A balanced diet is a cornerstone of good health. Healthy eating is essential for everyone. However, female brain and bodies are physically different from those of the males making them more sensitive to the artificial hormones, chemicals and pesticides, which are found in many commercial food products. Such chemicals can cause major damage on women’s health and reproductive system. Protecting the body with sufficient antioxidants and nutrients that fight off diseases is a necessity to keep the system healthy and strong. So all you women out there, this post is for you. I have compiled this super extensive list of 51 healthiest foods for women. Including these foods in her diet will help her to stay fit and healthy.
If you ask me, I believe that a balanced healthy diet and not diamond is a women’s best friend. Actually, everything is interrelated. When you are fit and healthy, you will be able to enjoy life largely. On the other hand, if you are sickly, no matter how rich you are, you won’t be able to enjoy this amazing and wonderful life.
At different stages of life, the woman’s body requires different types of minerals and nutrients. Deficiencies of such essential nutrients could cause complications. But there are certain foods for women that she should consume to stay fit and healthy.
God has given women the supreme power of creating new life and as women, it is our duty to take care of that feminine body which is considered so sacred and holy. Before jumping into the most essential foods for women, let me brief you about some of the diseases that are very common to women. Proper awareness about them will help you to fight against them more efficiently.
Common health threats to women
As I said, anatomies of a women’s body is different, and so are the needs of nutrition, vitamins and hormones. There are many health issues which is specific to women’s body. While some of the diseases can be prevented and cured, there are a few which are life threatening.
Here’s the list of most common health threats to women.
- Obesity– This is one of the health disease more common with women mainly middle-aged women. Obesity may increase the occurrence of several other health issues like arthritis and the more deadly one, heart attack, stroke, diabetes and coronary artery disease.
- Gynecological health disorders– These include menstruation and menstrual irregularities, urinary tract health, including urinary incontinence and pelvic floor disorders; and such disorders as bacterial vaginosis, vaginitis, uterine fibroids and vulvodynia.
- Pregnancy Issues– It includes preconception care and prenatal care, pregnancy loss (miscarriage and stillbirth), preterm labor and premature birth, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), breastfeeding and birth defects.
- Infertility related problems– This include uterine fibroids, polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, and primary ovarian insufficiency.
- Heart Disease– It is said that heart disease is the cause behind around 27% of female deaths. Yet only a very few percentage of people are aware of a women’s heart risk. However, a change in lifestyle can sometimes help to reduce the risk of heart diseases, in both men and women.
- Cancer– Cancer takes the second spot with accounting to around 22% of female death due to cancer. Lung cancer is the most deadly among other cancers closely followed by breast cancer in women.
- Stroke– Stroke is another significant health threat to women. It is also the leading cause of disability in the United States. Women are more affected by this condition in comparison to men.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – This health problem is mainly caused by smoking and involves bronchitis and emphysema. It diminishes quality of life by causing shortness of breath and limiting the ability to stay active. Around 5% of female deaths occur due to this condition.
- Alzheimer’s Disease– This progressive, degenerative brain disorder accounts for around 4% of female deaths in the United States each year. It starts with simple forgetfulness and confusion and eventually leads to irresistible mental impairment.
- Diabetes– Diabetes is another serious health issue with women with around 26 million Americans affected by this. Type II Diabetes is the most common form of this disease. However, the good thing is that it is preventable.
- Influenza and Pneumonia– Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a contagious lung disease caused by a virus, while pneumonia is an infection of the lung, with bacterial pneumonia being the most deadly type.
- Kidney Disease– This disease, in which the kidneys stop doing their job and allow waste to build up in the blood, accounts for almost 2 percent of all female deaths in the United States. Many factors can contribute to the development of kidney disease, but diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and a family history of kidney failure are your greatest risks.
- Blood Poisoning– This condition also known as septicemia is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the blood is infected with bacteria or other toxins that commonly come from infections in the lung, urinary tract, abdomen, or pelvis. The condition can begin with spiking fevers, chills, rapid breathing, a change in mental status, and rapid heart rate, and the person often quickly becomes very ill. The symptoms of blood poisoning can swiftly progress to shock, which has a high death rate.
- Thyroid– This problem is also quiet common in women and must be properly treated. This lifelong disease can affect the ability of women to conceive. Therefore, women must be especially careful of it.
- Depression– Studies say women are more prone to depression than men are. Perhaps because women have softer hearts and are more emotional. This often results to more number of suicides.
- Other disorders– Other conditions that affect only women include Turner syndrome, Rett syndrome, and ovarian and cervical cancers.
51 Healthiest foods for women to stay fit and healthy
We know that the nutritional needs of a woman are different from those of a man. A diet that lacks in some of these essential nutrients can damage the body from within. Experts agree that a balanced diet, rich in all the essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins holds the key to good and healthy life.
Listed below are some of the most essential foods for women to stay fit and healthy.
- Spinach– According to Bangalore-based nutritionist, Shalini Manglani, “Iron is the most important nutrient that your body needs to keep your energy levels high. Taking about iron, spinach is rich in iron that helps deliver oxygen to your cells for energy, and folate, a B vitamin that prevents birth defects. It contains lots of lutein, the sunshine-yellow pigment found in egg yolks. Aside from guarding against age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness, lutein may prevent heart attacks by keeping artery walls clear of cholesterol. Include spinach in your day to day diet for its one of the healthiest food for women, especially as you are ageing.
- Eggs– Egg yolks are home to tons of essential but hard-to-get nutrients, including choline, which is linked to lower rates of breast cancer (one-yolk supplies 25% of your daily need). So breast cancer being one of the leading causes of female deaths can be prevented to some extent. It also contains antioxidants that may help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. However, those having heart issues should try to limit their intake of eggs, especially the egg yolks.
- Greek Yogurt-Yogurt is a great way to get calcium, and it is also rich in immune-boosting bacteria. Prefer eating the Greek kind as it contains twice the protein content of regular yogurt.
- Fat free organic milk– Organic is rich in calcium. Women have weaker bones in comparison to men. Calcium is a bone booster and milk can be a good soure of calcium. Another problem, which is common with women, is the problem of obesity. Research from the University of Tennessee found that obese people who went on a low-calorie, calcium-rich diet lost 70% more weight than those who ate the least. So, women suffering from obesity, are you listening? Besides calcium, it is also rich in Vitamin D. Vitamin D not only allows your body to absorb calcium, it’s also a super nutrient in its own right. Research shows that adequate D levels can reduce some of most common women problems like heart disease risk, ward off certain types of cancer, relieve back pain, and even help prevent depression.
- Salmons– Do not forget to include salmons in your diet. It is a rich source of vitamin D and one of the best sources of omega-3s. The fatty acids contained in it 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.
- Lean beef– Lean beef is one of the best-absorbed sources of iron. Mary J. Kretsch, PhD, a researcher at the USDA-ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, CA approves this fact that the body’s ability to absorb iron increases on consumption of lean beef. Besides, lean beef is also, a great source of zinc and B vitamins, which help body, turn into energy. Try going for grass fed ones, as they are rich in Vitamin E and Omega – 3 fatty acids that are lower in overall fat.
- Beans– Beans are a must have for women as it is rich in fibre, protein and dozens of key nutrients, including a few most women fall short on—calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Studies have shown that eating beans lead to a reduced risk of heart disease, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and breast and colon cancers.
- Nuts– USDA researchers say that eating nuts reduce heart risk and diabetes. Walnuts are rich in omega-3s. Hazelnuts contain arginine, an amino acid that may lower blood pressure.
- Almonds-They’re rich in fiber and ease digestion. They also prevent against irritable bowel issues and build your immunity.
- Edamame and tofu– Foods such as tofu, soymilk, and edamame help fight heart disease when they replace fatty meats and cheeses, slashing saturated fat intake. Soy’s isoflavones, or plant estrogens, may also help prevent breast cancer. Try to stick with whole soy foods rather than processed foods, like patties or chips, made with soy powder. Avoid soy supplements.
- Oatmeal– Oats are rich in fibre and can reduce the chances of heart disease as well as Type II Diabetes both of which are common with women. You can top your oatmeal with different combinations of fruit, yogurt, and nuts. You can also use oats to coat fish or chicken or add texture to meatballs.
- Flaxseeds– It is the most potent plant source of Omega – 3 – fats. It helps keep red blood cells from clumping together and forming clots that can block arteries and thus reduce the chances of heart diseases. Besides, it is breast cancer protective.
- Olive Oil– Olive oil is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), which lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise “good” HDL cholesterol. It’s rich in antioxidants, which may help reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, like Alzheimer’s.
- Avocado– Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of “10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman’s Diet “says, “Avocados are packed with heart-protective compounds, such as soluble fiber, vitamin E, folate, and potassium,”. Besides being a great source of MUFAs, they help in the absorption of specific carotenoids, plant compounds linked to lower risk of heart disease and macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.
- Broccoli– John Hopkins research suggests that broccoli has the ability to fight diseases like cancer and heart disease. Therefore, broccoli is another must have in your diet chat.
- Tomatoes– Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that gives protection against the heart diseases and breast cancer. For a healthier side dish idea, quarter plum tomatoes and coat with olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Roast in a 400°F oven for 20 minutes, and serve with chicken.
- Sweet Potatoes– It contains beta-carotene which human body converts into vitamin A, which in turn is an essential nutrient that protects and maintains eyes, skin, and the linings of our respiratory, urinary, and intestinal tracts.
- Beetroot– Women suffer from weight issues as well as cholesterol, both of which can be reduced by eating beet.
- Garlic– It contains more than 70 active phytochemicals, including allicin, which studies show may decrease high blood pressure. Allicin also fights infection and bacteria. According to a research review in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”, high consumption of garlic lowered rates of ovarian, colorectal, and other cancers
- Ginger– Ginger prevents nausea and vomiting. It is also known for its amazing digestive powers. It works as a stimulant that energizes the body and improves digestion, therefore making you less hungry. It fills you up.
- Red Peppers– It is the best source of Vitamin C, which is best known for skin and immunity benefits. Besides, it helps fighting against cold or flu. It also prevents arthritis.
- Mint– The presence of menthol in mint popularly known as “pudhina” provides freshness and relieves indigestion.
- Holy Basil– Basil or “tulsi” keeps the immune system strong and also has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Turmeric– Women like a lot of spicy food. Isn’t it? You can add turmeric in your milk or dish. It helps fighting infections.
- Figs– They are rich in potassium. In a recent 5-year study from the Netherlands, high-potassium diets were linked with lower rates of death from all causes in healthy adults age 55 and older. Figs are also one of the best fruit sources of calcium.
- Coriander– This herb helps in the detoxification of the body and flushes out heavy metals from the system.
- Fenugreek– Fenugreek popularly known as “methi” helps women body to fight against menopausal issues and hot flushes.
- Blueberries– They are the packet with antioxidants making it the most age defying food. Research shows a diet rich in blueberries can help with memory loss, prevent urinary tract infections, and relieve eyestrain.
- Cranberry juice– Women often suffer from urinary tract infections. Drinking cranberry juice is the best solution to that.
- Asian Pears– It contains fibres which helps in reducing cholesterol. So lower the cholesterol, the less will be the chances of heart issues.
- Lychee– “Journal of Nutrition” published a French study that showed Lychee to be the second-highest level of heart-healthy polyphenols of all fruits tested. Besides, it also prevents cancer.
- Apples– You must have heard the famous proverb “An apple a day keeps doctor away”. This is indeed true. The Iowa Women’s Health Study, which has been investigating the health habits of 34,000 women for nearly 20 years, named apples as one of only three foods (along with pears and red wine) that are most effective at reducing the risk of death from heart disease among postmenopausal women. It also helps to lower risk of lung cancer and type II diabetes—and even help women lose weight.
- Guava– It is also an excellent source of skin healing Vitamin C. It is also loaded with lycopene, which may help lower your risk of heart disease. Guava can even protect against food borne pathogens such as Listeria and staph.
- Dark chocolates– Dark chocolate is filled with flavonoid antioxidants (more than 3 times the amount in milk chocolate) that keep blood platelets from sticking together and may even unclog your arteries. It may also help with weight loss by keeping you feeling full. So, all you chocolate lovers get ready.
- Pomegranates– It has both brain and heart benefits due to the presence of antioxidants. It helps the arteries to expand and contract to manage blood flow and prevent hardening. The same antioxidants help ward off the type of inflammation that leads to Alzheimer’s disease. Pomegranates can be seriously good for womens.
- Banana– Bananas are loaded with potassium that helps to control blood pressure and controls our nervous system. If you have nerve related problem, now you know what to eat more I guess. It also reduces the risk of stroke.
- Peanut Butter– Besides containing bone-strengthening magnesium to immunity-boosting B6, its high fiber and protein content will keep you full for hours, and peanut butter is also a good source of monosaturated fats—proven to help you lose weight and ward off diabetes. Go and do not miss it.
- Popcorns– I am sure you are having a smile on your face now. You must have eaten it quiet often but do you know its benefits? Popcorn is the only 100% unprocessed whole grain, meaning its one of the best snacks to help you meet your daily whole grain goals. It helps fight heart disease and depression.
- Mushrooms– According to the American Cancer Society, healthy mushroom compounds lower cholesterol and slow tumor growth associated with some cancers. Mushrooms also increase your body’s circulating levels of proteins called interferon, which stop viruses like hepatitis from advancing.
- Chicken breast– Chicken breasts are a great source of phosphorous—important for strong bones and teeth—as well as vitamin B3 (aka niacin), which helps control high blood pressure and prevents hardening of the arteries. It helps in the proper functioning of the brain and the immune system.
- Lemon– It contains Vitamin C and is known for its anti-cancer properties. You can even reduce the appearance of age spots by plopping a lemon wedge on them 10 minutes a day for 12 weeks.
- Oranges– besides Vitamin C, oranges also contain solid sources of folate, which are important for cell maintenance and repair.
- Pumpkin– Pumpkins also contain beta- carotene, which helps body convert into Vitamin A also known as retinol. It is important for skin, mucous membrane, immune system and eyesight. Pumpkins also help to combat an enlarged prostate due to the presence of a protective compound called phytosterols.
- Lentils– Women having lentils twice a week are less prone to breast cancer according to studies. It also contains proteins, fibres, and iron and even help blood sugar steady. It is also known to keep hypertension away.
- Brussels Sprouts– This vegetable helps reduce the occurrence of cancers due to the presence of sulfur compounds called It also contains iron, potassium and folate.
- Onions– Although many try to avoid it due to the smell but onions contains polyphenols and flavonoids, both of which reduce oxidative stress and cancer risk. It regulates blood sugar as well gives protection against heart problems and diabetes.
- Green Tea– Drinking green tea leads to slower cancer growth, improved blood flow, weight loss, improved liver function, and reduced rates of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s due to the presence of antioxidants. It also reduces stroke and lung damage.
- Coffee– A massive National Cancer Institute study found women who drink 2 to 3 cups per day enjoy a 13% drop in mortality risk. Daily consumption has also been linked to reduced risk for diabetes, skin cancer, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
- Cumin Seeds– Many females suffer from menstrual pain. In such cases try to avoid taking any medicines. They might have side effects. The best solution is to add cumin seeds to green tea and drink it. I am sure you will benefit from it.
- Brown rice– According to NIH, brown rice is a rich source of selenium—a trace element essential for thyroid metabolism, DNA health, and proper immune system function. It is lower in fat and high in fibre. The manganese and niacin also protects the heart and the brain.
- Wine– I guess you are a bit surprised to see it on the list. Its antioxidants lower cholesterol levels and healthier blood vessels—both of which improve heart health. And the wine compound resveratrol—more abundant in reds than in whites block the growth of fat cells, regulate blood sugar, and ward of depression. However, drinking in excess will lead to the reverse effect of increasing the risk of early death. So drink in moderate amount and enjoy the good effects.
Over to you
The ever-changing scenarios and hectic lifestyles often put a woman at risk. Therefore, you must be ready to face all the challenges of life. Different stages of your life must be responded to with different vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Remember the healthy you are, the healthier will be your child. Note down the nutritious foods we have discussed above and incorporate those in your diet.
So are you ready? Go try out these healthy natural nutritious foods. Do not forget to share me any other superfood that can be added in the list.
Eliana the chief editor at bodyandbeans is a professional yoga instructor and a fitness freak. She has done her master’s in history from Kolkata University. She is passionate about healthy eating and living practices.