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The Best Natural Foods for Women's Health


Women cooking dinner on kitchen island

We love empowering the health of all people and find that no matter what background of life you come from, natural foods are some of the most beneficial things you can put in your body. With our passion for natural foods, we realized they provided specific benefits to women's health, everything from preventing the body from common diseases to regulating hormones. A lot of these foods are ones that we already love to add to our diet, but we will be more conscious to add more and more of since we know how great they are for us (especially chocolate peanut butter...)!

Depending where you are from, we know there is sometimes a lack of access to these fresh health foods, that is why one of our goals at nudemarkt is to provide an accessible and convenient health food that stays fresh in your pantry for a long time.

We wrote this blog to highlight some of the additional delicious foods out there that you can eat a ton of, why they support your body! There are plenty of natural health foods that greatly support women's health, but here are some of our favourites that we will be discussing in this blog:

  • Peanut Butter
  • Beans
  • Berries
  • Chocolate
  • Apples
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Matcha 

All of these foods can have a mixture of amazing benefits to women's health, including:

  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Improving heart health
  • Fighting cancer
  • Supporting pregnancy
  • Soothing hormones

For more details on how these natural foods help your body, continue reading! The first health food we get into (which is one of our favourite choices for so many reasons) is peanut butter:

Natural Peanut Butter is Fantastic for Women’s Health

Hands spreading peanut butter on a piece of bread

It’s no surprise that one of our favourite natural foods is filled with nutrients that support the body of women! We love peanut butter's versatility, but were faced with a challenge when we could not find high-quality peanut butter on grocery shelves that wasn't filled with oils, sugars and unknown ingredients. That is how nudemarkt peanut butter was born!

Some of the outstanding health benefits of peanuts and 100% natural peanut butter include:  

It Can Lower Bad Cholesterol 

LDL is the harmful cholesterol that increases the risk of heart disease (the #1 leading cause of death in women). 

Peanuts are an excellent plant-based source of healthy fats, proteins, and fiber, which reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure. In a study of post-menopausal women with high cholesterol, they found that a low-fat diet, which included peanuts, ended up improving their cholesterol levels and women’s health.

Peanuts also have phytosterols, a natural plant compound that is structurally similar to cholesterol, which blocks cholesterol from being absorbed and therefore reduces cholesterol levels as well.

It’s Heart Healthy

There has been found to be a relationship between a higher intake of legumes and lower incidences of heart disease. And yes, although peanuts have ‘nut’ in the name, they are actually one of the most popular legumes, along with peas, beans and lentils! 

In a study where 30,000 post-menopausal women ate nuts and seeds more than 4x a week (including peanuts!), it was found they had a 40% lower risk of death from coronary heart disease. 

It Can Be Cancer Fighting

Peanuts are chock full of choline - which is a nutrient that helps the body function, and is believed to reduce the risk of cancer. In particular, a study found that women who consumed the highest amount of choline had the lowest risk of breast cancer!

Researchers in other studies have also found that women’s health was significantly impacted by their intake of nuts. Those with the highest intake of nuts, seeds and legumes (including peanuts) had the lowest risk of colon cancer.

It’s Ideal for Pregnancy

Folic acid is a b-group vitamin that is essential for pregnant women's health. 1 tablespoon of peanut butter has approximately 12-15 mcg of folate. On average, adults need 400 mcg a day, and women who are planning to get pregnant or are pregnant are advised to have 400 to 1000 mcg daily! 

It Can Help Soothe PMS 

The natural fats from peanuts help vitamin E be absorbed by the body. The combination of vitamin E and fatty acids in peanuts may also help reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome!

When we discovered all the health benefits of peanuts for women’s health, we were ecstatic! But, it did not stop the question lurking in our minds: wouldn’t non-natural peanut butter have the same benefits? 

Doing the research, we can’t deny that other peanut butters are filled with the same benefits from peanuts, although non-natural peanut butters likely have additives that can cause harm to our bodies system. These are the 2 common ones:

Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil

This additive creates trans fats (ironically, the harmful fats that peanuts work to lower!). These trans fats have shown to significantly increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and increase markers of inflammation in women. 

Added sugar

Sugar is often added in peanut butter to increase shelf life, but it can decrease your own life, by raising blood pressure, increasing chronic inflammation and upping the chances of heart disease. Studies have shown that people who consumed 17% of 21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who consumed 8% of their calories as added sugar.

Other than natural peanut butter, there are a ton of other natural and raw foods that are highly beneficial to women’s health. Here are a few of our favourites, along with delicious recipes that make sure you get a good dose:

Magic Beans for Women’s Health

Cracker dipping in bowl of hummus

How have you bean? Probably good if you are eating them! This natural food is pumped up with protein, fiber, and omega 3 fatty acids. It also has protective effects against heart disease and breast cancer, which are issues particularly impactful to women’s health. Beans are also found to be :

Heart healthy

Beans can lower cholesterol and lower risk of coronary heart disease.

Hormone balancing

Beans can stabilize female hormones since they contain plant-based estrogen-like substances (phytoestrogens). Soya beans in particular are full of these, which has grown the misconception that they increase estrogen, but the two are different! They actually help control hormone levels in the body, reducing endometriosis and even breast cancer.

Ideal for pregnancy

Beans increase folic acid levels, which makes healthy red blood cells and helps prevent neural tube defects in a fetus during pregnancy.

Antioxidant packed

They also have a high amount of antioxidants, which fight the effects of free radicals and protect the body from disease. 

What's special about omega 3 fatty acids?

Omega 3 fatty acids are critical for health as they support the creation of hormones that regulate blood clotting, heart health, and inflammation. They have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke, and may play protective roles in cancer!

If you are looking for a source for omega 3 fatty acids, kidney beans, and edamame beans are jam-packed. Edamame beans are actually immature soybeans, that contain 0.28g of alpha-linolenic acid (a type of omega 3 fatty acid). Kidney beans contain a bit less omega 3 at 0.10 g, but still, a significant amount as women need 1,100 mg per day, and 200 more mg if they are pregnant.

Consuming foods high in omega 6 will also help the absorption of omega 3s, and food great for this is natural peanut butter!

Need more beans in your diet? Try this delicious hummus which is filled with two natural health foods, chickpeas and peanut butter.

Close up of bowl filled with hummus, topped with an olive and sprinkled with paprika

 Ingredients
  • Natural Peanut Butter 30 ounces chickpeas (2 cans)
  • 3 cloves garlic (peeled)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil or tahini
  • 1/2 cup
  • Natural Peanut Butter  (Crunchy if you like more texture)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (or more as needed)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon pouring salt)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/3 cup plain/unsweetened coconut yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons peanuts (finely chopped) or pine nuts (to serve)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (to serve)
  • Pita bread or gluten free crackers
  • Sliced vegetables (Our recommendations: carrots, celery, mushrooms, cucumber, cherry tomatoes) 
How to make it
  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Put the garlic cloves, garbanzo beans, 3 tablespoons oil, Natural Peanut Butter, lemon juice, salt and cumin into a food processor and blend well.
  2. Add 4 tablespoons of the coconut yogurt and process again; if the hummus is still very thick add another 1–2 tablespoons yogurt and the same of oil. (This will often depend on the chickpeas, as different sorts make the hummus thicker or not.)
  3. Taste for seasoning, adding more lemon juice and salt if you feel it needs it.
  4. To Serve: mix the chopped peanuts or pine nuts with the paprika and sprinkle on top.
  5. Enjoy as an addition to a vegan charcuterie platter while entertaining your guests!

Berries for Child Bearers 

Women holding plate of raspberries and blackberries

Although added sugars can have adverse health effects, berries have fibers that help you digest their natural sugars. Never limit yourself when it comes to these nutrient-dense and tasty treats!

High in essential nutrients

Berries are super high in essential vitamin C which helps form collagen, absorb iron, boost your immune system, and help heal your body.

Can defend against cancer

Berries are uniquely high in anthocyanins which may decrease cancer.

Great for pregnancy

They are also high in folic acid, which is an essential nutrient for all women (especially in their childbearing years).

Best for blood pressure

They help control blood pressure by circulating anthocyanins in the bloodstream.

Great for cognition

A study of 16,010 women over age 70 who ate about two servings of strawberries (or one serving of blueberries) a week experienced less mental decline over time. This result is believed to be due to compounds found almost exclusively to berries that cross the blood-brain barrier (or should we say berrier?).

Heart-healthy

Along with oats, dark leafy greens, nuts, and seeds, berries are also listed as one of the American Heart Association's superfoods due to the fact that they can lower the risk of heart attacks in women! They also help improve blood vessel dilation and lower systolic blood pressure.

Bacteria fighters

Cranberries in particular may help reduce the risk of UTI’s in women, as they have protective properties against E. Coli which can contribute to urinary tract infections.

Check out these 5 minute berry smoothie bowls that are super easy to make and are incredibly nutrient-dense!

Ingredients

Pink smoothie bowl topped with kiwi, coconut, matcha, and peanut butter

SMOOTHIE BASE
TOPPINGS 
  • ½ cup granola
  • Natural Chocolate Peanut Butter (heated in the microwave for 30 seconds and stirred to make a drizzle) 
  • Seasonal fruit: Blueberries, raspberries 
OTHER SUPER-FOOD TOPPINGS YOU CAN ADD:
  • Cacao powder 
  • Shredded coconut
  • Matcha powder 
  • Nuts or seeds 
  • Spirulina 
How to make it
  1. Blend the banana and frozen fruit on low until they are chopped into small pieces. Add milk and chia seeds and blend till smooth. Add Natural Peanut Butter and add more milk until it is the consistency you like.
  2. Scoop your smoothie into a bowl.
  3. Cover with your favourite toppings, and enjoy! 

 

Women’s Health Relies on Chocolate!

Melted dark chocolate being poured from a pot

Did someone just tell me to eat chocolate? I am listening!! Yes, high-quality chocolate has so many benefits, like lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues. A study that backs this claim found:

  • Women who had 1-2 servings of high-quality chocolate per week had a 32% lower risk of developing heart failure - the darker the chocolate the better. This is likely due to the compound that makes cocoa a bit bitter, which is actually a good thing! It has the power to lower blood pressure, and also reduce your risk of a stroke by up to 20 percent.

Not only is it heart-healthy, but chocolate also is:

Antioxidant packed

Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants called polyphenols that help increase blood flow in the brain, improving memory and function.

Energy boosting

It has caffeine that gives you natural energy, but also has a chemical that boosts your cell's mitochondrial function!

Smile inducing

Literally makes you happy, by triggering natural endorphins.

Nutrient dense

It is packed full of minerals such as copper, iron, and magnesium, which are greatly beneficial for the skin! They can boost collagen, help skin repairs and have antioxidant levels that can help protect from the UV rays of the sun.

Personally, we eat chocolate peanut butter by the spoonful (a treat and healthy food at the same time).

We also love these PB chocolate-covered pretzels. The peanut butter compliments super dark chocolate so nicely, and is such a great snack for on the go! 

Chocolate covered PB pretzels on white plate

Ingredients
  • ½ cup Natural Peanut Butter (Smooth, Crunchy or Chocolate)
  • ½ cup melted chocolate 
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil 
How to make it
  1. Place Natural Peanut Butter and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl and heat until melted. You can always ditch the oil and use just peanut butter, but I find it’s easier to mix and dip when it is a thinner consistency. Either way, warm the PB up for about a minute and give it a good stir.
  2. Grab a pretzel with a set of fingers or tongs (if you are using hands, let the PB cool down a bit first). Dip it into the peanut butter, shake and tap off any excess and set it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, foil or silicone. Once the sheet is full of pretzels, place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  3. While in the freezer, melt your chosen chocolate in the microwave or on the stove.
  4. Repeat the dipping process but with the chocolate this time!
  5. Place back on the baking sheet, and put in the freezer for another 10 minutes or until hard. Take out and enjoy!

 

Appley Ever After

Green apple on cutting board being sliced with knife

I always wondered why apples keep doctors away. Looks like there is research to back that up! Apples are one of the best foods when it comes to supporting women’s health. In fact, they are one of the three foods that are more effective at reducing the risk of death from coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease among women!

Apples have a whole list of impressive health benefits, they are:

High in essential nutrients

They are dense in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. A ton of these are in the skin, so put the peeler down!

Good for the gut

Their fiber acts as a prebiotic, which feeds the good bacteria in your gut, which may also lead to the reason why they protect against obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Bone strengthening

They are linked to higher bone density and strength, and studies have shown that women who ate apples lost less calcium.

Dipping apple slices in peanut butter is an amazingly satisfying natural snack, but if you could go for something a little more sweet, this 3 ingredient caramel dipping sauce will make an apple a day an EASY habit. 

Sliced apple with a date sauce spread on top, sprinkled with coconut bits

Ingredients
  • 1.5 cups pitted dates
  • 1 tbsp nudemarkt Peanut Butter (Smooth, Crunchy, Coconut or Chocolate)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil 
  • Whatever you want to sprinkle on top - we chose shredded coconut this time!
How to make it
  1. Cover pitted dates in warm water and let soak for 2 hours. 
  2. Drain water and add 1 tbsp coconut oil and 1 tbsp nudemarkt Peanut Butter to a blender. Blend together thoroughly. 
  3. Spread on apples or use as a dip for any snack. Top with shredded coconut, sprinkles, chocolate chips or anything your heart desires!

 

Every day I'm Brusseling

Bowl of fresh green brussel sprouts

If you haven't heard why cruciferous veggies like brussel sprouts are amazing for your health, I am so excited to tell you. Brussel sprouts, in particular, are rich in vitamin K, which help with blood clotting and bone health. They provide 137% of your daily vitamin K requirement, which especially helps decrease the risk of bone fractures in postmenopausal women. Brussel sprouts are also:

Antioxidant packed

They are impressive based on their antioxidant content, which is through the roof, and may reduce cancer cell growth, ease inflammation and improve heart health.

Nutrient dense

Also, remember those omega-3 fatty acids we were talking about earlier? Well these are super high in brussel sprouts as well! Brussel sprouts are one of the best plant-based sources of omega 3s, providing 12% of a women's daily value in just half a cup.

A must try recipe to get brussel sprouts in your meal are these maple peanut butter roasted brussel sprouts with pumpkin seeds! The sweet and savory together makes it one of the most DELICIOUS dishes I have ever made.

Brussel sprouts in cast iron pan

Ingredients
How to make it
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. If using full-sized brussel sprouts, cut them in half. I am working with these cute baby brussels, so I’m keeping them whole!
  2. In a cast-iron skillet or pan on medium heat, add freshly minced garlic and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Sprinkle in all your raw pumpkin seeds* (taking them from a decorated pumpkin to reduce food waste is our fave hack, but you can skip this step if yours are already roasted). Keep on heat and stir occasionally for a few minutes.
  3. Add brussel sprouts into the skillet and saute for 7-8 minutes - or until they start to brown. Place the skillet (or move ingredients into an oven-safe dish) into the oven for 10-12 minutes. Give it a little mix halfway through!
  4. When your sprouts and seeds are roasting, get a small bowl and mix together the rice vinegar, maple syrup, Natural Peanut Butter, soy sauce (tamari or coconut aminos) and seasoning.
  5. When your brussel sprouts are to your liking (golden and a bit crisp is my fave), take out of the oven and evenly smother them in your delicious peanut vinaigrette. Top with more cooked seeds, your fave herbs, chopped peanuts or serve as is and dig in!  

Women’s Health is Sweet... Potatoes!

Chopped cooked sweet potatoes sprinkled with herbs

Did you know… women are at a higher risk for eye-related diseases and health conditions that impact their vision? That's why sweet potatoes are great, since:

They protect your eyes

Foods that protect from eye-related diseases tend to be vitamin A rich, a great one being sweet potatoes (½ cup is 80% of your daily value of vitamin A!) 

They are antioxidant-packed

Also, sweet potatoes are an antioxidant-rich food (hello cancer-fighting abilities) whose levels of iron and vitamins are ideal for promoting fertility in women!

This flavourful sweet potato soup is an easy recipe that definitely has at least ½ a cup of sweet potato, and is dense with other low fat natural foods, such a leafy greens, that help support women’s health! 

Bowl of sweet potato stew with garnishes

Ingredients
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ cup smooth or crunchy natural peanut butter
  • 3 small sweet potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger (or powdered ginger)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1-4 cups fresh greens like kale or spinach
  • Drizzle of sriracha if you are into heat 
  • You can serve on brown rice, quinoa, noodles if you want as well!
How to make it
  1. Add onion, garlic, ginger and tomato paste into a large pot with a splash of water. Put on the stove at low-medium heat and get things sizzling! Also, this is the time to start cooking your grains if you are serving this stew on rice or noodles!
  2. While the onion mixture is cooking, chop up the sweet potatoes into small pieces. Keep an eye on the onions, and take off heat when they are soft and translucent.
  3. Pour the 4 cups of veggie broth into the pot, sweet potatoes, along with the ½ cup of natural peanut butter, and put back on the stove on medium heat.
  4. Add 1tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp of fresh ground pepper, salt, chili powder, chili pepper flakes and paprika. Stir and simmer for about 30 minutes, until sweet potatoes are soft (and your kitchen smells amaaaazing). When they are cooked thoroughly, the soup is done!
  5. To make the broth thicker, you can use an immersion blender (or pour a portion into a blender) to thicken it up - I like to leave about half of it chucky, but blending some of it is an awesome way to make it that perfect stew-like texture.
  6. When the thickness is to your liking, throw in your greens! Kale, spinach and collards are great options - but you can toss in anything you like (or likewise, leave the greens out if you just aren’t feeling them)
  7. Serve it into a bowl, and top with crushed peanuts and cilantro - or any other topping (green onions are a hit too). If 4 servings is too much, no worries, this stew is even MORE delicious after a day of sitting in the fridge.

I Like You Very Matcha

Matcha powder on spoon

Derived from the same plant as green tea, but instead of being created from the leafs, matcha is made from grinding up the plant stems into a powder. This powder contains all the nutrients from the leaf but has a great amount of caffeine and antioxidants.

High in antioxidants

Including matcha in your diet can increase your antioxidant intake, helping prevent cell damage and lowering your risk of chronic diseases.

Protects the liver

An analysis of 15 studies found that drinking green tea was associated with a decreased risk of liver disease.

Enhances brain function

Matcha contains L-theanine, a compound found to promote alertness, induce relaxation and decrease stress levels. Studies have shown that consuming matcha created improvements in attention, memory, and reaction time.

May help fight cancer

Matcha is high in a type of catechin that has been shown to be powerful in fighting cancer.

Is heart helpful

Green tea, made from the same plant which matcha is derived, has been shown to reduce levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, and prevent it from oxidating, making it possible to protect against heart disease. Other studies have shown that drinking green tea is also associated with a reduced risk for heart disease and stroke.

There are a ton of fun recipes out there if a matcha latte isn't for you. If you want a more energizing version of a Reese's peanut butter cup, this snack is for you.

Green peanut butter cups

Ingredients 
How to make it
  1. Heat coconut oil into a pot and add the white chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has completely melted.
  2. Stir in the matcha powder and a pinch of salt with the melted chocolate and continue mixing.
  3. Place cupcake liners on a tray, or a muffin tin to keep the liners in place. Fill each liner about 1/3 full with the white chocolate matcha mix. Place the muffin tin in the freezer for a few minutes to harden the chocolate.

No matter your diet or preferences, there is an easy way to integrate natural foods that specifically support women’s health. Women, in particular, are vulnerable to specific diseases, as well as there are natural foods out there that can balance our hormone type. We like to say that food is medicine and medicine is food, and not only that, food is a preventative measure to ensure you are in great health and you have a high immune system fighting for you. Whether your concern is heart disease, cancer, or just making sure your diet is full of the foods you need to thrive, adding more of these foods (and natural foods in general) into your daily meals is a great start to a healthy lifestyle! Plus, for any other gender identities out there, all of these foods have benefits for you too. 

We hope our easy-to-make recipes give you an easy way to incorporate these foods into your diet, and we are happy to find that our recipes tend to include multiple of these female superfoods in each recipe! By pairing these recipes together in a healthy and balanced diet, you can ensure you are doing the most for your health, and the health of those you share meals with.

We have a ton of more recipes, so for more food inspiration, visit our list of delicious, natural ones here.

If you have any natural food recipes you would love to share, please comment below or email margaret@nudemarket.ca, we would be so happy to hear from you and feature your favourite meals. As always, stay well and healthy!

___________

This article does not provide medical advice, as is intended for informational purposes only. Information is gathered and shared from reputable sources; however, nudemarkt is not responsible for errors or omissions in reporting or explanation. This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of the information shared in this article. 

Sources

https://www.webmd.com/women/features/six-super-foods-every-woman-needs

https://peanut-institute.com/eating-well/good-for-every-body/

https://www.eatthis.com/healthy-foods-for-women/

https://www.eatthis.com/is-peanut-butter-good-for-you-healthy/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/hydrogenated-vegetable-oil#side-effects

https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-sweet-danger-of-sugar

https://peanut-institute.com/6-ways-peanuts-can-help-your-heart/

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/omega-3-fats/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-benefits-of-matcha-tea

 


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