Getting older comes with its fair share of challenges. You’re more at risk for diseases. You may lack positive thinking about how your appearance changes. And your body needs more carefully chosen meals in order to continue functioning healthily. For women, the added challenge of menopause and other risks can be a little overwhelming.
Choosing foods intelligently as you age can help to reduce the risks of many complications in your later years. They’ll keep you healthy and make sure you’re alive and kicking for more decades to come! Here’s how dieticians reveal 5 best foods for women over 40.
Broccoli is a green cruciferous vegetable, many children cite it as the “least favorite vegetable.” Luckily, they’re likely to be safe avoiding the veggie until they hit a certain age. But for those who grow to be women, at the age of 40, that broccoli could be very useful!
According to NYC Surgical Associates’ Dr. David Gruener, MD, broccoli is packed with all sorts of minerals and vitamins that provide multiple benefits to the body.
Here are some of the ways it can help:
LOWERS BAD CHOLESTEROL
Multiple studies indicate that broccoli is capable of reducing bad cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol while balancing and bringing down triglyceride levels. It is also known to help boost levels of positive cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. This can help heart health and prevent the onset of cardiovascular diseases. Those may be a concern for those aged 40 and above.
PROMOTES BONE AND JOINT HEALTH
As you age, you are more likely to develop joint or bone problems. Broccoli can help curb some of those effects, as it provides calcium and vitamin K. These two components are vital in the health and strength of bones, say studies. But that’s not all! Zinc, phosphorus, vitamin A, and vitamin C are also largely present in broccoli, and those ingredients might be able to aid bone strength while preventing osteoarthritis.
SLOWS MENTAL DECLINE
Mental decline is a huge concern for many over the age of 40. Studies have found that broccoli – and other dark green vegetables – may successfully reduce the rate of mental decline while boosting nervous tissue function. Other research indicates that a compound called kaempferol, which is present in broccoli, can reduce neural inflammation and brain injury risk. There is also sulforaphane in broccoli which further supports brain health thanks to its effects on balancing inflammation in the organ. It’s worth noting, of course, that most studies in this realm are animal-based, and more research is needed for conclusive human evidence.
One of the biggest anti-aging factors of broccoli is that it, on the whole, completely eases the aging process in a rather impressive and very positive way. This is due to sulforaphane, one of broccoli’s main bioactive nutrients, which may be able to increase antioxidant gene expression. Antioxidants fight the oxidation process of cells, thus reducing oxidative stress and helping to smoothen out natural aging so it happens gracefully and with fewer complications.
2. FATTY FISH
Fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, and herring are rich in healthy fats that work wonders for the body. Physician and Ethos Medical Spa Medical Director Dr. Hardik Soni, MD, states that the omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish varieties are fantastic for women, especially aging women. Here are some reasons why:
Heart conditions are among the world’s most common causes of premature death, specifically strokes and heart attacks. The fatty acids in fish can prevent this by having positive effects on the heart, reducing the risks of developing such problems.
Women over the age of 40 typically experience fluctuations in their hormone levels due to the onset of menopause and the gradual changes leading up to it. Fatty fish with healthy fats can help manage those hormones so they don’t become too skewed.
It’s common for mental facilities and cognitive abilities to worsen as one ages. That’s one of the reasons fatty fish can be so good for women over 40 – it works to help reduce the severity of cognitive decline and slow its progress over time, according to studies.
Many older adults suffer from age-related macular degeneration, and research seems to imply that omega-3 fatty acids – specifically from fish – can reduce the risk of such a development. In fact, a study brought the risk down by 42% among women!
3. FLAX SEEDS
Flax seeds – especially freshly ground ones – are capable of fighting aging in multiple different ways. They’re good for the skin and moisture and also deliver all sorts of nutrients. Dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey, who is also the founder and CEO of a skincare company named after herself, touts flax seeds as superfoods that rally hard against aging. Here are some ways that they do so:
REDUCED BLOOD PRESSURE
Blood pressure struggles often worsen as you get older. If you’re over the age of 40, you might be especially concerned about it. Flax seeds are capable of reducing blood pressure and balancing it out, and multiple studies have found this to be true. Even just 30 grams, consumed daily over half a year, can considerably lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure. When taken with blood pressure medication, it can even reduce high blood pressure. Indeed, you might get to the point you regain control. This also leads to a 7% reduction in heart disease mortality rates and a 10% decrease in stroke mortality rates.
BETTER CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
LDL cholesterol can be reduced by as much as 20% when you consume flax seeds regularly, with only 30 grams of flaxseed powder over three months leading to an overall 17% cholesterol decrease. Even those with diabetes can benefit, as they may gain HDL cholesterol by 12% from just 10 grams over a month! This is likely due to the high fiber levels contained within flax seeds, which helps as that fiber binds to bile salts so they pass through the body harmlessly.
REDUCED CANCER RISK
Flax seeds contain a lot of lignans, which are antioxidant plant compounds that contain a lot of estrogen. Both of these factors can help reduce cancer risk. In fact, flax seeds have a whopping 800 times more lignans than many other common plant foods! Postmenopausal women benefit from these significantly, as those who eat flax seeds have been found to have a reduced risk of breast cancer by an impressive 18%, according to a study.
4. SWEET POTATO
Many women in their 40s notice that their nails, skin, and hair weaken and need additional care as they age, and one of the ways they can be aided is through biotin, a B vitamin found in sweet potatoes. According to Austin Urology Institute research team leader, Dr. Koushik Shaw, MD, sweet potatoes are backed with numerous other nutrients like magnesium, anti-inflammatory beta-carotene, and vitamin C to help with that.
But that’s not the only reason sweet potatoes are good for you. There’s more than just aesthetic and appearance-based upkeep to them! Here are some more ways they help you:
STRENGTHENS THE BRAIN
Many older individuals may be concerned about the health of their brains as they age. Purple sweet potatoes might be able to help with that! These kinds of potatoes contain anthocyanins, which are capable of fighting inflammation and reducing free radical damage. More human studies are needed before these findings are 100% conclusive, but most experts agree that sweet potatoes should aid cognitive health.
PROMOTES HEALTHY VISION
Orange sweet potatoes have a lot of anti-inflammatory beta-carotene, which is also an antioxidant. For women over 40 concerned about their vision, sweet potatoes may help. Studies say just one baked sweet potato with skin has seven times more beta-carotene than is needed per day! But why beta-carotene? Well, this component turns into vitamin A as it digests. That helps keep eyes strong and reduces the risk of macular degeneration by protecting the cells of the eyes from damage. Purple sweet potatoes can also protect the eyes!
CAN FIGHT CANCER
Cancer is a significant fear for many older women, who struggle to keep their positive thinking about their risks of different types of cancer. But the anthocyanins in purple sweet potatoes can slow cancerous cell growth in the breasts, bladder, and colon, say test-tube studies. Experts posit that this is due to a protective effect that the anthocyanins have, but they need more research for proper conclusions.
Renowned award-winning OB/GYN and expert on women’s health, Dr. Sherry Ross, weighs in. She says that quinoa should be the choice for a type of food you’d bring with you to a desert island! Its nutritional content sufficiently provides the human body with all the necessary essential amino acids and a ton of vitamins and minerals. Here are some more reasons women over 40 should eat it:
AIDS METABOLIC HEALTH
Metabolic disease is a significant problem in the United States, with older individuals being more at risk for complications from it. Studies have found that quinoa is better than other forms of gluten-free carbohydrates in reducing levels of components related to poor metabolism.
LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX
Foods with high glycemic indices are commonly implicated in multiple diseases, especially those common in people aged over 40 years. This includes heart disease, stroke, and even type 2 diabetes. Quinoa, however, has a low glycemic index, meaning it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels that quickly, allowing the body time to adjust. It has a lower index than even simple foods like white rice, so it makes a healthy and positive carb substitute.
HIGH ANTIOXIDANT LEVEL
As previously mentioned, oxidation and oxidative stress can rapidly speed up certain factors of aging. Quinoa contains antioxidants that can fight free radicals and help reduce disease risk while easing the aging process. In fact, over multiple different kinds of cereals and legumes, quinoa has a noticeably high antioxidant content, according to research.