So what is the best way for women to eat? Unfortunately, there’s still no single right answer to this question. Figuring out what’s best for you can be really confusing, especially with all the back and forth. Some sources will tell you to wean yourself off carbs, while others claim fat is the enemy. Some advice claims you should always take a multivitamin, while others say they’re useless. And if you looked to photos of women for help, well… Stock photos make it seem like all we eat is salad.
Well, you need more nutrition than that. While what works and what doesn’t for weight loss varies from person to person, the basics of health and nutrition are quite consistent. Diseases such as heart disease, breast cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s constitute some of the leading causes of death in women; and while diet may not prevent these ailments entirely, it can definitely make a difference in minimizing your risk.
If you miss a week here and there, don’t sweat it. You can get these same vitamins and minerals from other sources. However, incorporating these 21 foods into your diet is a great start to getting the nutrition you need.
An avocado a day keeps the doctor away. Seriously, these superfruits might be a better daily staple than an apple — or any other fruit, for that matter. Avocados give your body heart disease-fighting healthy fats and add a creaminess to smoothies that just can’t be beat. They help with absorption of other nutrients, lower bad cholesterol, and provide a hefty dose of folate. Women everywhere are gorging themselves on avocado toast, and we’re glad — for once, food trends have steered us in the right direction. If you’re pregnant, or plan on ever becoming pregnant, you need folate. It helps prevent birth defects and other complications during pregnancy.
Some women go so far as to advocate for a banana with every breakfast (although having just a banana for breakfast is probably a bad idea). Bananas are potassium-rich and naturally sweet. But they also combat depression better than some antidepressants. The best part is that they’re just 19 cents each at Trader Joe’s. (And for the cutest reason!)
They’re packed with protein, loaded with fiber, and have even been shown to help prevent breast cancer. Beans can also keep your heart healthy, lower your cholesterol, and increase your intake of vital nutrients such as iron and vitamin B. Many women are deficient in both of these nutrients, so adding more beans to your diet is undeniably a good call. The best news? They’re literally less than a dollar per can. That’s basically the cheapest health elixir you’ll ever find.
Blueberries are brimming with antioxidants, which can help fight aging, preserve memory, and keep blood vessels flowing with ease. They’re fibrous, naturally sweet, and easy to eat more of. They also prevent urinary tract infections. Eat them plain, buy them frozen to mix into yogurt or oatmeal, or bake something with them.
This is a highly underutilized superfood — it has enough selenium to fulfill your daily needs with just one nut, along with the many other nutrients in its compact shell. Considering most people forget to incorporate selenium into their diets, eating a brazil nut each day could be a really good idea.
If we learned anything from Weight Watchers commercials, it’s that Oprah loves bread. Turns out, Oprah knows a thing or two; bread is really good for you, especially when you buy the whole-grain version. Whole-grain bread contains fiber, which may lessen your breast cancer risk by reducing high estrogen levels in the blood.
Here’s the better “cinnamon challenge”: Eat more cinnamon. Shoveling it by the spoonful is a bad idea and actually really dangerous (though not as dangerous as some newer Twitter trends). But cinnamon contains proanthocyanidins and cinnamaldehyde, two compounds with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that could help to prevent Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders, according to some studies. Maybe your obsession with pumpkin spice isn’t so bad after all…
No woman’s life is complete without chocolate — unless you’re one of those wacky women who claim to hate it. Chocolate has innumerable health benefits that stem from the fabulous flavonoids in the beans. These antioxidants can keep blood platelets healthy, unclog your arteries, and lower your blood pressure. Additionally, dark chocolate is clinically proven to alleviate feelings of stress or tension. In this crazy, demanding world, I’d say the average woman could use some of that.
Eggs are essential for (non-vegan) women looking to get the most nutritional bang for their buck. They’re super inexpensive (though they’re a little pricier now than they were the year you were born) and easy to make into a delicious breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Egg yolks contain choline, a nutrient used for the functioning of all cells that could also reduce your risk of breast cancer. Bring on the brunch!
They may be filled with dead wasps, but don’t let that turn you off of them. A serving of figs has more potassium than even the largest banana — and you need potassium to lower your blood pressure, ease anxiety, and even stave off early death. Not to mention, figs are one of the sweetest fruits ever. Eat them dried, sliced on toast, or as a perfect complement to goat cheese.
It might not be the best for minimizing odor, but it’s so great for you otherwise that it’s worth the stink. Garlic has more than 70 phytochemicals, all of which have health benefits of their own. Most notably, heavy consumption of garlic has been shown to lower the risk of ovarian cancer. Garnish your dishes with as much of the stuff as you want — it’ll pay off in flavor and in health benefit. And if you’re intimidated by those fibrous, tiny bulbs, here are some tips and tricks that just might get you to eat more of it.
We can’t even begin to make room for the benefits of spinach, kale, and other dark leafy greens on this slide — so we’ll just tell you a few that you may not yet have heard of. Women often experience hip pain or even fractures later in life. Leafy greens are great for preventing bone fractures. It does this with vitamin K, which is also a major player in the process of preventing wrinkles.
Many women lack the B vitamins they need. A vitamin B deficiency can lead to anemia, which women are already more susceptible to experiencing than men. These nutrients are also crucial for nerve health and feeling energized. Lean beef is high in protein, low in saturated fat, and filled with vitamin B. But if you heed popular nutrition advice, you might want to avoid eating red meat every day.
Nuts are known for being nutrition powerhouses — for good reason. Within those tiny shells, these foods manage to pack tons of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats with health benefits ranging from preventing dementia to dodging heart problems. Walnuts are particularly beneficial to women, as they have been linked to warding off — and even helping to improve the health of patients with — breast cancer. If you’re not a fan of trail mix, try eating nuts in one of these nine types of nut butters.
Speaking of nut butter, it’s a delicious way to jazz up oatmeal. We think oatmeal just might be a miracle food — some of the longest lived people in the world ate it every day. This is probably due to the healthy qualities of whole grains in general. They can help keep blood sugar levels balanced and contain some of the richest fiber reservoirs of any food. Did you know oatmeal can also boost your metabolism? Yet another reason you should consider it for breakfast every morning.
There are literally over 20 reasons to drink red wine daily that have to do with your health. And now that hangovers just might become a thing of the past (our fingers are crossed), there’s no reason you shouldn’t be indulging regularly. According to one Harvard study, women who drank wine had approximately 30 percent better odds of good health in their old age than women who refrained from drinking entirely.
It’s a staple of the life-preserving Mediterranean diet for a reason. Salmon is heart-healthy and delicious — perfect for the grill, for your salads, or even for an easy-to-make weeknight dinner. It’s one of the best foods for getting your fix of omega-3s. Who needs fish oil pills when you can eat something protein-packed and delicious instead?
Omega-3 fatty acids have all kinds of perks, but some of the most notable include their ability to preserve brain health, prevent cancer, and cool down episodes of inflammation.
The sweet potato is fibrous, packed with vitamin A, fabulous for your eyes, and it just so happens to go great with many savory and sweet recipes. Anyone who’s cutting carbs should really quit that — and start eating sweet potatoes on the regular. A half cup provides 80 percent of your recommended vitamin A intake, making sweet potatoes a superfood well worth the hype.
Throw them on sandwiches, make an herby pasta sauce, or dip some chips in a jar of salsa. Better yet, whip up some salsa for yourself! It doesn’t matter how you do it, but get more tomatoes somewhere in your diet. Tomatoes have vitamin A, which helps to fight acne and maintain a smooth complexion. They also have lycopene, an antioxidant that boosts your immune system, protects your vision, and can combat breast cancer.
Two nutrients all women need more of? Calcium and magnesium. Post-menopausal women in particular are in dire need of calcium — it becomes much more difficult for your bones to absorb the nutrient due to a lack of estrogen. Magnesium is required for the proper absorption of calcium ingested from food. The good news is that yogurt piles on both of these nutrients. It’s easy to eat more yogurt by eating it with berries and a drizzle of honey. You can also add it into your smoothies to make them taste better and keep you satisfied for longer.
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