vegetables go, leafy greensespecially the dark-green
kindtend to top health experts' lists. And, along with
spinach, kale is at the top of the dark-and-leafy-green heap.
Bursting with vitamins A, K, and C, kale is also a great source
of calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Whether you toss
it into soups, smoothies, or salads, gobble as much of this
stuff as you can every day.
with vitamin C, oranges are also solid sources of folateimportant
for cell maintenance and repair. They contain potassium and
vitamins B1 and A, which are essential for vision and immune
function. And the pectin in oranges absorbs unhealthy cholesterol
from the other foods you eat, and so keeps the bad stuff out
of your system. Pectin also neutralizes a harmful protein
called galectin-3 that causes tissue scarring in your heart,
shows UK research.
in fat and high in fiber, brown rice is also a rich source
of seleniuma trace element essential for thyroid metabolism,
DNA health, and proper immune system function, according to
the NIH. One cooked cup contains more than 27% of your daily
selenium needs. Brown rice is also a good source of manganese
and niacin, which are both important for brain and heart health.
Swap in brown rice for white, and youll do your health
a big favor.
1 cup contains nearly half your daily manganeseimportant
for brain and nerve function, as well as bone and joint health.
Raspberries are high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants,
and low in carbohydrates. And the phytonutrients found in
raspberries may help slow or reduce the growth of cancer cells,
newer research suggests. If you can, buy organic raspberries;
USDA research shows the fruit is one of the most commonly
contaminated with pesticides.
champs when it comes to polyphenols and flavonoids, both linked
to lower oxidative stress and reduced cancer risk. An onions
sulfur compounds help control diabetes symptoms and protect
your heart from disease. And the chromium found in onions
has been shown to regulate blood sugar.
teas antioxidant compounds have been linked to slower
cancer growth, improved blood flow, weight loss, improved
liver function, and reduced rates of brain diseases like Alzheimers
makes every list of superfoods for good reason: Its
packed with complete proteinthe type that
contains all 9 of the essential amino acids your body needs.
(Many vegetables are incomplete protein sources.) Its
also solid on fiber to aid your digestion, and is practically
multivitamin-heavy when it comes to nutrients like iron, magnesium,
calcium, potassium, and folate.
antioxidants are linked to lower cholesterol levels and healthier
blood vesselsboth of which improve heart health. And
the wine compound resveratrolmore abundant in reds than
in whiteshas been shown to block the growth of fat cells,
regulate blood sugar, and ward of depression. But drink in
moderation: While a glass or two a couple days a week is life-extending,
daily sipping ups your risk for early death, shows a study
from Virginia Tech.
most orange vegetables, pumpkins are crammed with beta carotene,
which your body naturally converts to vitamin A, also known
as retinol. Thats a good thing, because retinol is important
for healthy skin and mucous membranes, as well as immune function
who eat lentils at least twice a week are 24% less likely
to develop breast cancer than women who eat them less than
once a month, studies show. Lentils keep blood sugar steady,
and just a quarter cup of these miniature legumes provides
13 g of protein, 11 g of fiber, and 5 mg of iron. Theyve
also been shown to ward off hypertension.
yolks are home to tons of essential but hard-to-get nutrients,
including choline, which is linked to lower rates of breast
cancer (one yolk supplies 25% of your daily need) and antioxidants
that may help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts.
is a great way to get calcium, and its also rich in
immune-boosting bacteria. But next time you hit the yogurt
aisle, pick up the Greek kindcompared with regular yogurt,
it has twice the protein (and 25% of women over 40 dont
get enough). Fat free varieties are available.
it does a body good: Studies show that calcium isnt
just a bone booster but a fat fighter too. Recent research
from the University of Tennessee found that obese people who
went on a low-calorie, calcium-rich diet lost 70% more weight
than those who ate the least. Vitamin D not only allows your
body to absorb calcium, its also a super nutrient in
its own right. Research shows that adequate D levels can reduce
heart disease risk, ward off certain types of cancer, relieve
back pain, and even help prevent depression, but most of us
dont get nearly enough of the 1,000+ IU daily that most
experts recommend. There are low-fat (skimmed milk) or no
fat varieties available.
is a rich source of vitamin D and one of the best sources
of omega-3s you can find. These essential fatty acids have
a wide range of impressive health benefitsfrom preventing
heart disease to smoothing your skin and aiding weight loss
to boosting your mood and minimizing the effects of arthritis.
Beef or Lamb
meat is one of the best-absorbed sources of iron there is.
(Too-little iron can cause anemia.) Adding as little as 1
ounce of meat per day can make a big difference in the bodys
ability to absorb iron from other sources, says Mary J. Kretsch,
PhD, a researcher at the USDA-ARS Western Human Nutrition
Research Center in Davis, CA. Beef also packs plenty of zinc
(even minor deficiencies may impair memory) and B vitamins,
which help your body turn food into energy.
cooked cupful can provide as much as 17 g fiber. They're also
loaded with protein and dozens of key nutrients, including
a few most women fall short oncalcium, potassium, and
magnesium. Studies tie beans to a reduced risk of heart disease,
type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and breast and colon
a nutshell: USDA researchers say that eating 1½ ounces
of tree nuts daily can reduce your risk of heart disease and
diabetes. Walnuts are rich in omega-3s. Hazelnuts contain
arginine, an amino acid that may lower blood pressure. An
ounce of almonds has as many heart-healthy polyphenols as
a cup of green tea and 1/2 cup of steamed broccoli combined;
they may help lower LDL cholesterol as well. The key is moderation,
since nuts are high in calories.
oats are even healthier than the FDA thought when it first
stamped them with a heart disease-reducing seal 10 years ago.
According to recent research, they can also cut your risk
of type 2 diabetes. When Finnish researchers tracked 4,316
men and women over the course of 10 years, they found that
people who ate the highest percentage of cereal fiber were
61% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
is the most potent plant source of omega-3 fats. Studies indicate
that adding flaxseed to your diet can reduce the development
of heart disease by 46%it helps keep red blood cells
from clumping together and forming clots that can block arteries.
It may also reduce breast cancer odds. In one study, women
who ate 10 g of flaxseed (about 1 rounded tablespoon) every
day for 2 months had a 25% improvement in the ratio of breast
cancer-protective to breast cancer-promoting chemicals in
oil is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (MUFAs),
which lower "bad" LDL cholesterol and raise "good"
HDL cholesterol. Its rich in antioxidants, which may
help reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases,
like Alzheimers. Look for extra virgin oils for the
most antioxidants and flavor.
smooth, buttery fruits are a great source of not only MUFAs
but other key nutrients as well. One Ohio State University
study found that when avocado was added to salads and salsa,
it helped increase the absorption of specific carotenoids,
plant compounds linked to lower risk of heart disease and
macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. "Avocados
are packed with heart-protective compounds, such as soluble
fiber, vitamin E, folate, and potassium," says Elizabeth
Somer, RD, author of 10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman's Diet.
But they are a bit high in calories. To avoid weight gain,
use avocado in place of another high-fat food or condiment,
such as cheese or mayo.
maximum disease-fighting benefits, whip out your old veggie
steamer. It turns out that steaming broccoli lightly releases
the maximum amount of sulforaphane.
spare you the Popeye jokes, but spinach has serious health
muscles. For one thing, it contains lots of lutein, the sunshine-yellow
pigment found in egg yolks. Aside from guarding against age-related
macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness, lutein
may prevent heart attacks by keeping artery walls clear of
cholesterol. Spinach is also rich in iron, which helps deliver
oxygen to your cells for energy, and folate, a B vitamin that
prevents birth defects. Cook frozen spinach leaves (they provide
more iron when cooked than raw) and serve as a side dish with
dinner a few times a week.
are our most common source of lycopene, an antioxidant that
may protect against heart disease and breast cancer.
of the best ways to get vitamin Aan essential nutrient
that protects and maintains eyes, skin, and the linings of
our respiratory, urinary, and intestinal tractsis from
foods containing beta-carotene, which your body converts into
the vitamin. Beta carotene-rich foods include carrots, squash,
kale, and cantaloupe, but sweet potatoes have among the most.
A half-cup serving of these sweet spuds delivers only 130
calories but 80% of the DV of vitamin A.
is a flavor essential and a health superstar in its own right.
The onion relative contains more than 70 active phytochemicals,
including allicin, which studies show may decrease high blood
pressure by as much as 30 points. High consumption of garlic
lowered rates of ovarian, colorectal, and other cancers, according
to a research review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
fruits get all the credit for vitamin C, but red peppers are
one of the best source. Vitamin C may be best known for skin
and immunity benefits. Researchers in the United Kingdom looked
at vitamin C intake in 4,025 women and found that those who
ate more had less wrinkling and dryness.
you think of potassium-rich produce, figs probably dont
come to mind, but you may be surprised to learn that six fresh
figs have 891 mg of the blood pressure-lowering mineral, nearly
20% of your daily needand about double what youd
find in one large banana.
tropical fruit is an excellent source of skin-healing vitamin
C, with 250% of your RDA per serving. One cup of guava has
nearly 5 times as much C as a medium orange (377 mg versus
83 mg)thats more than 5 times your daily need.
Its also loaded with lycopene (26% more than a tomato),
which may help lower your risk of heart disease.
with antioxidant compounds, pomegranates have long been linked
to both heart and brain health. Newer research explains why:
One study found pomegranate polyphenols help your arteries
expand and contract to manage blood flow and prevent hardening.
A separate study found the same antioxidants help ward off
the type of inflammation that leads to Alzheimers disease.
To get the most benefit, eat the fruits seeds and some
of the pith. Both contain healthful compounds.
chocolate is filled with flavonoid antioxidants (more than
3 times the amount in milk chocolate) that keep blood platelets
from sticking together and may even unclog your arteries.It
may also help with weight loss by keeping you feeling full,
according to a study from Denmark.
old bananas are loaded with potassiuma macronutrient
that helps control your blood pressure and keeps your nervous
system operating at peak efficiency. Potassium also lowers
your risk for stroke, according to research from the FDA.
But if youre like most women, youre consuming
only half the potassium your body needs. One banana packs
450 mgabout 10% of your daily potassium targetas
well as fiber to keep your digestive system running smoothly.
bone-strengthening magnesium to immunity-boosting B6, peanut
butter is loaded with many of the vitamins and minerals your
body needs (but probably isnt getting enough of). Its
high fiber and protein content will keep you full for hours,
and peanut butter is also a good source of monosaturated fatsproven
to help you lose weight and ward off diabetes. Creamys
fine, but the crunchy kind typically contains more fiber and
with inflammation-fighting antioxidants that can help fend
off health issues such as heart disease and depression, popcorn
is also the only 100% unprocessed whole grain, meaning its
one of the best snacks to help you meet your daily whole grain
goals. Pop with Olive oil for a healthy alternative.
mushroom compounds have been shown to lower cholesterol and
slow tumor growth associated with some cancers, according
to the American Cancer Society. Mushrooms also increase your
bodys circulating levels of proteins called interferon,
which stop viruses like hepatitis from advancing. Theyre
also a great, low-calorie stand-in for meat.
may not be a trendy superfood, but a 4-oz serving of this
low-cal staple contains nearly half of your daily protein.
Chicken breasts are a great source of phosphorousimportant
for strong bones and teethas well as vitamin B3 (aka
niacin), which helps control high blood pressure and prevents
hardening of the arteries. One serving also contains 25% of
the vitamin B6 you need each day to maintain proper brain
and immune system function.
cruciferous vegetables feature sulfur compounds called glucosinolates,
shown to help lower your risk for several types of cancer,
are among the best sources of heart-healthy omega-3s. In fact,
women who regularly eat the type of long-chain fats found
in sardines enjoy a 38% drop in ischemic heart disease risk,
according to a Danish study. Long-chain omega-3s have also
been shown to limit inflammation and slow tumor growth. The
miniscule fish is a phenomenal source of vitamin B12, which
helps your body make DNA while keeping your nerve and blood
may very well be the most potent age-defying foodtheyre
jam-packed with antioxidants. When researchers at Cornell
University tested 25 fruits for these potent compounds, they
found that tangy-sweet wild blueberries (which are smaller
than their cultivated cousins) packed the most absorbable
antioxidants. Research shows a diet rich in blueberries can
help with memory loss, prevent urinary tract infections, and
of the healthiest fruits you should be eating is one you probably
already are: the apple. The Iowa Womens Health Study,
which has been investigating the health habits of 34,000 women
for nearly 20 years, named apples as one of only three foods
(along with pears and red wine) that are most effective at
reducing the risk of death from heart disease among postmenopausal