10 Super Foods For Women


Women's bodies have special nutritional needs related in part to their capacity to bear children. Combined with a busy lifestyle, most women don't eat as well as they should and may be deficient in vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients associated with optimal health and emotional well-being.

The 10 "Super Foods" listed below pack a big nutritional punch and are easy to incorporate into your diet--even if you are short on time. It is never too late to start eating healthier!

1. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a cereal made with oats, a whole grain. Whole grains have not been processed to remove the hull, which contains the most nutritional value. Oatmeal is low in saturated fat, high in fiber and protein, and is a good source of folic acid and iron.

Oats contain high levels of antioxidants, which counteract the effects of free radicals occurring as a result of cell metabolism. Studies show that consuming 3 to 4 servings of oats per day in bread or cereal for example, can help prevent heart disease and reduce high cholesterol levels.

2. Sardines

Sardines are low in saturated fat, low in calories, and high in protein. They are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids as well as calcium""if you eat the soft bones. One to two servings of sardines per week helps prevent coronary heart disease, lowers high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lessens the severity of rheumatoid arthritis, and may even help mild cases of depression.

3. Almonds

Eating a few handfuls (approximately 35 kernels) of almonds every week is all that is needed to benefit from this nut. Almonds contain high levels of anti-oxidants such as vitamin E, as well as magnesium, a trace mineral that works with calcium to build strong bones.

Almonds are an important source of alpha linolenic acid, which is the pre-curser of omega-3 fatty acids. Tryptophan, an essential amino acid, is also found in almonds. Some studies indicate that foods containing tryptophan decrease the amount of time needed to fall asleep.

4. Lentils

Lentils are a type of legume high in lignans, a phytochemical with weak estrogenic effects, and complex carbohydrates. Lentils are low in fat, and high in protein, fiber, B vitamins, folate, iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.

Lentils can help to prevent colon cancer and reduce cholesterol levels. Fiber in your diet can prevent heart attacks and may be effective at preventing Type 2 diabetes. The lignans present in lentils are important in preventing many types of cancers. Magnesium regulates relaxation in muscles, and is important in alleviating premenstrual syndrome.

5. Kale

Kale is a member of the cruciferous family--the same family that broccoli belongs to. Kale, a dark green leafy vegetable, contains phytochemicals that reduce the incidence of cataracts, heart disease, and some cancers. It is an excellent source of calcium, vitamin C, folic acid, and has more beta-carotene than carrots.

6. Garlic

Garlic is well known for its benefits in reducing the risk heart attack and stroke and in preventing hardening of the arteries. High in vitamins C and B-6, manganese, and tryptophan, garlic is also beneficial in lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure. Garlic has antibacterial and anti-viral properties as well.

7. Cranberries

High in vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants, cranberries are best known for their ability to combat urinary tract infections. Cranberries contain a substance that prevents bacteria from attaching to the walls of the bladder and urinary tract. Cranberries may also be effective at preventing kidney stones, but further study is needed.

8. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotenes, vitamins C and A, and fiber. They are also a good source of potassium and B-6. Because sweet potatoes contain oxalic acid, which interferes with the absorption of calcium, they should not be eaten at the same time as foods rich in calcium.

9. Yogurt

Yogurt is loaded with calcium, which is important in preventing osteoporosis. Yogurt is an excellent source of protein, as well as potassium, vitamin B-12, and magnesium. Yogurt contains live bacteria cultures that are also found in the human body.

Eating one cup of yogurt on a regular basis may play a role in preventing yeast infections. Studies indicate it yogurt has anti-inflammatory properties and may benefit arthritis sufferers. Yogurt is also a source of tryptophan.

10. Prunes

Prunes are an excellent source of fiber, potassium, vitamins A and B-6, and non-heme iron. The fiber in prunes prevents constipation, and helps to reduce cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease.

Iron is important in preventing anemia and is a mineral that many women are deficient in. The body absorbs non-heme iron better when combined with foods rich in vitamin C or foods containing heme iron such as red meat or shellfish.

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