4 health-boosting foods for women

By: Dr. Joey Shulman DC, RNCP

Author: Canadian Living


4 health-boosting foods for women

By: Dr. Joey Shulman DC, RNCP
It's no surprise that women have unique nutritional needs at varying stages of their lives. From puberty to child-bearing years to menopause, women require an ever-changing amount of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants to help them look and feel their very best.

Below are a few superfoods you should be enjoying on a regular basis in order to stay at the top of your health game and to meet the demands of your particular stage of life.

1. Cabbage
Both the red and green varieties of cabbage contain indole-3-carbinol, sulphurous compounds and enzymes that detoxify the body and encourage the removal of excess estrogen. The enzymes in cabbage also boost the production of antioxidants that deactivate carcinogens and prevent abnormal growth. For this reason, regular consumption of cabbage is linked to a lower risk of colon cancer and estrogen-related cancers such as breast cancer – two cancers that often strike women approaching menopause. To get the biggest benefit out of the enzymes in cabbage, eat it raw by tossing some shredded cabbage with your favorite vinaigrette for a simple slaw.

Try our Vinaigrette Cabbage Salad.

2. Olive oil
Olive oil is a signature component of one of the healthiest diet patterns in the world – the Mediterranean diet. Studies have linked olive oil to a decreased risk of breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes. The benefits of olive oil are largely due to the high concentration of plant phenols. Plant phenols help keep blood vessels open and free of oxidative stress, leading to better circulation, blood pressure and heart health. Swapping your saturated butter for monounsaturated extra-virgin olive oil also helps ensure that belly fat doesn't creep up on you. Invest in a good-quality extra-virgin olive oil – which is often a vibrant green, not yellow – to maximize the phenolic value of this healthy fat.

Find out which olive oil will go best with your meal.

Page 1 of 2 Find out what other superfoods can boost your health on page 2.
3. Quinoa
By now you’ve probably heard about the supergrain called quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) and perhaps you’ve even tried a recipe or two with it. Quinoa is a busy woman’s best friend because you can cook it in large amounts and serve it up warm or cold as a quality source of protein, iron, calcium, zinc and essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are proven mood-boosters for the bouts of depression that commonly plague women at various life stages and monthly cycle stages. The hefty dose of zinc in one cup of quinoa (15 per cent of your daily requirement) helps to metabolize depression-busting essential fats, while the protein supplies your body with tryptophan, the building block for serotonin, making quinoa the ultimate PMS, postpartum or perimenopausal food.

Try our Quinoa and Barley Salad.

4. Flaxseeds
Want relief from hot flashes, PMS, endometriosis, constipation or acne related to hormonal changes? Grind up some flaxseeds instead of coffee beans as part of your morning wake-up routine. Sprinkling flaxseeds on your cereal, yogurt or salad is an easy way to get anti-inflammatory omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and hormone-balancing lignans into your body. Lignans bind to estrogen receptors taking the spot of estrogen your body has made, thereby diminishing its action on the ovaries and other estrogen-sensitive organs. A final word on flaxseeds versus flaxseed oil: Both are beneficial for women's health, however flaxseed oil, while higher in ALA, contains no lignans or fibre. So if your goal is relief from PMS, hot flashes or constipation opt for the seeds.

Some other superfoods you should be eating include:
• blueberries
• spinach
• lentils
• lemons
• salmon
• eggs
• broccoli
• and of course, always remember to drink your water!

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Dr. Joey Shulman is the author of the bestselling book The Last 15: A Weight Loss Breakthrough (Wiley, 2007) and is founder of the Shulman Weight Loss Clinic. For more information, visit

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4 health-boosting foods for women