Foods Every Woman Needs To Have In Her Diet

Many women thoughtfully consider the types of food they include in their diets. You may eat a balanced diet with plenty of good-for-you, body-boosting foods. Maybe you consume lots of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins — or maybe not. If the answer lies anywhere in between, you are going to want to review your daily menu and think about your everyday eating habits.

As it turns out, adding just a few key foods to your grocery shopping list could have a whole host of health benefits. Regularly eating things like leafy greens and seafood could reduce your risk of serious diseases, lower your blood pressure, support cognition, and even help to give you glowing skin and a radiant head of hair. 

So before you plop any ole thing on your plate or opt for a salty or sugary highly processed pre-packaged snack, peruse through Health Digest's list of fridge, freezer, and pantry must-haves. You are what you eat, after all; and we want you to feel fabulous and be the strongest and happiest version of yourself. So pull up your meal plan and start reading — bon appétit. 

Every woman should add these vegetables to her produce list

Want to keep your ticker healthy and strong? Eat broccoli — and lots of it. Feel free to also add in Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a woman's risk of cardiovascular problems decreases as she consumes more cruciferous veggies. Those who ate 45 grams worth of such vegetables saw a 46 percent decrease in the likelihood of developing aortic calcification (a potential sign of heart disease). This may have to do with the high levels of Vitamin K in broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, according to the researchers.

Whatever the reason, it is enough to get us motivated to munch on some crudités or steam up some cabbage. But, don't forget, variety is the spice of life — and maybe the key to health. The study's lead author, Dr. Lauren Blekkenhorst, suggests switching things up: "We should be eating a wide variety of vegetables every day for overall good health and wellbeing" (via Forbes). 

Beets are one of the best veggies for women

If you are going to try to introduce one healthy new veg into your diet, let it be beets. These versatile babies are loaded with vitamins and nutrients. As noted in Self's nutrition data, cooked beets are low in calories and high in folate, Vitamin C, dietary fiber, and potassium. 

What's more, they are chock full of inflammation-fighting antioxidants and betalains (pigments) that can potentially ward off all sorts of diseases, including cancer (via Healthline). Finally, they can naturally lower blood pressure. A 2013 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Nutrition found that "inorganic nitrate and beetroot juice supplementation was associated with a significant reduction in systolic BP [blood pressure]." These same beet-sourced nitrates may also be responsible for improving cognitive function and capacity, according to an article in Nutrients.

Still not convinced you want to stain your fingers with that deep purple root vegetable? Consider juicing them to drink your beets straight out of a glass. Fresh beet juice packs a powerful punch of nutrition. And, by the way, beet leaves are edible, too and also loaded with goodness — treat them like spinach; simply cook and eat (via Healthline).

Salmon (or sardines) are good for women's health

If you only eat one type of fish make it salmon. Not only is the ray-finned fish chock full of Vitamin B12, a key ingredient for your blood and DNA, it's also got those oh-so amazing omega-3 fatty acids your body just loves but is unable to produce on its own. As explained by WebMD, these essential fats do all sorts of amazingness for your health — including lowering your risk of several serious conditions, like cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's, and certain types of cancers. They can also help reduce the painful symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis — a condition that is both more painful and more prevalent in women. Per the health site, adults should consume 8 ounces of the good-for-you fish each week. So roast it, bake it, or eat it smoked on a bagel with a smear of cream cheese. Delicious!

If you want a quick and easy straight out-of-the-can meal, sardines are another option that pack a major punch of nutritional goodness, including a whopping portion of those all-important omega-3 fatty acids. You can chop them up, add them to a salad, or slip those little suckers right down your throat for some instant protein (via Livestrong).

Kale is not just trendy, it's a superfood for women

Kale has gotten a reputation for being the hipster's crunchy food of choice, but this trendy green makes more than a statement in your salad. Yes, it can make you a healthier, more vibrant version of yourself.

Nutritionist Mays Al-Ali told Women's Health that kale has a multitude of "bioactive compounds" that boast "powerful medicinal properties." Indeed, with lots of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and Vitamin A, it packs a hearty dose of nutrients that can lower your risk of diabetes, cancer, help with blood pressure issues, and lower asthma symptoms. What is more, eating a diet full of kale can help your bones stay strong and keep your hair and skin looking radiant, per the publication.

"Kale is one of my key 'Detox Warriors', which I add to smoothies, curries and stir-fries for an added antioxidant boost," nutritionist Angelique Panagos told Women's Health. "It's packed with phytonutrients that support all your body's detoxification organs, ridding our body of toxins and spent hormones, benefiting all aspects of our health." So should you add more of the vegetable to your diet? The answer is a resounding "kale yeah!"

Blueberries are among the best fruits for women

Research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics indicated that eating blueberries can lower blood pressure in postmenopausal women, a group that is especially prone to hypertension. 

So what gives blueberries this blood pressure-reducing effect? As explained by Women's Health Research at Yale, these bold-hued berries have flavonoids and anthocyanins, two types of inflammation-reducing, cell-damage-reversing antioxidants that foster the blood vessels' ability to make nitric oxide. This enables a key physiological reaction that helps dilate blood vessels to improve blood flow, in turn, lowering blood pressure. What's more, a separate study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that a diet rich in blueberries can help improve muscle regeneration in younger women. 

When the fruit isn't in season, consider buying a bulk bag of frozen blueberries; they're just as good for you. South Dakota State University Professor Basil Dalaly  explained to ScienceDaily that berries are frozen almost immediately after they're harvested. As such, they don't lose nutritional content or antioxidants in the process. "Some claim it's the world's healthiest food," she said of blueberries. Indeed, as noted by the science site, they're good for your nervous system, eyes, and urinary tract.

Beans, beans — they really are a magical fruit for every woman

Registered dietitian Susan Krause told WebMD that beans "are among one of the healthiest things a woman can eat." Loaded with protein and chock full of fiber, beans have a cholesterol-reducing effect. What's more the isoflavones in many varieties can help to regulate those pesky hormones that cause all sorts of symptoms before and during your period and whilst going through perimenopause or menopause. Plus, they have lots of folic acid, so they are a great option for pregnant women (and, well, all women!).

Perhaps most impressive of all is their potential to lower your risk of getting breast cancer. As explained by Krause, "Beans also contain something called protease inhibitors." These work to reduce the rate at which cancer cells divide, potentially pausing or even stopping a tumor from forming. In fact, a study in the International Journal of Cancer, found that a diet rich in beans and lentils could potentially reduce a woman's likelihood of developing the disease. Of course, more research is needed. Nevertheless, it's enough to motivate us to add a heaping portion to our next salad.

Almonds have benefits every woman will appreciate

Almonds make for a delicious and surprisingly satisfying snack that fuels the body and gives you some health-boosting benefits. As noted by Health, their brown tops are loaded with cell-protective antioxidants. Plus, they have lots of vitamin E which also prevents some level of oxidative stress, helps with inflammation, enhances blood flow, and boosts your immune system. What's more, these compounds can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. The magnesium in almonds can also help to stabilize your mood, foster and improve sleep, and keep your blood sugar stable.

But that's just the tip of the almond iceberg. The nut works wonders for your heart, helping to get your cholesterol where it needs to be and improving your overall vascular health. What's more, they perform like prebiotics, helping to boost your gut health which has a ripple effect on the functioning of your whole body and mind.

And if all those mentioned benefits aren't enough to have you shoveling almonds by the handful, perhaps their prettifying perks will. A study published in Phytotherapy Research found that eating almonds could even have a wrinkle-reducing effect.

Go ahead, women, indulge in more dark chocolate

Don't worry, you won't have to relegate yourself to a strict diet of green vegetables and fresh fruits. You can indulge and feel good about it, too. As it turns out, dark chocolate can satisfy your sweet tooth and help your heart thanks to its high level of polyphenolic flavonoids.

In one 2014 study, researchers found that women who ate a single piece of high-quality dark chocolate each day for two weeks experienced in a marked change in cortisol and epinephrine hormone reactivity to psychosocial stress. In other words, eating dark chocolate can potentially help "buffer" stress and change your body's physiological response — thus, protecting your heart from a major risk factor of cardiovascular disease.

Of course, many findings about dark chocolate's benefits aren't exactly "new." As pointed out by Medical News Today, ancient Mayans considered dark chocolate precious and revered. Furthermore, chocolate has long been shown to lower blood pressure, help improve insulin response, and reduce the likelihood of blood clot development.

An apple a day may really keep the doctor away

It turns out that there might actually be some truth to the old adage, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." As noted by Healthline, apples are loaded with vitamins and nutrients, high in soluble fiber, and full of polyphenols — those powerful antioxidants that work to reduce oxidative damage in the body's cells. As noted by research in Nutrients, these polyphenols may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses.

Additionally, an analysis published in Advances in Nutrition cited a Women's Health Study indicating that women who eat an apple a day have an approximately 28 percent reduction in risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This same review also noted that apple consumption might help improve bone health and strength — something that's very important for women as they age. What's more, a study in The British Journal of Nutrition indicated that regularly eating apples could potentially lower a woman's cancer mortality risk. Oh, and an apple a day can keep you satisfied in more ways than one; they've been shown to boost sexual arousal and pleasure, per a 2014 study. Woohoo!

Pomegranates are sweet and beneficial to a woman's diet

Pomegranates can be used in all sorts of delicious ways. Just cut into that big juicy fruit and get to those glistening and juicy little seeds. They are delightful in yogurt, on salads, or added to smoothies (via Healthline). Plus, they work wonders for your body.

A study published in Cancer Prevention Research found that ellagitannins, a key compound found in pomegranates, can stop the development of estrogen-responsive breast cancer. What is more, a pomegranate's antioxidant content helps to reduce inflammation throughout the body and cells, which could help ease arthritis symptoms, prevent the development of cognitive degeneration and Alzheimer's Disease, and enhance stomach and gut health.

These same active polyphenols can also help to promote fertility in women, as they work to undo oxidative stress, cell damage that has been shown to negatively impact a woman's ability to get pregnant.

Every woman should add avocados to her diet

There are plenty of reasons to hop on the avocado toast trend other than its deliciousness factor. Avocados are loaded with health and beauty benefits, and guacamole is a great excuse to also have a margarita — if that's not motivation enough, we don't know what is.

Those who regularly eat avocados might just be healthier all around. You can give credit to the creamy green fruit or the possibility that those who love them tend to gravitate toward healthier diets. Either way, the fact is: Eating avocados regularly is linked to a better, more nutrient-rich diet. Furthermore, it's also associated with a lowered risk of metabolic syndrome (via Nutrition Journal). 

Avocados have been shown to lower blood pressure thanks to their high potassium content. And in addition to helping your body be its best, avocados can also ensure that you look your best. The monounsaturated fat in them gives your complexion a radiant glow and strengthens your mane and nails. What's more, avocados have lutein which is good for your ocular health (via Women's Health). Oh, and we should also mentioned they're an aphrodisiac. 

Women should up their protein intake with eggs

Eggs, especially egg yolks, have a bad reputation. The reality: They pack a ton of protein, boast 13 important vitamins and nutrients, and have key antioxidants that can help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, as the San Francisco Chronicle highlighted. Indeed, they are high in cholesterol, but multiple studies cited by Healthline found that they don't necessarily cause a spike in "bad" cholesterol and can, in fact, raise your "good" cholesterol to where you want it to be. Of course, the site also noted that some people respond to foods differently; it is possible that eggs should be on your no-no list.

Nevertheless, most people can feel free to have that omelet in the morning. Just maybe consider getting high-quality pasture-raised eggs as they boast more of those awesome omega-3 fatty acids your body needs. And take note of one caveat: Dietitian Dr. Joanna McMillan told Women's Health Australia that while consuming eggs is usually favorable to your health, "it matters what you eat your eggs with. Frying them in refined oil and serving with white bread and bacon is not the way to go!"

Yogurt is a must for every woman

Yogurt can be a delightful breakfast, easy on-the-go lunch, or super satisfying midday snack. Either way, eating it on the daily will do your body good. It's got lots of calcium, protein, and vitamins — so next time you're looking for something smooth and creamy, reach for a container of Greek yogurt.

A study published in Nutrition Research noted that women who eat yogurt on a recurring basis tend to have lower blood glucose, lower blood pressure, and lower triglyceride levels than women who don't eat yogurt. Ultimately, this translates to a reduced risk of getting a chronic disease. The research also indicated these yogurt enthusiasts typically have fewer vitamin deficiencies.

What's more, yogurt might just make your tummy feel better. Research published in Acta Gastroenterologica Latinoamericana found that the probiotics in yogurt help keep things moving and grooving in the gastrointestinal systems of women — meaning less constipation, less bloating, and less tummy pain. Just be aware when you visit your local grocery store that not all yogurts are created equal. Read the label and, at the very least, make sure your pick is not loaded with sugar (via Healthline).

Milk really does do a woman's body good

Milk has often been the target of diet naysayers. Many have turned to non-dairy milk options in an attempt to ward off the traditional milk man for good. However, dairy milk boasts lots of nutrients, protein, and carbohydrates whereas a majority of alternatives have way fewer nutrients and significantly less protein — often with a hearty dose of added sugar, according to registered dietitian and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson Melissa Majumdar (via O, The Oprah Magazine).

Dairy milk might not be perfect, and you might need to consider the version that's best for you (whole vs. low-fat), but it is great for your heart, good for your muscles, and potentially beneficial for your skin. Of course, as you probably know, milk's calcium content is good for your bones. Obstetrician-gynecologist Heather Beall explained to O why this is so critical for women: "It's important to get enough calcium in your diet so you're prepared for the bone loss that accompanies menopause. Eating adequate calcium can help ... keep your bones stronger and prevent fractures and osteoporosis." So drink to your health.

Tomatoes are a powerhouse food for women

Tomatoes are as versatile as they are juicy. And whether you choose to slice one for a sandwich, stew them into a sauce, or pop the grape-sized ones straight into your mouth as a snack, you are treating your body to a superfood that is loaded with health benefits.

As explained by Medical News Today, tomatoes boast a hearty dose of folate, which aids in the regulation of homocysteine levels, thereby lowering the potential of enduring a cardiovascular episode. Furthermore, folate is an essential part of a pregnant woman's diet. Yes, if you are expecting, tomatoes are an especially great addition to salads, meals, and menus of all sorts. The high fiber content of tomatoes also makes them a great answer to constipation and a good choice for those at risk for type 2 diabetes. 

Additionally, tomatoes have eye-protecting antioxidants and, as a study published in the International Journal of Clinical Oncology indicated, foods high in beta-carotene (like some varieties of tomatoes) can reduce one's risk of developing colon cancer. Tomayto, tomahto — either way you slice it, make sure you're getting a plentiful serving of this fruit.