Don’t eat too much salt! Don’t drink too much soda! No fatty foods! You’ve heard this advice before. And while these rules are helpful, they guide what not to eat, not what to eat.
The nutrients and vitamins you consume are your body’s fuel, powering your actions and reactions, so, in that regard, the phrase, ‘You are what you eat,’ is true.
There is plenty of information available about diet and nutrition as a whole, but there’s little available for women in particular. Much of the information currently available to women focuses on weight loss, which isn’t a goal of all women.
Women, on average, live longer than men, but this doesn’t mean that women are necessarily healthier. Women comprise 66% of Alzheimer’s diagnoses in the United States and are twice as likely to experience depression when compared to their counterparts.
So—what does this mean? Firstly, it suggests that our focus on what not to eat isn’t working.
Instead of focusing on ‘not’ eating something, or eating less in general, why not focus on what we should eat? More particularly, we must determine the right fuel to keep our bodies healthy.
Each of these 6 healthy foods is scientifically proven to support women’s immune and cognitive health, aging, and weight over time—add them to your diet for a boost!
Check out these 6 health-boosting foods for women’s reproductive and overall health:
Walnuts are a popular superfood, high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. A recent study published in March 2023 suggests that polyphenols (a scientifically proven antioxidant) in walnuts reduce inflammation in the body and fight oxidative stress.Inflammation is a cause of some of the most prominent diseases in aging women including cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. Another study looking at individuals with obesity found that a walnut smoothie drank each morning can stabilize appetite. The study’s findings suggest that walnuts support weight loss and appetite regulation.
Particularly nutrient-dense, blueberries are an important superfood and a key source of antioxidants, which reduce DNA damage. One study found that a mixture of blueberry and apple juice lowered DNA damage by 20% after only four weeks. Other evidence suggests that eating blueberries improves skin, cognition, libido, and mental sharpness.
There’s nothing like a delicious steak on a cool day! It’s estimated that over a third of adolescent and young adult women suffer from an iron deficiency, which negatively impacts their energy levels. Beef is a strong source of iron, and regular consumption can improve iron levels. Grass-fed beef is considered by scientists to be lower in fat than corn-fed beef and contains a high concentration of conjugated linoleic acid, proven to aid in weight management.
Lower in sugar than traditional yogurt, Greek yogurt is a slightly tart alternative that packs a serious probiotic punch. The probiotics in Greek yogurt support healthy gut health. This, in turn, helps regulate hunger, cravings, and weight. Like many of the other foods on this list, greek yogurt provides a boost regardless of age! Older and younger women alike can benefit from consuming more Greek yogurt. Changes in hormone levels throughout menopause can cause a loss of bone density in aging women. Because of this, women are at an increased risk for osteoporosis, otherwise known as bone density loss. The calcium in Greek yogurt boosts bone health, and long-term consumption can reduce your risk of developing bone weakness.
Legumes are high in fiber and nutrients, and lentils are no exception! Lentils are a strong source of non-animal protein, folate, iron, fiber, and magnesium. Lentils contain important probiotics that support gut health and prevent digestive disease. Exploratory studies indicate that lentil consumption may lower blood pressure, but more research is needed to make conclusions. There is other evidence illustrating that lentil consumption may reduce the rate of heart disease and support satiety.
High in antioxidants and cancer-fighting nutrients, green tea is the beverage that does it all! Green tea plays a role in gentle aging and potentially weight support. Scientific studies suggest that consuming green tea regularly may lower your odds of mental and cognitive decline in adults above the age of 40. Green tea contains amino acids that alleviate stress and aid in relaxation. Like Greek yogurt, green tea protects against bone loss and supports bone formation.
You are what you eat, so why not eat well? While these foods are unlikely to unwind the hands of time, they can support a variety of concerns, including low libido, immunity, vaginal health, heart health, cognitive decline, and weight gain. Consult a doctor before making any large dietary changes. They can help you determine which dietary alterations are best for your long-term health.
Amen, R. I., Sirirat, R., Oda, K., Rajaram, S., Nwachukwu, I., Cofan, M., Ros, E., Sabate, J., & Haddad, E. H. (2023). Effect of Walnut Supplementation on Dietary Polyphenol Intake and Urinary Polyphenol Excretion in the Walnuts and Healthy Aging Study. Nutrients, 15(5), 1253. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15051253
Baer, D. J., Gebauer, S. K., & Novotny, J. A. (2016). Walnuts Consumed by Healthy Adults Provide Less Available Energy than Predicted by the Atwater Factors. The Journal of Nutrition, 146(1), 9–13. https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.115.217372
Bazzano, L. A., He, J., Ogden, L. G., Loria, C., Vupputuri, S., Myers, L., & Whelton, P. K. (2001). Legume Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in US Men and Women. Archives of Internal Medicine, 161(21), 2573. https://doi.org/10.1001/archinte.161.21.2573
Budson, A. E. (2022). Why are women more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease? Harvard Health.
Burgess, L. (2023). 8 health benefits of Greek yogurt. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323169#8-health-benefits-of-gree k-yogurt
Farr, O. M., Tuccinardi, D., Upadhyay, J., Oussaada, S. M., & Mantzoros, C. S. (2017). Walnut consumption increases activation of the insula to highly desirable food cues: A randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled, cross‐over fMRI study. Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, 20(1), 173–177. https://doi.org/10.1111/dom.13060
Gunnars, K. (2018). 10 proven benefits of green tea. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of -green-tea
Leech, J. (2018). 10 proven health benefits of blueberries. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-blueberries#TOC_ TITLE_HDR_2
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019). Women’s increased risk of depression. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depressio n/art-20047725
Searing, L. (2023). Almost 39 percent of young women have an iron deficiency. Washington Post.
Tarantino, O. (2020). 50 best healthy foods for women. Eat This Not That. https://www.eatthis.com/healthy-foods-for-women/
Wilms, L. C., Boots, A. W., de Boer, V. C. J., Maas, L. M., Pachen, D. M. F. A., Gottschalk, R. W. H., Ketelslegers, H. B., Godschalk, R. W. L., Haenen, G. R. M. M., van Schooten, F. J., & Kleinjans, J. C. S. (2007). Impact of multiple genetic polymorphisms on effects of a 4-week blueberry juice intervention on ex vivo induced lymphocytic DNA damage in human volunteers. Carcinogenesis, 28(8), 1800–1806. https://doi.org/10.1093/carcin/bgm145