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Top 10 Food Choices for Women’s Health

Top 10 Food Choices for Women’s Health


Top 10 Food Choices for Women’s Health

By Mary Hunt, MS, RDN

Good nutrition can positively influence our health, and there are many ways to eat healthfully. It’s important to learn what choices work best for you so that a healthy eating routine becomes a way of life. Here are my top 10 favorites for optimal women’s health!

 

1. Whole grain oats:

100% whole grain goodness, no added sugar or sodium; good source of beta glucan, a soluble fiber which may help lower LDL cholesterol, regulate blood sugar and help with appetite regulation. Oats are also a prebiotic. Prebiotics are foods (typically high in fiber) that act as food for the “good” bacteria in our gut. The gut is often called our “second brain” because studies suggest it has an influence on our mood and behavior. A healthy gut microbiome may also affect our appetite and weight and have a major impact on our immune system.

2. Berries (“brainberries”):

blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries; fresh or frozen; high in flavonoids–plant compounds that may help lower your risk for dementia; rich in anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that can decrease inflammation throughout the body and particularly in the brain.

3. Dried plums or prunes:

Rich in antioxidants; great source of soluble fiber which promotes regular bowel movements and contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol with natural laxative effects. Despite their sweetness they do not cause large rises in blood sugar and insulin after eating and can be used to sweeten food naturally without “added sugar”; may help preserve bone mineral density and thus fewer fractures in postmenopausal women.

4. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables:

Such as spinach, kale, SwissChard, and romaine lettuce; high in vitamin K which can help protect bones from osteoporosis and help prevent inflammatory diseases; high in antioxidants and may be one of the best cancer-preventing foods as well as decrease the risk of heart disease; ideal for adding “volume” to your meal without a lot of calories or carbohydrates and can help you feel full and satisfied and maintain a healthy body weight.

5. Walnuts and other nuts:

Walnuts are an excellent healthy fat and are particularly high in the plant source of omega-3 fatty acids which are so important for brain health. Nuts also contain fiber and other prebiotic compounds that support the growth of healthy gut bacteria. All nuts, although “heart healthy”, are not “weight friendly” and I believe portion control is key.

6. Beans/Legumes:

Such as lentils, garbanzos and kidney beans. Beans are a great source of fiber which is so important for gut and overall health. Most women do not get the recommended 25 grams each day. One half cup cooked lentils provides 7 grams of dietary fiber, 9 grams of plant based protein and they are an excellent source of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.

7. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna:

As women age, their estrogen levels decline which can put them at a higher risk for developing heart disease. Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids can help fight inflammation and may help prevent heart disease as well as slow cognitive decline.

8. Greek yogurt (plain or with minimal “added” sugar):

A great source of protein, and a good source of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus – minerals essential for bone health. One of the most familiar sources of probiotics. Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain live microorganisms intended to maintain or improve the “good” bacteria (normal microflora) in the body. Yogurt with active bacteria cultures can help support the good bacteria that already live in your digestive system.

9. Soybeans (also a legume):

Tofu, tempeh, edamame, dry roasted soybeans, soy milk (unsweetened); soybeans are one of the best sources of plant based protein. They are versatile, have a low glycemic index and are rich in fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Evidence based studies do not link soy consumption with an increased risk of any cancer. Consistent findings from several population studies also demonstrate that there is no increased risk for breast cancer survivors who consume soy foods. Whether people who have hypothyroidism should avoid soy is a topic of debate! Like other foods that can interfere with thyroid medication, it’s best to wait four hours to consume any products that contain soy. Dry roasted edamame is one of my favorite on the go snacks. With twice as much protein and fiber as nuts, a good source of unsaturated fat and crunch, they are both satiating and satisfying!

10. Avocado:

A great source of healthy, monounsaturated fat which can help you increase the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and help with blood sugar and appetite regulation The fat in avocados can help lower inflammation and nourish your skin, hair, and nails. Avocado’s are actually a fruit, are high in dietary fiber and are a great source of many vitamins and minerals including folate, magnesium and potassium which are beneficial for heart and brain health as well as fetal development. Although they are a nutrient-dense addition, they do have a significant source of calories. A serving size is considered 1⁄3 of a medium fruit and has 80 calories, 8 grams of total fat and 3 grams of dietary fiber!

_________________________

Mary Hunt is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who has been serving the Fairfax and Washington metropolitan area since 1987. Her approach focuses on empowering her patients with optimism and providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to achieve healthier eating habits as well as overall improved health and wellness. We’re proud to have her as part of our team!

Members of Eileen West, MD and Associates are eligible to receive a complimentary nutrition consultation with Mary at your convenience. Simply call our office to schedule your appointment.

Mary Hunt, MS, RDN

Mary Hunt, RD, has worked in Fairfax and Washington for over 30 years and promotes better eating patterns and overall wellness. Weight control, heart health, diabetes, GI illnesses, and child nutrition are areas of expertise. Her mindfulness-based strategy juggles work, life, and self-care. Mary, who graduated from Columbia University and Mary Washington College, values spending time with her family, traveling, and practicing yoga. She offers Complimentary nutrition consultations at Eileen West, MD and Associates.

Location: Fairfax, Virginia

Areas of Expertise: Weight control,heart health,GI illnesses, diabetes, child nutrition


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