Superfoods are precisely that: the caped crusaders of the culinary world. Sure, they’re going to let you down in the event of an arch-villain taking over your neighbourhood or in the wake of an alien invasion; but when it comes to your health, these foods can literally work wonders. From benefitting reproductive health, to aiding weight loss, to bolstering your immune system, these foods are formidable allies in your journey to better overall wellbeing. Shall we find out more? Alrighty then, let’s have a look at what exactly a superfood is and uncover the best superfoods for women’s health.
What’s So Super About Superfoods?
A superfood is a food that is extremely rich in a variety of nutrients and that has essential health-giving benefits, either physically, mentally or emotionally. For a superfood to be categorised as such, it needs to be healthy, crammed with vitamins and minerals, and strongly linked to improved wellbeing when consumed regularly. They often work as antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory properties and can ward off diseases and prevent cancer.
So, what are eight superfoods that are specifically beneficial to women’s health? Get ready; it’s time to meet the stars of our show!
What are the best Superfoods for Women?
Cooked or raw, broccoli is packed to the brim of nutrients, including Vitamins C, K and A, folate, potassium, fibre and selenium. A single serving (78g) of broccoli provides over 80% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, vital for a properly functioning immune system, making this little green powerhouse one of the best superfoods for immune system support.
In addition, broccoli qualifies with first-class honours as good food for women’s hormones; it is a potent regulator of estrogen, and recent research made a compelling connection between regular consumption of broccoli and better post-menopausal health.
And as if broccoli’s superfood credentials aren’t already top-notch, it also has antioxidant properties. It may protect against cancer (particularly breast cancer, due to its metabolising effect on estrogen) and diabetes. Plus, its propensity to guard against tissue degeneration means that this cruciferous champion can also mitigate age-related cell damage.
Now that’s a superfood!
2. Bok Choy
This humble vegetable is a leviathan of good health. Bok choy is a member of the brassica family, part of the genus of cruciferous veggies packed with essential vitamins and minerals. They help strengthen bones and support heart health and the immune system.
Incorporating bok choy into your diet can also work wonders for your skin, improving tone and radiance.
Sounds too good to be true?
Here’s the science: bok choy is rich in ascorbic acid, which promotes healing in the body, and helps combat general feelings of unwellness, stress and fatigue. Ascorbic acid also plays an essential part in the body’s production of scleroprotein, needed for healthy skin. So eating a diet rich in this vitamin is vital to keep your skin glowing all year round.
If you’re struggling to come up with some quick and easy ways to make bok choy part of your life, give this simple bok choy recipe a go. It goes from the pantry to the plate in 20 minutes. It is perfect for dinner and is a tasty no-guilt treat that will nourish body, mind, and budget https://www.womansday.com/food-recipes/food-drinks/recipes/a50956/soy-glazed-salmon-bok-choy/.
Lentils’ credentials as a nutritional food are impeccable – no health store or ‘low-fat choice’ shelf is going to be deficient in packs of these power pulses. Full to the brim with protein and fibre, lentils are the perfect all-rounder for promoting general good health, supporting the heart, immune system, and digestion, and aiding in maintaining the body’s blood sugar levels. On top of this, lentils work within the body to reduce inflammation and can reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases.
For women, lentils also offer a particular health benefit. During pregnancy, these tiny pulses can protect the developing foetus from neural tube defects due to their high level of folic acid, vital when preparing for and during pregnancy.
Try this vegan-friendly soup (https://cookieandkate.com/best-lentil-soup-recipe/) for an easy, heart-warming way to reap the many benefits of this superfood.
4. Chocolate (really – as long as it’s dark!)
If you were to ask ‘what is the most powerful antioxidant?’ then dark chocolate could well be the answer, which earns it a place on our list. The key here is the percentage of cacao: the higher the percentage, the stronger the antioxidant punch. This antioxidant kick comes from the plentiful flavonoids in dark chocolate, which help protect against cancer and other diseases. Flavonoids have also been linked to protecting the skin from UV damage caused by sun exposure and being excellent for the brain, aiding learning and memory.
Cacao is replete with vitamins and minerals, including copper, iron and magnesium. Those are hugely beneficial to the skin, improving elasticity and promoting a youthful glow. Plus, the presence of polyphenols and theobromine in its make-up could help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. I mean. I was going to eat the dark chocolate anyway, but now I will feel sanctimonious while doing so.
Flaxseed is packed with essential nutrients; eating it can offer real health benefits to women going through menopause due to its ability to regulate hormones. Some women even find that incorporating flaxseed into their daily diet negates the need for traditional HRT to manage menopause symptoms like night sweats and increased anxiety. It’s easy to squeeze into your diet, too: simply add a couple of tablespoons to your cereal, a smoothie or homemade soup, or use crushed in pancakes and cookies.
There are other benefits to tucking into this tasty, tiny superfood, too: it’s crammed with heart-loving omega-3 fatty acids, which aid, for example, metabolic processes and help maintain good vision; it can even lower blood pressure. Omega-3 is also thought to help with reducing the amount of fat present in the liver and is credited with being cancer-preventing. On top of all this, its role in melatonin production means that it can also help you get a good night’s sleep after a busy day.
That’s a lot of good coming from a little seed.
6. Green Tea
Green tea doesn’t just make it onto a superfoods list 2021; it made it onto the superfood BC 2700 list and the list for every year in between. If they’d been compiling those types of lists back then, of course.
Green tea is a hero of health, promoting proper brain and heart function, guarding against cancer and propping up the immune system due to its antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties.
In terms of women’s health, there is growing evidence to suggest that the consumption of green tea can significantly lower the risk of developing HPV (Human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer. This is due to the presence of the exceptionally potent extract epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) in green tea, which helps to inhibit the growth of abnormal cells.
Drinking green tea (or matcha, its powdered incarnation) helps optimise your metabolic rate, meaning that you burn off fat faster. That’s encouraging.
Salmon is incredibly rich in heart loving omega-3 fatty acids, along with a host of other nutrients.
It’s also one of the best superfoods for weight loss. As a lean source of protein and polyunsaturated fat (that’s the good kind), salmon helps you feel fuller for longer, therefore making you less likely to nibble on unhealthy snacks in the post-dinner / pre-bedtime period.
Salmon is also an excellent choice for pregnant women and nursing mums. It supports healthy brain development and aids visual function in fetuses and nursing infants.
Salmon provides vital benefits to women in its high levels of calcium and vitamin D, which help to maintain bone density and guard against osteoporosis as we age.
Poor little eggs have had a bad rap in the past for questionable cholesterol levels; however, research has now shown that they’re actually a healthy, nutrient-packed choice with copious health benefits. Eggs are also among the best superfoods for providing low calorie, high-quality protein, vital for energy, muscle and cell growth and repair.
A single egg contains nearly a quarter of the recommended RDI (Recommended Dietary Intake) of selenium. This powerful mineral supports cognitive capacity, the immune system and fertility; it has also been linked to reducing the risk of miscarriage during pregnancy.
Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse; they are a rich source of nine (nine!) essential amino acids, iron, Vitamins A, B2, B5 and B12, plus choline. Choline produces a neurotransmitter that aids the brain and nervous system, helping to stabilise mood and increase memory and muscle control.
And if you’re trying to lose weight, eggs are your friend; studies have shown that they keep hunger at bay for longer. Eggs, consider yourself fully vindicated; you’re free to leave the dock.
Find out one of my favourite ways to eat eggs: simple poached egg and avocado toast.
Supercharge your Wellbeing
There you have it, your list of eight top superfoods that deliver potentially life-changing health benefits.
Reaping their many health rewards is both attainable and enjoyable, as you can effortlessly incorporate them into your regular diet.
Superfoods are also becoming increasingly easy to source. Many high streets now boast a superfoods company selling a range of healthy foods; specialist suppliers stocking a wide variety of vitamins, superfood supplements and powder can also be found online. So getting your daily dose of superfood goodness has never been so simple!
By becoming mindful of what we put into our bodies (you may wish to read my previous blog on mindful eating), we nurture both our physical sense and our lives in general. A rise in energy levels helps us, perhaps, get a bit more exercise; as our skin begins to glow, so does our internal sense of wellbeing. Superfoods aren’t just about the changes they bring about on the inside, but the resultant happy changes they have on the outside, too. They enrich our lifestyles and encourage us to enjoy a beautiful and healthy relationship with the food that sustains us.