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3 Healthy Foods for Women

It’s important for both sexes to eat an array of healthy foods. But if you’re a woman, science shows these seven foods could offer that extra edge.

Food for Women

The first step in any healthy diet is eating a balanced variety of foods, so everyone should start there. But for women, science is showing that there are some foods that can help ward off osteoporosis, heart disease, breast cancer, and even tone down a hot flash or two.

1.   Tomatoes

Ripe and juicy, heirloom and cherry tomatoes are an easy food to love. So it’s just icing on the cake that observational studies suggest lycopene-rich foods like tomatoes may play a role in warding off breast and cervical cancers. Since no clinical trials have tested the hypothesis, it’s not proof positive. And maybe the protection comes from a diet rich in vegetables rather than just one vegetable. If that’s the case, consider tomatoes for heart health.

The right dose: To be determined. But cooking tomatoes, and adding oil, makes lycopene and other antioxidants more readily available.

2.    Salmon

While the omega 3 fats in salmon do everyone a lot of good, women net a few unique benefits. Pregnant? Studies find the oils in fatty fish like salmon can help you beat the post-partum blues, particularly if you ratchet up intake during the third trimester. Building blocks for the brain and nervous system, omega 3 fats are also critical for the developing fetus. In your forties and beyond? Keep in mind that heart disease is still the number one killer of women. And once estrogen levels begin to plummet, eating fatty fish can help keep the ticker healthy.

salmon

The right dose: Two servings (about 4 ounces) of salmon, or other fatty fish, per week.

3.   Walnuts

Noshing on a handful of walnuts may fight both breast cancer and osteoporosis. In one new study, just two ounces of walnuts per day helped delay development of breast cancer and slow tumor growth in mice. Speculation is antioxidants called phytosterols, already known cancer fighters, could be the culprit. Or protective benefits might come from plant based omega 3 fats (walnuts are the only nut to harbor these fats.) If it’s the latter, another study finds diets rich in these same plant based omega 3s are adept at preventing excessive bone turnover which keeps bones strong and healthy.

WalnutThe right dose: Since nuts are calorie dense, one ounce (20 halves/185 calories) is a good place to start.

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