If you’re like most women, finding time to eat right can be difficult – and, as a result, you may not be getting all the important nutrients that you need. According to the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, many women aren’t getting enough potassium, fiber, choline, magnesium, calcium, iron and vitamins A, D, E and C.
But your busy schedule doesn’t have to get in the way of good nutrition – a few smart picks at the grocery store can help shore up your nutrient shortfalls:
Long demonized as artery-cloggers, we now know that eggs are nutrient-packed and can be part of a healthy diet. An egg has more than 10 essential nutrients, including iron, vitamin D, iron, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and choline, and provides high-quality protein and antioxidants. Few foods naturally contain vitamin D or choline, and most animal-based proteins lack antioxidants, making eggs one of the most nutritious additions to your diet. Vitamin D is thought to help protect against a wide range of conditions including certain cancers, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and may even aid in weight management. Vitamin D also works with calcium to create strong, healthy bones. Women are more likely than men to develop osteoporosis and osteopenia, particularly after menopause. According to the latest data an estimated 8.2 million American women have osteoporosis and an additional 27.3 million have low bone mass.
Enjoy eggs for a protein-packed breakfast or have veggie-rich frittata for a quick and easy dinner.
Prunes aren’t just your grandmother’s food anymore! This high-fiber fruit can help keep things moving (ahem!) and improve overall GI health – an important benefit given that women experience constipation and other GI disorders more often than men. And here’s another perk you may not be privy to: prunes may help boost bone health. Eating 5 or 6 a day can help slow bone loss and improve bone density in post-menopausal women, according to a San Diego State University study. Experts say the fruit’s nutrient makeup, including vitamin K, boron, magnesium, potassium and polyphenols, is to thank for the bone benefit.
Enjoy them on their own as a sweet snack or add them to cereal or yogurt. Another clever trick: Use a puree to replace some of the sugar (and score more fiber) in baked goods.
3. Greek Yogurt
Looking for something creamy, satisfying and nutritious? Go Greek! Greek yogurt has the same calcium but offers about twice the protein of traditional yogurt and it contains far less sugar. Why power up on protein? Research suggests that eating more (about 30% of your total daily calories) helps women lose weight and maintain muscle. Plus the calcium you get with yogurt can boost bone health.
Enjoy plain Greek yogurt (no added sugars) with fresh fruit or try one with 75% less sugar than regular yogurt, like Chobani Simply 100.
Sure, there are plenty of fish in the sea, but salmon is one of the healthiest. It’s a lean protein that’s loaded with omega-3 fats, which have been shown to help fight inflammation and may also protect your bones. If you reel in a fish dish in place of red meat, all the better, as most experts recommend limiting your intake of meat, especially of fatty, processed meats like bacon and deli meats. Pregnant women can also help their baby-to-be by selecting salmon—in one study, women who had a low fish intake were at an increased risk for preterm delivery and low birth weight.
Skip the greasy potato chips and nosh on some nuts instead. One of the healthiest nuts to crack: Pistachios. A one-ounce serving—about 49 nuts—delivers a variety of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial nutrients. In fact, research suggests that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pistachios, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may help reduce the risk for heart disease – the number one killer of American women, causing 1 in every 4 female deaths. Pistachios are also a great weapon against weight gain: They’re one of the lowest fat and lowest calorie nuts with just 160 calories per ounce, and they pack in protein and fiber. And since the shell slows you down (and reminds you how much you’ve eaten), you may just end up consuming less. In one study, people who ate in‐shell pistachios consumed 41% fewer calories than those who snacked on pistachios without shells.
Enjoy pistachios on their own as a snack or add them to your salads or side dishes.