What superfoods will help make your summer – and the rest of your life – healthier?
Women Have Unique Needs
When it comes to nutrition, the needs of men and women overlap in many areas. But difference exit, too. For instance, women need more iron than men. And pregnant and breastfeeding women have many specific nutrient needs. They need more of many vitamins and minerals – including C, folate, vitamin B12, iodine, and zinc – than the typical adult. Many more differences is nutritional needs exist, which is experts weighed in to create this list of summer superfoods handpicked especially for women.
These red gems are at their prime availability in the summer. ‘Cherries contain anthocyanins, the component that gives cherries their rich red color’, notes Rahaf Al Bochi, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. ‘Anthocyanins are flavonoids that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, which help reduce the risk for chronic diseases’. Add fresh cherries to cherry oatmeal, cherry mint salsa, or protein French toast.
‘This summertime favorite is full of lycopene, a disease-fighting nutrient benefiting women by helping to lower their risk of cancer and heart disease’, says Cherly Mussatto, MS,MD, a dietitian in Osage City, Kansas. ‘Since lycopene is fat-soluble, add a healthy fat such as olive oil to tomatoes to boost absorption’. Mix tomatoes into homemade Mexican salsa or a vegetarian rice bowl.
Did you know fresh fruit boasts a super high percentage of water? ‘It’s literally bursting with fluid’, says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, a dietitian in Boston. ‘A cup of cubed watermelon nearly 5 ounces of fluid to help you stay hydrated in the hot summer weather. It also offers the antioxidant lycopene, plus potassium for fluid balance. Freeze it in slice for even more fun. ‘You can also enjoy watermelon in fruit skewers, watermelon salad, or a watermelon slushie.
These crunchy seeds pack a big nutrition punch for their size! ‘Flaxseed, a superfood providing omega-3 fatty acids and lignans, is well known for helping to promote hormone balance’, says Bailee Hart, RDN, a dietitian in Los Angeles. ‘This can be especially beneficial during menopausal years and is a viable alternative option to hormone replacement therapy. Women in menopause can try adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed to their smoothies this summer to help reduce hot flashes, mood swings, and night sweats’. Also add flaxseed to a healthy broccoli slaw recipe, chocolate waffles, or fruit pizza.
‘All berries contain plenty of powerful cancer-fighting nutrients called anthocyanins, which can help reduce the risk of several types of cancer – including breast cancer’, says Melissa Mitri, MS, RD, a dietitian in Milford, Connecticut. These antioxidants also help protect the heart. Incorporate berries into a blueberry peanut butter smoothie, blackberry bread pudding, or a brie appetizer with blueberries.
In addition to heart-healthy fats, this green superfood boasts many other nutrients. ‘Avocado provides B6, folate, and magnesium’, says nutrition blogger Jeanette Kimszal, RDN. ‘These compounds are needed for hormone production, and they help with symptoms of PMS’. Folate has other benefits, too. ‘It is important for women’s health since it helps make DNA and other genetic materials that are especially needed during pregnancy’, notes Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, author of 365 Snacks for Every Day of the Year.
‘This grain is loaded with fiber and protein to aid with weight control and digestion’, says nutrition blogger Lisa Andrew, MED,RD. the combination of fiber and protein helps to keep you fuller for longer, which can help decrease the urge to snack.
‘Let’s be real: Women need chocolate’, says nutrition blogger Michele Fumagalli, RD. ‘Luckily, a serving of 70 to 85 percent dark chocolate is a perfect way to satisfy a craving while also providing powerful antioxidants, fiber, and magnesium. Have a square of a dark chocolate with your coffee’. The flavonoids in chocolate can also help your brain function optimally, finds a review of research published in Frontiers in Nutrition. Unsweetened cocoa powder also does the trick, and this antioxidant – rich food mixes well into many recipes. Enjoy it in chocolate ice cream, almond butter protein balls, or chocolate truffles.
These protein sources boast many nutrients that are helpful to women. ‘Eggs provide choline, a nutrient not only tied to brain health and development but also a reduce risk of breast cancer’, says Sarah Anzlovar, MA, RDN, a dietitian in Boston.
This drink can be so refreshing in the summer, especially when iced. In addition to providing heart benefits, green tea is a superfood beverage for women because it ptovides antioxidants that may help protect the skin from aging caused by UV rays.
Here’s a reason to eat your purple fruit: ‘Prunes contain vitamin K and potassium, which are important for healthy bones’, says nutrition blogger Josten Fish, RD. ‘Studies have actually shown that daily consumption of prunes in women can help prevent bone loss’.