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Foods that boost women’s health

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To stay in good health, it is important that women eat certain foods that are especially good for issues that affect them such as brittle bones (osteoporosis), pregnancy, menstruation, and breast and ovarian cancer, menopause among others.

The following healthy power foods can help fend off serious diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, fortify your immune system, protect and smooth your skin, and help you lose weight or stay slim. If you’re eating most of these healthy foods already, good for you! If not, now’s the time to load up your shopping cart and supercharge your health.

Salmon
Salmon is a rich source of vitamin D and one of the best sources of omega-3s you can find. These essential fatty acids have a wide range of impressive health benefits-from preventing heart disease to smoothing your skin and aiding weight loss to boosting your mood and minimizing the effects of arthritis. Omega-3s also slow the rate of digestion, which makes you feel fuller longer, so you eat fewer calories throughout the day.

Beans
It’s hard to imagine a more perfect food than beans. One cooked cupful can provide as much as 17g fiber. They’re also loaded with protein and dozens of key nutrients, including a few most women fall short on- calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Studies tie beans to a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and breast and colon cancers. The latest dietary guidelines recommend consuming at least 3 cups of beans a week- 3 times the measly 1cup we usually get. Keep your cupboards stocked with all kinds: black, white, kidney, fat-free refried, etc. Use them in salads, stuffed baked potatoes, and veggie chili or pureed for sandwich spreads.

Nuts
In a nutshell: USDA researchers say that eating 1½ ounces of tree nuts daily can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Walnuts are rich in omega-3s. Hazelnuts contain arginine, an amino acid that may lower blood pressure. An ounce of almonds has as many heart-healthy polyphenols as a cup of green tea and 1/2 cup of steamed broccoli combined; they may help lower LDL cholesterol as well. The key is moderation, since nuts are high in calories. Keep a jar of chopped nuts in your fridge, and sprinkle a tablespoon on cereal, salads, stir-fries, or yogurt. Or have an ounce as a snack most days of the week.

Avocado
These smooth, buttery fruits are a great source of not only MUFAs but other key nutrients as well. One Ohio State University study found that when avocado was added to salads and salsa, it helped increase the absorption of specific carotenoids, plant compounds linked to lower risk of heart disease and macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. Avocados are packed with heart-protective compounds, such as soluble fiber, vitamin E, folate and potassium.

Grapefruit
It’s all about the “flavonoids,” which help lower the likelihood of certain kinds of strokes in women and may also help your heart. (Oranges work, too, but grapefruit has less sugar.) Grapefruit may not be a good combo with your medication, so check with your doctor before you put in on the menu.

Berries and Cherries
They’re not just pretty in pink … and purple, and red, and blue. These fruits have flavonoids and antioxidants, which can protect healthy cells from damage. Berries help keep your brain sharper as you get older. Plus, you need their vitamin C to build collagen, the protein that keeps your skin firm and smooth.

Papaya
Its red-orange colour comes from beta-carotene (the stuff in carrots) and lycopene (also 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 Yogurt
You need more calcium when you’re over 50. Yogurt has loads of it -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
These little guys are swimming with 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
Ground flaxseed is bursting with fiber as well as lignans, plant compounds that act like estrogen. 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. Check with your doctor before you add flaxseed to your diet.


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