At different stages of a woman’s life, optimal nutrition and proper diet are the cornerstones of good health. Starting from puberty to pregnancy to menopause, a woman has unique nutritional needs, including needing more of certain vitamins and minerals during different parts of her life cycle. Many women tend to neglect their dietary needs because of their busy schedules, work pressure or family responsibilities; hence they are more prone to nutritional deficiencies.
Research has proven that there are a lot of Superfoods which if included as a part of a regular diet in a woman’s plate can prevent against various diseases like cancers including breast cancer, ovarian cancer, vaginal infections, pregnancy-related issues, PMS related issues and many more. To combat malnutrition, some essential vitamins and minerals play an important role in a woman’s life. The following are some superfoods that can provide these micronutrients:
Curd is one of the important food items for women because of its high calcium content. Women require more calcium than men. If there is a deficiency of calcium in the diet, the body takes calcium from the bones to ensure normal cell function which can lead to weakened bones or osteoporosis. As women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis it is important to get plenty of calcium in the diet. Curd is also a great source of probiotics, which helps in gut motility & enhances digestion; therefore reducing constipation or diarrohoea. Curd contains a good amount of protein which helps boost the feeling of satiety and enhance weight loss.
Egg is a good source of Vitamin B12, and Folate – both essential nutrients for women's health. Vitamin B12 reduces the risk of anaemia which is most prevalent amongst women. Folates reduce the risk of neurological birth defects during pregnancy, reduces the risk for heart disease and certain types of cancer in women. Egg is one of the best sources of the nutrient Choline. Studies have shown that women with a high intake of choline were 24% less likely to get breast cancer. Along with this, egg has Calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin A also.
Spinach is filled with Iron, Folate and Vitamin K. Anaemia is the most common problem among women. Heamoglobin carries oxygen in the blood, which is made out of iron. Due to blood loss during menstruation or during pregnancy and lactation, the requirement increases for women. It has a high Vitamin A and fiber content which helps to ward off a variety of cancers, including colon and lung cancer. The antioxidants present in spinach helps in collagen production which also helps smoothen the skin.
Guava is important for good health in a woman because of its high Vitamin C content. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption and helps prevent anemia in women. Its lycopene and antioxidants are good for skin health. Guava encourages our body to absorb other key nutrients from the food because of its Manganese content. Guava also contains calcium which in turn prevents osteoporosis in women.
Flaxseeds are an important source of omega 3 fatty acid, which is essential for brain & eye development. For women, omega 3 fatty acid eases the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome or PMS. Omega 3 is good for skin and hair too.
Soyabeans are a great source of iron, folate, Cancium, Magnesium. Eating moderate amounts of soy food reduces the risk of breast cancer among women. Soy contains phytoestrogen, a plant estrogen which helps in a similar way like human estrogen, an important hormone in women's bodies.
Along with a regular diet, if women can focus on these foods rich in various micronutrients, it would be beneficial for them as well as for the society as women are the backbone of society!
By Soumita Biswas, Chief Nutritionist, Aster RV Hospital