The female body is nothing short of amazing. I mean…We have the ability to grow another human inside of us — enough said! Pregnancy aside, there’s a slew of other health factors specific to women, such as menstruation, menopause, and breastfeeding. And because females have an increased risk for conditions related to breast health, cervical health, and bone density, women need to take a proactive approach to support their health. If this sounds overwhelming, we’re here to make it simple. How you ask? With female-focused nutrients that support a healthy mind and body!
While a healthy diet is of course, important for both males and females, women have different nutritional needs than men. A balanced diet loaded with good-for-you nutrients is important! Ahead, we’re sharing the best superfoods for women (or should we say super-women) — from reducing PMS symptoms and belly bloat to supporting lactation and skin, read on for everything you need to know!
And a fun fact for all you ladies — interestingly enough, research shows that when a woman eats healthy, everyone in her household is more likely to follow suit! Sounds like a win-win to us!
#1 Best for PMS-Symptoms: Pumpkin Seeds
For many women, tender breasts, a bloated belly, mood fluctuations (to the max), and water retention mean one thing: it’s that time of the month. If this sounds like you, you’ll want to add this small but mighty seed to your diet! Loaded with fiber, plant-based protein, omega-3 fats, and nutrients like copper, iron, zinc, and vitamins A and B, pumpkin seeds are one of the best superfoods for women’s health. The PMS-soothing star nutrient? Magnesium. For starters, magnesium has been shown to relieve period-induced mood changes, especially when used in combination with vitamin B6. It can also ease breast tenderness and headaches while regulating blood sugar and reducing cravings. Oh, and it’s also a natural muscle relaxer… meaning it helps ease those painful period cramps. Convinced? We thought so!
And since a ¼ cup serving of pumpkin seeds contains nearly 50% of your daily magnesium needs, you’ll want to load up on them.
How to enjoy pumpkin seeds: Add them to a trail mix, blend them into a homemade pumpkin seed milk, grind them into pumpkin butter, add them to your salad, roast them with your favorite spices.
Other magnesium-rich foods: spinach, almonds, avocado, bananas, brown rice.
#2 Best for Healthy Weight: Avocado
Generally speaking, females have a higher body fat percentage and lower metabolic rate than males. While there are a number of contributing factors, female hormones are largely at play. We tend to store fat in those hard-to-get-rid-of areas like our hips and thighs — particularly annoying, I know. But hey, we need those child-bearing hips!
The good news? We may have an advantage over men when it comes to busting belly fat! New research suggests daily consumption of avocado can reduce abdominal visceral fat in women while also promoting healthy weight loss. Interestingly enough, fat loss did not change in males (who, unlike women, are more prone to abdominal fat storage). This is huge news for women as visceral fat is the stubborn fat associated with an increased risk for illness.
And fat loss aside, there are numerous reasons to include this creamy fruit in your diet. A mere ⅓ of an avocado contains less than 100 calories with nearly 20 nutrients. They’re rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, heart-healthy fats like omega-3s that support hormone health, and gut-loving fiber, just to name a few benefits.
How to enjoy avocados: use them in place of mayo or butter on toast or sandwiches, add them to your smoothie, use them as a base for creamy sauces, dips, and dressings, blend them into low-sugar desserts like chocolate shakes or avocado pudding.
#3 Best for Prenatal Health: Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens like spinach, Sajhna or Moringa, Paalak – Spinach, and Sarso-Mustard are rich in folate (Vitamin B9), a nutrient needed for cell growth and red blood cell production. Because folate is a major player in the formation of new cells, this nutrient is especially important during pregnancy. According to research, folate helps form the neural tubes that develop into a growing baby’s spine and brain. If folate levels are deficient, there’s an increased risk for neural tube defects and preterm birth.
While there are many folate-rich veggies to choose from, cooked spinach is the best plant-based source of folate — just 1 cup contains 262 mcg of folate! And it’s super easy to add to your diet. Toss it into a smoothie, add to an omelet, or add on top of a veggie pizza.
How to enjoy dark leafy greens: saute them with a drizzle of oil, add them to smoothies or juices, chop them into a salad, toss them into a soup or stir fry.
Other folate-rich foods: oranges, nuts, beans, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and peas.
#4 Best for Energy: Beans & Legumes
Beans and legumes like chickpeas, lentils, and soybeans all have one energy-boosting nutrient in common: iron. Iron is an essential nutrient needed for the transport of oxygen in the body. If you’re not supplying your brain and body with the oxygen it needs to function, understandably, you’re going to feel pretty depleted and tired! To that extent, loading up on iron-rich foods like beans and legumes helps prevent iron deficiency-related symptoms like fatigue, irritability, and weakness. And because women are more susceptible to iron deficiency due to increased iron needs during pregnancy and monthly blood loss during menstruation, iron is one of those must-have superfoods for women.
How to enjoy beans and legumes: Blend them into hummus, mash them into a chickpea salad, add them to a salad or quinoa dish, bake them into crunchy chickpeas.
Other energy-boosting foods: nuts, seeds, citrus, sweet potatoes, salmon, green tea.
#5 Best for Bloating: Ginger
That can’t-button-your-pants feeling is never fun, which is why ginger is one of our favorite foods for women’s health. Let’s face it — bloating is one of those pesky symptoms us women know all too well. It’s a predominant PMS symptom. But thanks to ginger’s anti-inflammatory benefits, there’s hope for that bloated belly. This powerful food is a known inflammation-buster that has been shown to alleviate abdominal bloat, pain, and discomfort, support digestion, relieve gas and nausea and even support weight loss. Whether it’s that time of the month or you’re just feeling a little distended, spice up your diet with this zesty nutrient.
How to enjoy ginger: make a warming cup of ginger tea, add it to your stir fry or smoothie, blend it into your juice, mix it into your soup for a spicy flavor boost.
Other foods that benefit digestion and bloating: turmeric, yogurt, berries, cucumber, green tea.
#6 Best for Milk Supply: Oats
Being a new mama is already hard enough. You’re likely running on minimal (if any sleep), and you officially have zero personal space. The last thing you need is trouble breastfeeding… But, it happens more than you think. The good news is there are ways to increase milk supply with affordable, easy-prep foods, such as oats! And since they make a nourishing breakfast food that’s loaded with other nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, why not give them a go!?
How to enjoy oats: make them into overnight oats, blend up a homemade oat milk, use oat milk as the base for smoothies or pudding, blend them into flour for baked goods.
Other foods that may benefit lactation: fenugreek, fennel, barley, and other whole grains.
#7 Best for Stress & Mood: Dark Chocolate
There’s a reason women crave chocolate around their period… cocoa and cacao contain mood-boosting benefits! Dark chocolate is rich in polyphenols, antioxidants that have been shown to lower stress levels in the body and promote a feeling of calm. And thanks to its magnesium levels, this tasty treat could even alleviate pain-related PMS symptoms! But, be sure to choose high-quality dark chocolate that is at least 70% to obtain all the stress-busting benefits. You’ll also want to be mindful of sneaky ingredients — opt for a bar that is unsweetened or naturally sweetened and free from artificial foods or additives!
How to enjoy dark chocolate: add it to a trail mix alongside raw nuts and seeds, use it as a topping for your smoothie or yogurt bowl, mix it into your baked foods, melt it on fresh fruit.
Other stress-reducing foods: avocado, salmon, citrus, yogurt, bananas, almonds, berries.