BDFLet’s talk about some of my favorite superfoods for women, what superfoods even are and why we want to get as many superfoods as we can in our daily diets.
Food is Medicine
As functional medicine doctor Mark Hyman says, “Food is medicine. And some foods are more powerful medicines than others! Food is the most powerful tool to create optimal health.”
He’s referring to what we call superfoods here. These are the foods that have the capability to really impact our health positively. Read on to find out more about which superfoods I love most for women.
What’s a Superfood?
A superfood is any whole food that is rich in essential micronutrients like vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting antioxidants or healthy anti-inflammatory fats. Many of these superfoods are plant foods.
Antioxidants and Inflammation
But why should we be concerned with getting superfoods in our diets on a daily basis? To start, superfoods might have the ability to help neutralize inflammation in the body.
As a reminder, inflammation is caused by stress, poor sleep, toxins and eating too many processed foods or refined sugar, among other things. Inflammation is thought of as one of the root causes of every modern disease.
Antioxidants and other essential nutrients may also help the skin to appear healthier, which of course is something that’s important to many women (myself included!), and is another reason why I love these particular superfoods for women.
Women’s hormones fluctuate greatly throughout the month, and throughout our lives. Our hormones are different in our thirties and forties than they were in our teen years and our twenties.
Including some of my favorite nutrient-dense superfoods for women alongside a balanced and varied diet may also help to reduce inflammation and balance hormones.
A Plant-Forward, Varied Diet is Best
As a reminder, the best healthy diet to follow is one that’s heavily focused on a variety of plant foods (no need to label yourself vegan or vegetarian, just eat plenty of plant foods) in all the colors of the rainbow.
With that said, here are 15 superfoods for women that I love and eat regularly:
Turmeric is a superfood because of the powerful anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin that’s found in turmeric. I love to use turmeric in salad dressings, soothing lattes, curry dishes and soups. Be sure to pair turmeric with black pepper which helps to make the curcumin more available to be used by the body.
Berries are known to be some of the most antioxidant-rich foods in the world. Include as many fresh berries as you can like blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. But don’t forget about some of my favorite lesser known berries like goji berries and camu camu, which can be found in dried form and powdered form and are perfect to add to smoothies, oatmeal bowls and salads or salad dressings.
3. Leafy greens like spinach and arugula
While all dark leafy greens are superfoods since they’re loaded with vitamins and minerals, spinach and arugula remain my favorites because of their versatile flavor and how easy they are to use in a variety of dishes. I try to get at least 1-2 servings of leafy greens in daily.
4. Bright orange colored fruits and veggies
Bright orange colored fruits and veggies like citrus fruit, butternut squash, carrots, pumpkin and sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin C and vitamin A, both of which act as antioxidants in the body.
5. Wild salmon
Wild salmon contains good amounts of inflammation-lowering omega 3 fatty acids. Wild salmon is also high in protein and is one of the few foods that naturally contains vitamin D. One of my favorite ways to eat more wild salmon is to buy tins of wild salmon, which I use to make a quick and easy salmon salad, or toss it with pasta and pesto or an olive oil and parmesan cheese sauce.
6. Beans and legumes
If you aren’t on board with beans and legumes, it’s time to get there because they are nutritional powerhouses. They’re loaded with plant based protein, they’re full of fiber and they’re one of the most heart healthy foods out there. They’re also super versatile (Black bean tacos! Lentil burgers! Chickpea curry!) and they’re a sustainable choice. What’s not to love? I always keep canned beans and lentils on-hand for when I need them in a hurry, and organic tempeh (made from fermented soybeans) is one of my go-to proteins in a salad.
Oats are one of my favorite superfood whole grains for many reasons. Oats are a great source of a soluble fiber called beta-glucans which feed the good gut bacteria and may also lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Oats also contain resistant starch which also benefits digestion. The high fiber content in oats mean they help us to stay feeling full and satisfied and they’re also a wonderful source of energy. I love a bowl of cooked oats loaded up with other favorite superfoods, as well as all of my yummy baked oatmeal recipes.
Asking me to choose a favorite superfood is like asking me to pick my favorite child. But if you made me choose, hands down I would choose cacao. Raw cacao is the purest form of chocolate and the one that allows you to reap the most benefits. Cacao is one of the foods in nature that is highest in magnesium, a mineral that many people are deficient in, and it’s loaded with antioxidants . It’s also a natural mood and energy booster and an inflammation reducer thanks to the compound theobromine that’s found in cacao, and it contains a compound called phenylethylamine which works by stimulating the brain’s pleasure centers. This chemical naturally occurs in the body when we are in love and also when we achieve orgasm. A women’s superfood indeed!
I buy cacao in powder form, and also the crunchy nibs, and add them to oatmeal, smoothies, raw treats and more. Unlike processed dark chocolate, cacao is not sweetened so I suggest sweetening it with dates, banana, raw honey or maple syrup.
All seeds are superfoods, but my favorites are chia, hemp, flax and sesame seeds. Each of these seeds contain good amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, fiber and plant-based protein, as well as vitamins and minerals galore. And some people believe that seeds can help women with hormonal balance.
10. Green tea
There are a lot of fad healthy drinks on the market, but green tea is the healthy drink that’s stood the test of time. It’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for millenia. The beneficial nutrients in green tea are polyphenols which contain powerful antioxidants. Some of the health benefits that may be associated with green tea: improved brain function, fat loss, protecting against cancer and lowering risk of heart disease, among others.
The Chinese have been using mushrooms like reishi, shiitake and cordyceps for their powerful nutritional properties and immune-boosting abilities for centuries. I like to cook with shiitake mushrooms (hint: buy them dried when you can find them and reconstitute them with hot water; fresh shiitake mushrooms are usually quite expensive) and add reishi and cordyceps to smoothies or a cacao latte.
Avocados contain monounsaturated fats which help to fight inflammation in the body, and may also help to promote smooth, more supple skin. They’re also high in the antioxidant vitamin A, among other important nutrients. I love avocado on toast, in salads and bowls and even mixed with a little cacao for a healthy chocolate pudding (for real!).
13. Raw honey
I have a sweet tooth, and raw honey is one of the best ways I’ve found to indulge it. Raw honey has been used throughout history for its health benefits. It has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, which is why it may help to support the digestive system, and it has anti-inflammatory properties as well. I like to drizzle honey on my oatmeal or on top of a bowl of in-season fresh fruit, in moderate amounts of course (as with all natural sweeteners). Yum!
14. Medjool dates
The other way I manage my sweet tooth is with medjool dates. Not only do they taste amazing, they’re also bursting with important vitamins and minerals. Dates are a wonderful source of natural energy due to the natural sugar content, but surprisingly they’re low on the glycemic index, meaning they won’t raise blood sugar. Dates are high in fiber which can be helpful if you occasionally suffer from irregularity (read: constipation). As with all sweeteners, eat them sparingly.
Maca is an adaptogenic root that you eat in powder form; it comes from a plant that’s native to Peru and Bolivia. It’s known to help balance hormones, and it’s loaded with amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Because it’s an adaptogenic food, maca may be able to help our bodies cope with stress, and many people also claim that it helps to boost both energy and sex drive (praise be!). Maca has somewhat of a malt-like flavor. It’s delicious in smoothies, oatmeal and raw desserts.
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