Greek yogurt: Yogurt is a great way to get calcium, and it’ s also rich in immune- boosting probiotics. But the next time you hit the yogurt aisle, pick up the Greek kind. Compared with regular yogurt, it has twice the protein (and 25% of women over 40 don’ t get enough).
Eggs: Egg yolks are home to tons of essential but hard- to- get nutrients, including choline, which is linked to lower rates of breast cancer. One large egg supplies 27% of your daily need alongside antioxidants that may help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. Bonus: You get 6 grams of muscle- building protein.
Salmon: Salmon is a rich source of vitamin D and one of the best sources of omega- 3s fatty acids you can find. These essential fatty acids have a wide range of impressive health benefits— from preventing heart disease to smoothing your skin and aiding weight loss to boost your mood. Unfortunately, many women aren’ t reaping these perks because they’ re deficient. Omega- 3s also slow the rate of digestion, which makes you feel fuller longer, so you eat fewer calories throughout the day.
Fat- free organic milk: Yes, milk does a body good: Studies show that calcium isn’ t just a bone booster but a fat fighter too. Recent research from the University of Tennessee found that obese people who went on a low- calorie, calcium- rich diet lost 70 percent more weight than those who ate the least. Milk is also a good source of vitamin D, which allows your body to absorb calcium. Research shows that adequate D levels can reduce heart disease risk, ward off certain types of cancer, relieve back pain, and even help prevent depression.
Beans: It’ s hard to imagine a more perfect food than beans. One cooked cup can provide as much as 17 grams of fiber. They’ re also loaded with protein and dozens of key nutrients, including a few most women, fall short on— calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Studies tie beans to a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and breast and colon cancers. Keep your cupboards stocked with all kinds: black, white, kidney, fat- free refried, etc.
Lean Beef: Lean beef is one of the busiest absorbed races of iron there is. (Too- little iron can cause anemia. ) Adding as little as one ounce of beef per day can make a big difference in the body’ s ability to absorb iron from other sources, says Mary J. Kretsch, Ph. D. , a researcher at the USDA- ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, CA.
Beef also packs plenty of zinc and B vitamins, which help your body convert food into energy. If you can, splurge on grass- fed beef. Compared with grain- fed beef, it has twice the concentration of vitamin E, a powerful brain- boosting antioxidant. It’ s also high in omega- 3 fatty acids.
Nuts: In a nutshell: USDA researchers say that eating 1. 5 ounces of tree nuts daily can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Walnuts are rich in omega- 3s, while hazelnuts contain arginine, an amino acid that may lower blood pressure. An ounce of almonds has as many heart- healthy polyphenols as a cup of green tea. The key is moderation since nuts are high in calories. Keep a jar of chopped nuts in your fridge, and sprinkle a tablespoon on cereal, salads, stir- fries, or yogurt.
Edamame: Soy- based foods, such as tofu, soy milk, and edamame, help fight heart disease when they replace fatty meats and cheeses, slashing saturated fat intake. Soy also contains heart- healthy polyunsaturated fats, a good amount of fiber, and some important vitamins. But stick with whole soy foods rather than processed foods, like veggie patties or chips. And, avoid taking soy supplements, which contain high and possibly dangerous amounts of isoflavones.
Flaxseed: Flaxseed is the most potent plant source of omega- 3 fatty acids. Studies indicate that adding flaxseed to your diet can help reduce the development of heart disease by 46 percent. It helps keep red blood cells from clumping together and forming clots that can block arteries. Sprinkle one to two tablespoons of flaxseeds a day on your cereal, salad, or yogurt. Buy it pre- ground, and keep it refrigerated.