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The Six Super Foods Every Woman Needs

The foods you really need to stay you healthy and strong

Super foods for women: What you need continued...

As a source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, Krause says, beans can help lower cholesterol, while their level of a nutrient known as isoflavone can help in the regulation of hormones and may aid with PMS, perimenopause, or menopause symptoms. Although soybeans have among the highest levels of isoflavones, other sources include red clover, kudzu, mung beans, alfalfa sprouts, black cohosh, and chickpeas.

“Beans also contain something called protease inhibitors, which may help protect against breast cancer,” says Krause. Protease inhibitors help slow the division of cancer cells and in this way may prevent tumor formation.

Last but not least, if you are in your reproductive years, beans can give you a steady supply of folic acid -- essential if you should become pregnant.

Super Food # 4:Tomatoes (or watermelon, red grapefruit, red navel oranges)

Goal: 3 to 5 servings each week

What it does: The powerhouse nutrient in all these fruits is lycopene. And, according to Miller, while the headlines touted its protective effects against prostate cancer, more quiet research has shown it has tremendous health benefits for women as well.

“Research is starting to show that lycopene may protect against breast cancer,” Miller says. "And it’s also a powerful antioxidant that can help a woman fight heart disease.” 

The very latest research shows it may also help keep you looking younger longer by protecting against UV damage from the sun.

Super Food # 5: Vitamin D fortified low fat milk or orange juice 

Goal: At least 400 IUs of vitamin D daily

What it does: “Essential to helping the bones absorb calcium from the gut,” says Somer, “vitamin D helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis and may be vital in reducing the risk of diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and tumors of the breast, colon, and ovary.”

Indeed, recent studies from the University of California San Diego suggest that vitamin D has the potential to prevent up to one–half of all breast, colon, and ovarian cancer in the United States.

Somer tells WebMD that a growing body of research indicates many women may be vitamin D deficient. “A combination of staying out of the sun (which the body uses to manufacture vitamin D) and using sunscreen, which blocks the synthesis of vitamin D, has resulted in many women hitting a dangerously low level of this nutrient,” says Somer.

While Vitamin D is found in salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines, experts say fortified foods, such as milk, are the best source.

Super Food # 6:Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries)

Goal: 3 to 4 servings every week

What It Does: In a way similar to wine, these fruits may protect your body with powerful anti-cancer nutrients known as anthocyans, which are believed to play a role in cell repair. Krause says research shows anthocyans may decrease the risk of several cancers, including those in the breast and gastrointestinal tract.

“These berries,” says Krause, “are also high in vitamin C and folic acid, which is essential for all women in their childbearing years. And they offer powerful anti-oxidant protection, which not only protects the heart but also may protect against skin aging, from the inside out.” Moreover, she tells WebMD that cranberries may help reduce the risk of urinary tract infections in women, while the nutrient, lutein found in all the berries, can help protect vision.

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Reviewed on November 19, 2008

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