less mercury than most other fish.
Flaxseed is full of fibre as well as lignans, plant compounds that act like oestrogen. These can help lower your risk for some cancers, including breast cancer. Flaxseed oil is a great way to get your omega-3s, but it doesn’t come with the added cancer-fighting benefits that ground flaxseed does. Check with your doctor before you add flaxseed to your diet; it can affect how well some medications work.
Walnuts are not just to bring out at Christmas as they are packed with healthy fatty acids and may prevent cancer as part of a balanced diet. Use them (or ground flaxseed) as a topping for yogurt.
Avocado they can get a bad press if you are trying to lose weight as they are full of fat, but it’s the good fat. In fact, studies show avocado-rich diets can help get rid of belly fat and protect your eyes and skin. They may even help lower bad cholesterol levels and boost the good cholesterol.
Sweet potato contains copper, fibre, vitamin B6, potassium and iron. Nutritionally then are excellent and also full of beta carotene, an A+ source of vitamin A.
Spinach isn’t everyone’s favourite vegetable, despite Popeye, but it’s a great source of folate. Mostly thought of in connection with pregnancy, it also helps when are older as it lowers your chances for getting dementia, heart disease, and colon cancer. Spinach is also a good source of lutein, the antioxidant that protects the lens and retina in your eye and may even ward off a few wrinkles.
Beef liver is not again a popular item to think of as a ‘superfood’ but is an excellent source of folate and folic acid, though vegetarian sources like like spinach and black-eyed peas provide a much smaller amount.
Red meat generally gives plenty of iron and women over 18 need more of it than men do. Beef is iron-rich, and it also gives you a zinc and vitamin B boost but choose organic meat as that will have no growth or hormone factors added and they can be a link to oestrogen and uterine fibroids.
Good health depends on a varied diet that provides you with all the essential nutrients you need. If weight gain is a problem then progesterone can help, with a specialist combination of vitamins, herbs and antioxidants such as Wellsprings Menopause Capsules.
If weight gain is linked to oestrogen dominance, then try a specialist diet that can help you tackle that.