According to Ann Wigmore, a holistic health practitioner and raw food advocate, food can be the safest and most powerful form of medicine—or the deadliest poison. Without a doubt, what we eat has a great impact on our health, as all the substances ingested into our system end up in our bloodstream and, sooner or later, they reach our organs.
Sometimes, you can tell when you’ve eaten something bad—a contaminated piece of chicken, for example—immediately. Food poisoning usually takes effect between two hours to two days after ingestion. In other cases, prolonged consumption of unhealthy food leads to an accumulation of harmful substances, resulting in illness. Thankfully, in a similar manner, we can eat healthy foods packed with beneficial nutrients that our body needs. The following six foods are recommended specifically for women to support female health.
Tomatoes: Bright red, shiny, full of juicy goodness, this garden favorite is a regular in salads, sandwiches, sauces, and pizzas—but why is it a must-have for women? Well, tomatoes are good for your heart. A study of 40,000 women demonstrated that certain phytochemicals found in tomatoes protect against cardiovascular disease (a leading cause of death among women) when consumed in oil-based tomato products. Whether you prefer your tomatoes raw or cooked, make sure you pair them with some sort of fat, such as olive oil or a slice of cheese, to make these compounds more effective. (Hidden secret to women’s aging health.)
Flaxseed: One of the current so-called superfoods, flax comes packed with fiber, plant-based omega-3s, and other disease-warding compounds. Mayo Clinic reports that 40 grams of crushed flaxseed can reduce menopausal hot flashes, while other studies note its ability to lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides as well as help fight breast cancer. It is advised to ground flaxseed before consumption, as whole seeds cannot be readily digested. One to two tablespoons per day is an optimal dose.
Kale: Another health food superstar, kale is in every green smoothie and detox salad. It offers a ton of benefits: antioxidants for vision health, loads of vitamin C, some calcium, and another compound that is essential for strong bones. Our body needs this compound to switch on the proteins that protect our bones from osteoporosis, another condition that seems to favor women (with prevalence rates four times greater than men’s). Bonus points: if you’re watching your calories, kale is a safe option—a cup of cooked kale is only worth 36 calories. (Reverse 10 years of bone loss?)
Salmon: Younger women of the child-bearing age can ward off those post-partum blues by eating fatty fish like salmon, while in older women, regular seafood meals can help protect their hearts, especially once they enter menopause and their estrogen levels take a dive. Even if you’re not a big fan of seafood, two servings of salmon a week is enough to get those heart health benefits.
Walnuts: Another way to snack healthy on the go, walnuts are known to protect against both breast cancer and osteoporosis thanks to their high content of antioxidants and plant-based omega-3s. One study uncovered that a two-ounce serving of walnuts twice daily helped slow down the growth of the breast cancer tumor in mice, while another study revealed effective prevention of excessive bone turnover with a diet rich in omega-3s. But be mindful your portions: nuts have a high calorie count, so one ounce a day will suffice.
The best part about eating for your health is that these foods are delicious and versatile. You can play around in the kitchen and never get bored. The more creative ways you find to incorporate these six foods into your regular menu, the better it is for your overall health.