Written by FH Contributor, Tangela Kindell
What comes to mind when the temperature drops and the sound of the holidays fills the air? Do you think of exchanging gifts with friends and family, your favorite holiday tunes, or falling snow? If you’re anything like me, winter foods are your favorite part of the season and the thing you look forward to the most. Today, we’re here to share a very special gift with you this holiday season – four winter foods for women’s health! Every meal and snack gives you an opportunity to nourish your body and support healthy hormones, regular cycles, fertility, and overall well-being. Read on to learn more about how some of your winter faves can support women’s health.
One of the biggest food recommendations for women is cranberries! Not only do they contain important nutrients like vitamin C, Vitamin E, and copper, cranberries contain a unique antioxidant called proanthocyanidins (PACs) that may prevent certain prevent E. coli bacteria from attaching to the lining of the bladder and urinary tract, making cranberries a potential preventive measure against urinary tract infections (UTIs). A 2017 review found that cranberry reduced the risk of UTI recurrence by 26% among 7 studies of healthy women.
Raw cranberries are a versatile fruit that makes a great addition to smoothies, salads, yogurt, and side dishes. Look for 100% cranberry juice instead of cranberry juice cocktail, which has added sugar.
The star of soups, stews, casseroles, bread, desserts, and other foods that make you feel warm and fuzzy during the colder months, winter squash is rich in fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients that have been associated with hormone balance and protection from free radical damage. All varieties of winter squash contain the phytonutrient beta-carotene, which has been associated with reduced time to pregnancy (TTP) among women in recent studies.
Popular varieties of winter squash include butternut, delicata, spaghetti, and acorn. Roast halved squash in the oven and eat it straight from the shell for a quick and easy snack or side.
Beets are recommended for women’s health because they’re rich in nutrients that have unique benefits for women including iron and folate for healthy menstruation, fiber for gut health, and potassium for muscle strength and nerve function. Did you know that beets may be an important key for sexual health and better sexual satisfaction? That’s because one of the star ingredients in beets is nitric oxide (NO), an essential molecule that causes the blood vessels to relax and improves blood flow. NO has been shown to improve blood flow to the pelvic region and sex organs, which may increase lubrication, sex drive, and orgasms. Grab a glass of 100% beet juice, add roasted beets as a side dish, or blend them with hummus for a tasty spread.
Shredded in a salad, slow-roasted with maple syrup and bacon, or air-fried extra crispy – how do you like your brussels sprouts? No matter how you eat them, Brussel sprouts are an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and vitamins K and C. Research suggests that brussels sprouts and other cruciferous veggies like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower may reduce inflammation. A 2014 research study showed evidence that several markers of inflammation were lower among women with higher intakes of cruciferous veggies. Inflammation can often lead to complications like increased cramps, headaches, GI issues, and skin issues.