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7 Foods Every Woman Must Eat

foods_for_womenby Lenora Phillips

Here’s some good news: The more you munch on healthy eats, the less you need to worry about Friday night’s fat burger and fries. Who says? Harvard. Its medical school has found that women who routinely nibble nutritiously slash their risk of dying from the usual culprits, including heart disease and cancer.

To up your odds of living a long and healthy life–despite occasional blow-outs at TGIF–make sure you regularly include these 7 nutritional powerhouses in your diet. “They’re the cream of the healthy-foods crop,” says Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of Age-Proof Your Body.

 

1. BERRIES
Why: Ounce for ounce, berries have more protective plant antioxidants than almost any other food. “These compounds not only lower your disease risks, they help prevent memory loss,” says Somer.

 

How Much: Aim for a cup of berries–any berries, fresh or frozen–at least three times a week (berry researchers say eat a cup daily). Since berries are high in fill-you-up fiber, they may also help curb weight gain.

 

How:

Toss them in salads

Snack on them one by one, like healthy potato chips

Add them to yogurt, cereal, and smoothies

Stir them into anything you bake

 

2. LEAFY GREENS

Why: It’s almost impossible to meet your nutritional needs without eating dark leafy greens, from spinach and romaine to collard greens and chard. They’re huge sources of fiber; vitamins C and K; folic acid (a B vitamin that guards the heart and memory and fights birth defects); lutein, a vision protector; and four essential minerals: calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium.

 

How Much: Two servings a day, and the darker, the better.

 

How:

Add arugula to your sandwich

Layer chard into lasagna

Fold spinach into omelets

Add any green to stir-fries, pasta dishes and soup

 

3. WHOLE GRAINS
Why: They have up to 96 percent more fiber, magnesium, zinc, chromium and vitamins E and B6 than refined grains. This nutritional powerhouse helps prevent the same health problems that refined grains help cause: heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension and even obesity.

 

How Much: Ideally, all of the six daily grain servings you need should be whole, unrefined grains, but aim for at least three.

 

How:

Start your day with oatmeal or whole-grain cold cereal

Use 100% whole-wheat bread for toast and sandwiches

Switch to whole-wheat couscous and pasta

Opt for brown rice (instant is fine), whole-grain pretzels, even whole-wheat tortillas

 

4. NUTS
Why: They’re excellent sources of protein, magnesium, B vitamins and E–trusty fighters in the war against heart disease and cancer. Yes, nuts are high in fat calories, but their fat is the heart-healthy kind. Replace junky snacks with them and you won’t gain an ounce.

 

How Much: Up to five small fistfuls a week (roughly 1/4 cup or about 15-20 almonds, cashews, walnuts or pecans).

 

How:

Sprinkle plain or toasted nuts on salads instead of croutons

Mix them into cooked cous cous and brown rice

Stir them into cereal and yogurt

Use them to garnish a stir-fry just before serving

 

5. GOLDEN VEGGIES
Why: Just one serving of fiber-filled, deep-yellow-orange vegetables supplies five times the beta carotene you need daily to lower your cancer risk, defend against colds and other infections, and protect your skin from sun damage. The potassium in these veggies also keeps your heartbeat in sync and your blood pressure down.

 

How Much: Aim for two half-cup servings a day, the equivalent of one sweet potato, 12 canned apricot halves or a cup of butternut squash or carrots.

 

How: Try this sweet potato quickie from Somer’s The Food & Mood Cookbook:

Cajun Sweet Potatoes
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cut sweet potatoes into 1-inch thick slices and toss with olive oil, Cajun seasoning and freshly ground pepper.
3. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly brown and cooked through, but still slightly crunchy.

 

6. GREEK YOGURT
Why: Low- or no-fat plain yogurt is a terrific source of B vitamins, protein, calcium and –if it has active cultures–the healthy bacteria known as probiotics, which crowd out disease-causing germs.

 

How Much: Three cups a week, if this is your main dairy source.

How: Cut back on sugar and calories by choosing plain yogurt and adding fruit, especially berries, and some granola. Or be more inventive:

Mix a dash of vanilla and chopped mint into yogurt and dollop on fruit

Use yogurt instead of sour cream for dips, sauces and salad dressings

Top baked potatoes with yogurt and chives

Thicken sauces and make soups “creamy” with yogurt

 

13 Foods that Fight Pain

While many foods taste great, they are also powerful healers in a vibrant multicolor disguise. The best healing remedies also taste fabulous (I can’t say that about any prescription medications). Plus, foods won’t cause the nasty common side effects that most drugs cause.

1. Cherries
Muraleedharan Nair, PhD, professor of natural products and chemistry at Michigan State University, found that tart cherry extract is ten times more effective than aspirin at relieving inflammation. Only two tablespoons of the concentrated juice need to be taken daily for effective results. Sweet cherries have also been found to be effective.

2. Blackberries 3. Raspberries 4. Blueberries and 5. Strawberries
Dr. Nair later found the same anti-pain compound in berries like blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries

6. Celery and Celery Seeds
James Duke, Ph.D., author of The Green Pharmacy, found more than 20 anti-inflammatory compounds in celery and celery seeds, including a substance called apigenin, which is powerful in its anti-inflammatory action. Add celery seeds to soups, stews or as a salt substitute in many recipes.

7. Ginger
Ginger reduces pain-causing prostaglandin levels in the body and has been widely used in India to treat pain and inflammation. A study by Indian researchers found that when people who were suffering from muscular pain were given ginger, they all experienced improvement. The recommended dosage of ginger is between 500 and 1,000 milligrams per day. If you’re taking medications, check with your health practitioner for possible herb-drug interactions.

8. Turmeric
Turmeric (curcuma longa) is the yellow spice commonly used in Indian curries. In research it has been shown to be a more effective anti-inflammatory than steroid medications when dealing with acute inflammation. Its main therapeutic ingredient is curcumin. Research shows that curcumin suppresses pain through a similar mechanism as drugs like COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitors (without the harmful side effects). Choose a standardized extract with 1500 mg of curcumin content per day.

9. Salmon 10. Mackerel and 11. Herring
Many fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and herring also contain these valuable oils. Omega-3s convert in the body into hormone-like substances that decrease inflammation and pain. According to Dr. Alfred D. Steinberg, an arthritis expert at the National Institute of Health, fish oil is an anti-inflammatory agent. Fish oil acts directly on the immune system by suppressing 40 to 55 percent of the release of cytokines, compounds known to destroy joints. Many other studies also demonstrate that eating moderate amounts of fish or taking fish oil reduces pain and inflammation, particularly for arthritis sufferers.

12. Flax Seeds and Flax Oil
Freshly-ground flax seeds and cold-pressed flax oil, contain plentiful amounts of fatty acids known as Omega-3s. Do not cook with flax oil otherwise it will have the opposite effect-irritating the body’s tissues and causing pain.

13. Raw Walnuts and Walnut Oil
Raw walnuts and walnut oil also contain the same powerful Omega-3 fatty acids that fight pain and inflammation in the body.

When it comes to pain, food really is the best medicine.

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