The most important goal of any healthy diet is to nourish your body with all the nutrients it needs to thrive. And as we age, certain nutrients become even more essential to our wellbeing. For example, a range of health concerns may arise during menopause, such as weight gain, osteoporosis, and increased risk of heart disease. Luckily, though, there are plenty of way to keep these issues at bay—starting with adding some powerful superfoods to your daily diet.
In short, superfoods are simply nutrient-dense foods that offer a wide range of benefits, from heart health to a stronger immune system. Eating these types of foods is a great idea for anyone at any stage in their life, but can be especially beneficial to women over 40. To discover some of the best options out there that can help slow aging and ease some of the symptoms of menopause , we spoke to health experts Megan Wong, RD at AlgaeCal and Kristian Morey, RD, LDN. They told us that cruciferous vegetables, plums, and black beans will all make fantastic additions to your diet.
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1. Cruciferous veggies
According to Morey, upping your intake of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, brussels sprouts, and more is a great way to regulate your hormones, which can definitely come in handy as you age—especially when you enter menopause. She explains that these veggies have a compound called indole-3-carbinol, which produces another compound called Diindolylmethane (DIM) when broken down. “DIM may have several benefits of particular interest to women, as it is thought to help balance estrogen levels in the body by stimulating the production of a more beneficial form of estrogen called 2-hydroxyestrone and reducing the effects of another form of estrogen called 16 alpha-hydroxyestrone, which has been linked to weight gain and an increased risk of some cancers, including breast and uterine cancer,” Morey tells us. Nice! Luckily, these vegetables can fit into a range of meals. Many are delicious when roasted. Try throwing them into grain bowls! And of course, you can never go wrong with a tasty kale salad.
If you ask us, plums are an underrated fruit. And according to Wong, they can really pack in the benefits—especially for women over 40. In fact, she says that “plums are the perfect superfood to prepare a woman’s body for menopause.” Amazing! This is because this powerful fruit can help combat both bone loss and weight gain, which are two common issues cause by the hormonal shifts our bodies begin to undergo during perimenopause. “Research shows that eating 4-5 plums a day can help protect your bones. In these studies, regularly eating plums was actually linked to higher bone mineral density in the spine,” Wong says, noting that this superfood is also “rich in soluble fiberwhich slows down digestion and keeps blood sugar levels steady” in order to “help to manage food cravings that lead to unnecessary snacking and additional weight gain.” All in all, this is a fruit you’ll definitely want to start snacking on.
3. Black beans
Another fantastic addition to any diet, but especially for women over 40, is black beans. “Black beans are rich in magnesium and potassium, two minerals that become even more important as a woman ages,” Wong explains. Eating more magnesium and potassium-rich foods is a great idea as you approach menopause, in particular. “During menopause, women lose as much as 20% of their bone mineral density, greatly increasing their risk for osteoporosis,” she says. And beyond menopause, ensuring you’re getting enough of these nutrients is also essential, because, as Wong tells us, “after menopause, blood pressure rises, increasing the risk for hypertension and heart disease. Around 60% of the magnesium in our bodies is stored in bone.” Noted!
Of course, talking to your doctor in order to come up with a personalized diet plan to target your unique needs is always your best option—but when in doubt, adding these foods to the mix is never a bad idea for women over 40!