Good nutrition is one proactive way for women to stay healthy. Eating a diet rich in healthy foods can help prevent disease, ward off illness, and even improve mood. But here’s the thing: many women aren’t eating enough (or any) of the foods that will keep them at peak health.
You don’t have to go searching for these essential foods to support your health; there are people for that: doctors. Doctors are amazing advocates for encouraging you to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, and they have some expert guidance they’d like you to keep in mind the next time you go to the grocery store.
Here are 16 foods that doctors want women to eat more of—you better listen to them.Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, you won’t want to miss these 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.
“Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet,” says Dr. Nadia Khan, MD, internal medicine at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. “Kale has many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. A single cup has all the beta carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin K you need per day. All the antioxidants help to combat cellular aging and aid in cell repair caused by free radicals. It is very low calorie and packed with fiber, thus it can help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol and it tastes great.”
“This food contains incredible healthy fats to help hair shine,” says Dr. Sophia Tolliver, MD, MPH, FAAFP, clinical assistant professor at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. “Also shown to be associated with a decreased need for NSAID pain medication in patients with osteoarthritis.”
“These are a good source of vitamin D for women, which is often hard to get through food. Other sources of vitamin D include eggs and fortified foods,” says Dr. Natasha Bhuyan, MD, practicing family physician in Phoenix, Arizona.
Adds Dr. Tolliver, “Consumption can decrease adverse cardiovascular events like a heart attack. Salmon is also an amazing source of potassium which the body needs for just about everything. Potassium can also help to lower blood pressure.”
“Broccoli can help prevent cancer in women since it is rich in sulforaphane, a compound found in cruciferous vegetables,” says Dr. Amy Shah, MD, a double board-certified medical doctor specializing in immunology, nutrition, and wellness at Verv. “Raw broccoli has 10x more sulforaphane than cooked broccoli. It can help prevent cancer by releasing antioxidants that protect against carcinogens.”
“Another superfood packed full of antioxidants like anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and resveratrol; berries can actually help reverse antioxidant damage and prevent disease,” says Dr. Khan. “They can also increase insulin sensitivity thereby reducing blood sugar levels and the need for diabetic medication. People who eat berries tend to be leaner and overall healthier than those who don’t.”
“Legumes are rich in folate, which is important for reproductive-age women who desire pregnancy. Folic acid is important for fetal development,” says Dr. Bhuyan.
“Rejoice for this golden spice! Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, good for your gut, and can help prevent cancer. It can help reduce inflammation in your body and is often taken as a supplement,” says Dr. Shah. “Incorporate this spice into your diet through cooking and drinks such as golden milk lattes.”
“Greek yogurt is packed full of protein and probiotics. Whether full fat or low/no fat, the benefits of Greek yogurt are innumerable,” says Dr. Khan. “The protein in it helps build healthy bones, cartilage, hair and nails. Probiotics also promote a healthy gut where a majority of your immune cells and nerves live.” Related: What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Greek Yogurt
“Spinach is extremely high in iron. Twenty-five percent of women are anemic, and most of that anemia is from iron deficiency. Incorporating spinach into a diet can be a natural source of protein. It also has high levels of phytonutrients,” says Dr. Shah.
Adds Dr. Bhuyan, “Popeye had it right – spinach is the original superfood. Like other dark, green leafy vegetables, it’s packed with nutrients which are beneficial to everyone.”
“This superfood can help to reduce cholesterol. Almonds are a good source of vitamin E which is an antioxidant that can help eliminate free radicals from the body and promote health,” says Dr. Tolliver.
“Eggs contain unique antioxidants found nowhere else, like lutein, which is important in eye health,” says Dr. Khan. “Contrary to popular belief, eating eggs in moderation does not cause high cholesterol or heart disease. In fact, eggs can increase your good cholesterol (HDL) which helps to protect against heart disease. They are also packed with B vitamins and selenium which promotes brain and liver health. Finally, eggs are the perfect protein source, containing all the essential amino acids the human body needs in just the right proportions.”
“I add ground flax to oats in the morning (along with Goji berries and almonds). Flaxseeds are a great way to get plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, which for women can ease menstrual pain and alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Oats are also healthy, loaded with fibers.”
“Ginger can help women in a variety of different ways. It can improve stress, digestion and blood flow,” says Dr. Shah. “Brew a ginger tea during these colder months to help with digestion and stress levels. Fresh ginger is the best; grate and add to your meals for an extra boost.”
“Another food that contains all nine essential amino acids is quinoa. It, along with other ancient grains like farro, spelt and barley contain tons of protein and trace minerals necessary for fighting disease and maintaining good muscle health,” says Dr. Khan. “These slowly digesting gluten free grains promote stable blood sugar and satiety as well.”
“Sweet potatoes are a good source of magnesium which can help reduce anxiety and stress in the body. They also contain fiber which can keep you regular in the bathroom,” says Dr. Tolliver.
“[Blueberries] are the queen of antioxidants with the highest concentration of all popular fruits! It’s rich in fiber and vitamin C, making this tiny fruit have a large amount of benefits for your health,” says Dr. Shah. “Incorporate blueberries into smoothies or snack on them plain.” You can add them to your favorite The 25 Best-Ever Weight Loss Smoothie Recipes!