As a woman who is less concerned with fitting into the trendiest pair of jeans or messing up her perfectly polished nails, I find myself becoming more interested in foods that can keep me healthy and looking it, all at the same time. I’m not one to care much about the latest fashion trend or the new “must-have” bag, but I am concerned with eating in a way that protects my heart, strengthens my mind and body, and keeps my mood balanced on a daily basis.
Women’s hormones change so dramatically each month that if we’re not careful, we can find ourselves tired, moody, cranky, and looking frazzled at the drop of a hat. Though rest and exercise are extremely important to everyone (including both men and women), eating a healthful, plant-based diet is also one of the most prominent things a woman (and man) can do to better their health, all in a short amount of time.
If you’re a woman who’s ever been nervous about missing out on certain nutrients while eating a plant-based diet, I have good news for you: it’s completely possible to take care of yourself on a plant-based diet. You’ll actually feel much calmer, happier, and more satiated eating fiber-rich, wholesome plant-based foods than acidic animal foods that can harm your hormones and possibly cause calcium loss. You might even prevent certain cancers on a plant-based diet, according to Dr. Michael Greger.
Not sure what to eat? We’ve got you covered. These 10 plant-based foods are proven to nourish a woman’s body from the inside out and keep you satiated all throughout the day.
Leafy greens are full of magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron, fiber, protein, vitamins A, C, and E, and contain chlorophyll that keep your blood and digestive system cleansed on a day to day basis. During certain times of the month, you can become low on iron and magnesium. Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, romaine, collards, and cabbage can keep your body lean and keep your blood sugar stable. Magnesium rich foods like greens help to relieve headaches, stress, low-blood sugar, and they keep your hair and skin glowing as a bonus! Here are six ways to get them into your diet without even thinking about it.
2. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes provide a satiating fill of carbohydrates that are released slowly into the bloodstream. Sweet potatoes also keep your skin looking lovely due to their high beta-carotene content. Their fiber is also easy to digest and makes a nice replacement to those who have a hard time tolerating grains and legumes. They’re also a rich source of magnesium, vitamin B6, and tryptophan which optimize your mood and prevent anxiety and depression. If you’re tired of the usual baked version, try these yummy Maple and Tarragon Sweet Potato slices for dinner. Or combine sweet potatoes and kale in these hearty Sweet Potato and Kale Patties. Both of these recipes are sure to satisfy your belly and your soul!
Bananas are such an awesome superfood! They’re incredibly rich in vitamin B6 to relieve nervous tension. They help keep you fuller longer than other fruits like grapes and melons, and their sugars are released slowly into the bloodstream to provide energy all throughout the day. They’re also a great source of magnesium, which helps relieve cramps, headaches, and prevent a moody demeanor. Plus, who doesn’t love bananas whipped into some oatmeal or a smoothie? Yum! Check out these delicious banana recipes if you want some especially creative (and easy) ideas for special occasions.
Berries are a powerful food for women due to their effects on estrogen in the body. Berries help eliminate harmful toxic, environmental “mock” estrogens that can mess with our endocrine system. They also contain fiber and antioxidants, along with vitamins and minerals to optimize our heart, skin, and digestive health. Best of all, berries give your recipes a sweet flavor without the need for refined sugar (which we all know we crave rather heftily during certain times of the month.) Try out blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, cranberries, goji berries and acai berries as a great way to get your fill.
5. Winter Squash
Much like sweet potatoes, winter squash such as acorn, kabocha, butternut, and pumpkin are powerhouse foods to include in your diet. If sugary, carb-rich foods is what you crave, winter squash is a great way to satisfy that craving in a more nutritious way than refined sugar. I like to stick a whole squash in the oven on a baking pan (no oil or spray needed to coat the pan.) Bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes to one hour and when it’s done, let it cool down for about 20 minutes before cutting it on a cool glass plate away from the stove (just use oven mitts to transfer the squash from the pan to the plate.)
Then just slice open the squash, remove the seeds and eat the halves as an alternative to baked potatoes. You can also just scoop out the flesh to make pureed squash like you would use potatoes for mashed potatoes. I love topping my squash with some black pepper and cinnamon for a delicious, satisfying sweet meal that’s full of vitamin A, fiber, water, and potassium to beat bloat and lower your blood pressure. Plus, winter squash is one of the best foods to fight gut inflammation and heal chronic gut problems since it’s high in vitamin A and C, along with water and easy-to-digest fiber. It’s also a perfect replacement to grains in your diet if they cause digestive issues for you.
Oats are full of B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and protein. They’re also a plentiful source of fiber and complex carbohydrates that empty slowly into the bloodstream to prevent blood sugar spikes. Oats are also low-glycemic and anti-inflammatory and they can even help you sleep better and lose weight. Enjoy them with some raisins or mulberries in your next breakfast cereal and try baking with them in place of flour to make your cookies and muffins much healthier for you. Oats help give you energy to last all throughout the day and they reduce moodiness and fatigue due to their nutrient profile. Try some Healthy Oat Squares with Coconut and Dates out for breakfast if you’re tired of the usual hot oatmeal.
A half cup of dried figs contains more calcium than an eight ounce glass of milk! Dried and fresh figs are both wonderful sources of antioxidants and are both alkaline (whereas most dried fruits are acidic). Dried figs have a delicious, caramelized flavor that make them much more flavorful than dates, which most people turn to for raw recipes. Black Mission figs (the dark purple varieties) are especially rich in antioxidants, and all figs contain more fiber than dates or raisins. Dried figs can be used in raw cakes, in a delicious vegan and gluten-free version of Fig Newtons, and in this incredible Brain Food Porridge.
Asparagus is a rich source of folate, which is essential to women’s health. Folate is a B vitamin that is plentifully found throughout many vegan foods and one that’s important for healthy bones, growth, and brain health. Asparagus is also a wonderful source of potassium to keep your blood pressure low. It’s rich in probiotics that feed your good gut bacteria, and it’s an incredibly rich source of fiber. Asparagus is also much easier to digest than more popular (yet healthy) veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, and it’s a wonderful source of vitamin B6 for optimal nerve health and energy. This raw vegan asparagus soup would be a perfect dish to include in your diet for weight loss and to keep bloat at bay around the clock. If you need something more hearty, give this healthy Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto a try; it’s sure to satisfy your need for comfort food in a nutritious way.
Yes, women need chocolate (or at least I’m convinced that we do!) Cacao isn’t just chocolate, though. Cacao is its own superfood in so many ways. It’s a powerful source of iron, protein, fiber, zinc, calcium, B vitamins, magnesium, and even vitamin C. It helps prevent erratic nerves, can lower rates of depression in women and men, can help conquer monthly mood swings, can aid in mental focus (even more than coffee) and is especially awesome for providing energy without a bit of a crash like harsher stimulants do. Try cacao powder, nibs, paste, and even raw dark chocolate made with at least 70 percent cacao for the healthiest option. These colorful cacao treats are sure to satisfy your cravings and give you a powerful dose of nutrients through a variety of vegan superfoods.
10. Wild or Brown Rice
Wild rice is actually a grass, not a grain, so it’s incredibly easy to digest and is completely gluten and grain-free. Wild rice is also a powerful source of antioxidants and rich in potassium, B vitamins, fiber, protein, and slow digesting carbohydrates. It has an especially nutty flavor, looks similar to other rices and cooks just like any other type of rice you’d buy. All rice (especially wild, brown, and black rice) are great for women due to their high magnesium and potassium content, which help to combat bloating, fatigue, high blood pressure, and stress. They’re also very easy to digest and can help give women adequate nutrition if they don’t tolerate other grains or many beans or legumes. Try out a variety of organic rices but leave regular white rice on the shelf since it’s devoid of fiber and nutrients. This Wild Rice with Kabocha and Sage Butter is a dangerously decadent (though healthy) recipe and is just perfect for the fall season. Not sure about the best way to cook rice? This guide to How to Cook The Perfect Brown Rice is sure to help you out.
Other powerful foods for women include:
Which of these foods are your favorites and which ones would you like to give a try if you’re not eating them already?
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!
Lead image source: Why Vegan Women Have Fewer Female Cancers