Do women really need to eat any differently than men? After all, we’re all human. While this is certainly true, a woman’s nutritional needs are more specific than a man’s. Pam Peeke, M.D., M.Ph., author of Fight Fat After 40 (Viking 2000) and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine explains why:
“Women are special. They have unique nutritional requirements to keep them energized and focused, especially as they age. And that means over the age of 30! Here’s a great list of foods that every woman needs to incorporate into her weekly diet to guarantee that as each year goes by, she stays as healthy and fit as she can.”
So, just because you work like a man and play even harder, your diet should be a bit more ladylike. We’ve listed down the top foods you need to fuel that beautiful, wonderful, womanly body.
10: Soy protein
Soy protein is found in products like tofu and soymilk to soy nut butter and cereal. Soy protein is heart healthy (helps lower “bad” cholesterol levels) and is rich in phytonutrients. Aim for up to 25 grams of soy protein per day.
9: Whole grains
Whole grains are high in fiber and therefore help strip off digestive problems that are so common in women. Try to incorporate more whole grains like brown rice, bran flakes, whole-grain breads, barley, and quinoa into your diet.
8: Foods rich in folate
Foods rich in folate include asparagus, oranges, fortified cereals, and beans. Folate is important during pregnancy for ensuring proper neural tube development of the fetus. Make sure to get the RDA of 400 micrograms (mcg) per day.
7: Cranberries and cranberry juice
The proanthocyanidins found in cranberries help prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder, thus warding off urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Though it’s not a food, water is important for all metabolic processes in the body. It also helps with digestion, weight loss, and improves the appearance of the skin. Drinking eight to 10, eight-ounce glasses of water each day is key.
Nuts are full of monounsaturated fats, which can help lower cholesterol levels, and polyunsaturated fats, which can help prevent heart disease. Plus, nuts are a good source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, selenium, folate, vitamin E, and vitamin A.
4: Green leafy vegetables
This category of vegetable includes everything from kale to bok choy to darker lettuces. These vegetables provide important nutrients as well as fiber .
3: Fruits rich in vitamin C
These include citrus fruits, strawberries, green and red peppers, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, potatoes, kiwi, guava and parsley. Fruits rich in vitamin C have recently been linked to a decreased risk of coronary heart disease. Fit two to three servings (or more) of fruit into your daily diet.
2: Iron-rich foods
Due to their monthly cycles, premenopausal women need more iron. Good sources of iron are garbanzo beans, lean beef, Swiss chard, tofu, and dried apricots. Women need 12 to 15 milligrams of iron each day, compared to just 10 to 12 milligrams for men.
1: Calcium-rich foods
Calcium helps keep bones strong and along with regular weight-bearing exercise, helps to stave off osteoporosis. Good choices are low-fat dairy products and dark green leafy vegetables (kale, broccoli, collard greens).
Note: If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, please consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet, as you may require different amounts of some of the nutrients listed.