Surprising Must-Eat Foods for Women

Featured Article, Healthy Living, Women's Health
on May 1, 2012
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Spinach. Carrots. Broccoli. Sure, you know these things should be part of your day-in, day-out diet. But there are some foods that might fly under your radar—foods that deliver powerful health benefits, especially for women. These four in particular deserve a spot on your weekly grocery list. Read on to find out why.  

Watermelon
Why You Need Them
Watermelon contains more glutathione—a powerful antioxidant that aids detoxification throughout the body—than any other food. It also boasts other important nutrients, including lycopene, carotenoids, vitamin C and potassium.

What They Do
High blood levels of glutathione are linked with a decreased risk for heart disease. It also helps protect against top cancers among women: lung, breast, colorectal and endometrial. Other benefits: lower blood pressure and improved insulin sensitivity in Type 2 diabetes.

How to Enjoy
Choose ripe, deep-red watermelons with relatively smooth and neither overly shiny or dull rinds. Look for a yellowish underbelly—melons without this were likely picked too early. Wipe the rind clean before cutting to avoid germs that could be transferred to the flesh inside.

 

Mushrooms
Why You Need Them
Mushrooms—everything from button to shiitake to portobello-—contain unique plant chemicals called glucans that make them one of the best natural immune system regulators around. They are also a good source of trace minerals, which many women are short on.

What They Do
Chemicals in mushrooms regulate inflammatory biochemicals, helping prevent  heart disease and cartilage breakdown associated with arthritis. They also stop excess estrogen production and can reduce breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women by about half.

How to Enjoy
Eat about 1/3 ounce of mushrooms a day—shiitake, maitake and cremini offer the most benefits. Add powdered dried mushrooms to soups, or make an Asian-style broth using sautéed fresh mushrooms, ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Buy organic if possible to avoid toxins.
 

Avocados
Why You Need Them
Don’t let anyone tell you avocados are too fatty to eat—they’re worth every calorie. The creamy fruit is loaded with stuff most women lack, including antioxidants and vitamin K—important for strong bones—and vitamin E, plus minerals like manganese, selenium and zinc.

What They Do
Avocados reduce body-wide inflammation, which contributes to your risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. They also help control your appetite by promoting stable blood sugar, reduce blood pressure and may help stop oral and other cancers.

How to Enjoy
A ripe avocado is slightly soft with no sunken spots or cracks. Those with slight necks will have better flavor than rounder ones. Mix with onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and a pinch of cayenne for a simple guacamole. Spread on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise.
 

Pomegranate
Why You Need Them
Pomegranates boast more powerful antioxidant polyphenols than any other food, including red wine, blueberries and green tea. It may be the best food going for your heart and blood vessels. It also inhibits aromatase, a key enzyme in the body’s production of estrogen.

What They Do
Pomegranates help prevent atherosclerosis, the thickening and hardening of the arteries, and can reduce high blood pressure by up to 20 percent. Because the fruit affects estrogen production, it may prevent and slow the growth of estrogen-positive breast cancer.

How to Enjoy
Fresh pomegranates are available in the U.S. October through January, but the juice is just as healthy and in grocery stores year-round. In studies demonstrating its benefits, people consumed 2 to 10 ounces a day. Make sure you get 100 percent juice—juice mixes deliver fewer benefits.