It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of a busy summer schedule, but it is important to take some time for yourself. One way to do that is by eating nutritious meals with foods that will give your body all the nutrients it needs. Superfoods, in particular, are gastronomic giants that we should be incorporating regularly into our diets for their many and varied health benefits. From regulating hormones to glowing up our skin and strengthening our bones, superfoods have the capacity to nourish the body and mind.
Here are 9 superfoods that you should consider adding to your diet this summer that are specifically beneficial to women’s health. I’ve also added links to recipe ideas to help you pack these little warriors of wellness into your life and onto your plate!
The humble papaya is a powerhouse when it comes to delivering real health benefits. They’re packed full of essential nutrients, including carotene, which the body converts into Vitamin A to maintain robust vision, organ function and digestion.
For women, eating papaya can have the additional benefit of regulating the menstrual cycle and easing period cramps. This is due to carotene’s ability to stabilise estrogen levels in the body – this affects uterine contractions, which, in turn, eases the discomfort of a heavy flow.
Papaya is extremely versatile and can be easily incorporated into a range of savoury and sweet dishes, as well as delicious eaten on its own. Why not try this tropical papaya boat recipe that looks great and tastes even better?
Spinach has a rock-solid reputation as a nourishing food that, when eaten regularly, endorses a wide variety of health benefits. Rich in calcium, it’s great for maintaining bone health, crucial for women in avoiding the development of osteoporosis in later life. Spinach also boasts high Vitamin K levels, which the body needs to help heal wounds and blood clotting. It also contains plenty of iron, folic acid, magnesium, and Vitamin C and can help fight fatigue, maintain energy levels, and promote general well-being.
Even more remarkably, consuming spinach has been found to positively affect reducing stress and the symptoms of depression. The presence of magnesium in spinach can help regulate mood, reducing anxiety levels and fighting feelings of stress – and so incorporating this leafy green into your diet can bring benefits to both mind and body. It’s versatile, too – try this super quick, budget-friendly and nutritious light salad for a refreshing summer lunch.
And why stop at eating it? Spinach can even be used as a face mask to boost your glow and nourish dry, tired skin. Now that’s what I call a superfood!
If you’re looking for a snack that can reduce your chances of disease, obesity and heart problems while also giving your hair and skin a natural boost, then avocado is your go-to tummy buddy. A single avocado is high in ‘good’ monounsaturated fat and bursting at the seams with vitamins and minerals, including potassium (supporting healthy muscle function) and the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene.
Did you know that avocado contains more potassium than a banana?
Women particularly can reap the rewards of this superfood, as its high levels of Vitamin K mean that it protects against osteoporosis – Vitamin K increases the amount of calcium the body can effectively absorb, making for stronger bones. Avocados also contain folate, essential for the health of babies in the womb, and great for mum, too – all that potassium helps to reduce the risk of hypertension developing during pregnancy.
Avocados are easy to add to your breakfast, lunch, dinner, or afternoon snack: try mashed on toast with mushrooms or sundried tomatoes, use sliced on salads, or have a go at this simple dressing recipe to incorporate this pint-sized powerhouse into your diet!
The ultimate eat-on-the-go healthy snack, berries have an impressive nutritional resume. Surprisingly high in fibre, berries can aid digestion and help ward off colon cancer. They also contain anthocyanidins, which positively affect learning and memory, and, when eaten regularly, are increasingly thought to help prevent the decline of mental faculties as we age.
For women prone to recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), berries – particularly cranberries – can be beneficial: they provide protection against the type of bacteria that cause UTIs. Their consumption can be an effective preventative measure.
Added to this, berries fight inflammation within the body, help prevent cancer, are beneficial in maintaining a healthy weight, and even help regulate blood sugar levels, so they are an excellent choice for those living with diabetes or developing insulin resistance.
And as the cherry (or berry) on top, berries are the most versatile of the superfoods: nibble on them throughout the day, blend them into a milkshake, or throw a handful onto the side of your ice-cream scoop to get an easy fix of fruity fabulousness. Have a look at these 32 Delicious Plant-Based Berry Recipes to get some inspiration.
I’m going to say it… Watermelon is one of the best fruits for women’s health!
Lycopene is the secret of the humble watermelon’s superfood status; it’s responsible for the watermelon’s beautiful red colour and can reduce the chances of developing several cancers, including prostate, breast, lung colon and endometrial cancers. Lycopene has also been linked to good eye health (particularly the prevention of cataracts) and maintaining skin elasticity and tone as we age.
Watermelon should be your go-to detox food this summer: it has high levels of potassium, good for kidney health, as well as citrulline, which helps to flush toxins from the body while increasing blood flow too, making it a highly impressive cleaner for your system!
And if you need any more encouragement to make watermelon a more frequent visitor to your tummy, it’s packed with Vitamins A and C and magnesium, too.
Try this super easy and refreshing watermelon juice for your hottest summer days. ☀️
6. Chia Seeds
Versatile and easy to incorporate into meals and snacks, chia seeds deliver a raft of health benefits. They are healthy food for women to consume due to their high levels of omega-3, which could protect against breast and cervical cancer.
Chia seeds also make it onto our superfoods list as they contain the serotonin-producing amino acid tryptophan. Serotonin is the happy hormone: it alleviates anxiety, regulates mood, brings about feelings of peace, and helps with sleep and digestion.
Your fibre intake is boosted by snacking on these nifty tiny seeds, too: just 28 grams provides almost half of a woman’s daily recommended intake amount. Fibre not only helps with digestion, but it also helps lose weight, as it promotes feelings of satiety.
And if you’re keen to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control and your immune system working at its optimum level, then chia seeds have your back, and, again, it’s all down to their fibre-full-ness. Chia seeds: we salute you.
I usually have my daily portion for breakfast with my loved chia pudding. Do you want to know how to make the perfect chia pudding? Have it a go by following this super easy chia pudding recipe.
Small but mighty, walnuts are one of the best foods for women’s reproductive health. Like their friends, the chia seeds, they’re packed with fibre. They contain magnesium, which is responsible for increasing progesterone in the body and boosting fertility – a rise in progesterone can help with morning sickness during pregnancy, too. Vitamin E’s in there, also, which promotes general endometrial health.
Walnuts are the queen of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids than any other nuts. Walnuts are great for the heart, can lower cholesterol and are linked to protecting brain function in later life due to their levels of manganese which supports healthy cognitive functioning. That’s not all: consuming a handful of walnuts provides your body with copper, which helps maintain and stabilise energy levels, and iron to kick-start your metabolism.
They’re straightforward to incorporate into your diet, too: snack on a handful during the day or chop and add them to cereal, salads and homemade bread.
I love to sprinkle them onto my banana and almond butter toast or putting them in my homemade granola that’s perfect for a balanced breakfast. Look at these walnut recipes for some inspiration.
Coconut is the superfood on our list that is blissful when applied either inside or outside the body! Coconut oil can be smoothed onto the hair or used on the skin for softness and improving tone. Its healing properties mean that it’s also soothing when applied to burns or rough, dry patches of skin. Rinsing the mouth with coconut oil has even been linked to whitening the teeth.
Full of tummy-loving fibre and speedily metabolised MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides), eating coconut gives you a burst of energy, so it’s a great food to get you up and running first thing: add some coconut shavings to your breakfast cereal for a feel-good boost. MCTs can help alleviate digestive problems, too, and so coconut is an excellent choice for those prone to bouts of gastrointestinal discomfort.
And, of course, coconuts are as jam-packed with a range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients as you’d expect any self-respecting superfood to be.
Drinking coconut water regularly helps to strengthen the immune system thanks to its antibacterial properties. I often use it in my smoothies as an alternative to water or dairy-free milk.
I could go on talking about coconut for hours (you know I love it!) but for now, I’ll stop here, to move on to the last superfood on the list.
A purveyor of healthful plant-based protein, quinoa is a great way to ensure your protein intake is maintained if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. As well as manganese, folate (to help with a healthy pregnancy) and a slew of vitamins, quinoa also contains magnesium: research suggests that ensuring we get enough magnesium in our diets can help with high blood pressure, protect against heart disease and type 2 diabetes and even reduce the likelihood of migraines in those prone to suffering with them.
Quinoa is an excellent choice for weight loss: it’s low calorie and full of fibre to help keep you feeling satisfied for longer, and it may keep cholesterol levels down, too. It contains no gluten, making quinoa the ultimate guilt-free mega food.
If you’re new to quinoa and don’t know where to start, I leave you this helpful article on how to cook quinoa and this yummy quinoa summer salad if you are already ready to incorporate this nutritious food into your diet.
Health and Wellbeing for Body and Mind
As our lives become increasingly busy and with ever-growing demands on our time (and finances), it can be easy to let our personal health and sense of wellbeing take a backseat to other obligations. However, eating well and mindfully can profoundly affect how we feel both inside and outside: a nourished body is a nourished mind. Making time for yourself amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life is crucial; as part of this process, thinking about your diet to increase your consumption of superfoods (such as those we’ve listed here) will have tangible and long-lasting benefits to your general health.
Nurture yourself – you deserve it.
 Jardim, N. (2020). Fix Your Period: Six Weeks to Banish Bloating, Conquer Cramps, Manage Moodiness, and Ignite Lasting Hormone Balance.