Super foods are basically called super because of the nutrients that contain that can protect us against various diseases and strengthen our immune systems. Here is a list of 10 super foods that we feel every woman should have in mind.
1. Parmesan: for strong bones. Adequate intake of calcium is necessary for the prevention of osteoporosis (especially if you are in your 20s). Milk and yogurt help, but who wants to have them 3 times a day? Integrate parmesan in your diet as it contains 340mg of calcium per 30g – compared with 200mg in cheddar cheese or Swiss cheese – this will help you to get closer to the target of 1000mg calcium required daily.
2. Apples: to strengthen the immune system. Another reason why “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is the fact that apples are a rich source of quercetin, an antioxidant that protects our brain cells and enhances the body’s ability to fight diseases. When you eat apples you should also eat their skin since quercetin concentration is the highest in it.
3. Avocado: Flat belly. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats, which have been proven to help reduce weight, including in the waist. In a study, those who consumed more monounsaturated fat (about 23% of daily calories) had about 5 pounds less belly fat than those who followed a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fat.
4. Black chocolate: for stress management and disease control. Researchers in Europe discovered that people who ate 40g of dark chocolate (which contains approximately 200 calories) on a daily basis for 2 weeks resulted into a producing a lot less of the stress hormone called cortisol and did not feel fatigue and act also as a female libido enhancer. Cortisol has the ability to increase blood pressure temporarily. Consistently high cortisol levels increase the risk of depression, obesity and heart disease.
5. Potatoes: Healthy carbohydrates. Potatoes contain a compound against fat storage called resistant starch and which can assist in keeping your weight under control. A medium potato with skin has only 100 calories, and more potassium than bananas, potatoes also help fight heart diseases, and keep blood pressure at a low.
6. Broccoli: to combat wrinkles. One cup of broccoli provides 100% of the vitamin C you need – necessary for the synthesis of collagen, which is the substance responsible for elasticity of our skin. It is also rich in beta-carotene, which is converted by the body into vitamin A. Vitamin A helps to replace the old cells with new cells.
7. Sardines: to fight heart disease. Sardines have been found to be a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation which can lead to clogging of the arteries. They also prevent blood clots which in turn can cause heart attacks and strokes. Note that, 90gr sardines have about 1.3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids with the daily recommended intake being around 1 gram.
8. Lentils: for iron. Lentils ‘build’ your stocks in iron. One cup of lentils has about 30% of your daily iron intake. Approximately 12% of young women have low iron levels which in extreme cases lead to anemia. However, a study found that even women who were iron deficient (not anemia) had lower performance on tests of skills than people with normal levels. Lentils are a good source of iron, but very little is absorbed by our body. The absorption of non-heme iron increases the vitamin C and animal protein contained in red meat, poultry and fish. So to increase significantly the absorption of iron from lentils, include in your meal, a little animal protein (eg fish, poultry, red meat) and foods that are rich sources of vitamin C, such as oranges, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green peppers, grapefruit, lemons and strawberries.
9. Spinach: concentrated with essential nutrients. It is rich in vitamin C and also contains magnesium and calcium – a combination that can help slow the breakdown of bone that occurs as we age – as well as folic acid, which helps prevent birth defects.
10. Mushrooms: with antioxidants against cancer. One study showed that women who ate just one third of a serving of mushrooms daily had a 64% reduction in the risk of breast cancer. Other research suggests that mushrooms reduce the effects of aromatase, a protein that increases the production of estrogen – an important factor for some forms of breast cancer.