Here are Jordan’s top-recommended foods for women:
Fermented dairy products: Yogurt, kefir, raw hard cheeses, cottage cheese, and cultured cream are healthy foods that provide an easily absorbable form of naturally acidified calcium, which helps build strong bones in children and slows the development of osteoporosis, which is the bane of many women as they leave middle age. These cultured dairy products lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels while giving you an energy boost. The fermentation process makes the milk easier to digest and its nutrients more usable by the body. High-quality fermented dairy can come from cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, or goat’s milk.
Red meat: Many women have clinical or subclinical iron deficiency anemia. A Penn State University study showed that iron-deficient women performed significantly worse on memory and attention tests than healthy women, and they experienced fatigue and irritability. Eating red meat in the form of sustainably raised beef, bison, lamb, goat, or venison is an excellent way to build up iron in your bloodstream. You’ll be much better off purchasing meats that are organically raised, or designated as grass-fed or open-pastured.
Wild-caught fish: Fish caught in the wild, instead of those raised on fish farms, provide a richer source of omega-3 fat, protein, vitamin, and minerals. It’s getting easier to shop for salmon these days because U.S. supermarkets have been required to label salmon as farmed or wild. Line-caught fish from Alaska are the healthiest to eat, since habitats are more pristine in the forty-ninth state.
Canned salmon; sardines; and low-mercury, high omega-3 tuna: Though any fish is a good source of calcium, canned wild salmon and sardines are particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids and calcium. Don’t be squeamish about eating a few bones—they are actually soft and quite edible—since they contain calcium phosphorus and fluoride. These tiny fish are also a good source of selenium, which helps to protect cells from damage by acting as an antioxidant. Be careful about eating conventional canned tuna, which can raise your exposure to mercury.
Nuts and seeds. Walnuts and flaxseeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids: Almonds and black sesame seeds are high in calcium, but soak these first so they will be easier to digest. Place them in a bowl, add one teaspoon of salt, and cover them with water for six to eight hours. Then drain the water and place the nuts or seeds on a cookie sheet to dry on low heat in the oven.
Nuts and seeds contain indigestible remnants of fiber or “roughage.” These foods can help you stay regular and avoid constipation.
Leafy greens high in magnesium: These include spinach and heads of romaine, red leaf, and butterhead lettuce, as well as the less nutritious crisphead, or iceberg, lettuce. (Generally speaking, the darker green the leaves, the more nutritious the salad will be.) These green foods contain a broad array of enzymes, vitamins, minerals, proteins, and chlorophyll, the green pigment found in plants. The main element in chlorophyll is magnesium, and every cell in your body needs it, as it performs more than three hundred biochemical reactions in the body. Bone health, for example, is greatly improved by the magnesium contained in greens. By eating leafy green salads regularly, your body receives the magnesium it needs. Without enough magnesium in the blood, hearts beat irregularly, arteries stiffen, blood pressure rises, blood tends to clot, muscles spasm, insulin grows weaker, bones lose strength, and pain signals intensify. These are powerful reasons to eat plenty of salad, preferably organic, since it’s likely to have greater concentrations of magnesium.
Fruits and veggies: Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially during your menstrual cycle, helps women naturally cleanse their bodies. Many vegetables are high in calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which help relieve and prevent muscle spasms during your period. Tori Hudson, author of Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, points out that fruits are an excellent source of natural anti-inflammatory substances, like bioflavonoids and vitamin C. “These nutrients not only strengthen the blood vessels that aid circulation to areas of muscle tension in the pelvis but also reduce the pain from menstrual cramps through their anti-inflammatory effect,” she wrote. The Encyclopedia for Natural Healing relates that by upping your consumption of green vegetables, you can avoid calcium deficiency and prevent menstrual cramps. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, beans, fresh fruit, and vegetables may also help relieve premenstrual symptoms. You may want to back off of animal protein for a few days leading up to the start of your period and go for complex carbs instead.
Fermented veggies: It may be impossible to get your kids to try fermented vegetables, such as cucumbers, sauerkraut, beets, or pickled carrots, but don’t let that stop you from giving these vitamin- and mineral-packed foods a try. Fermented vegetables contain friendly microorganisms known as probiotics, as well as concentrated amounts of vitamins, including vitamin C.
Fermented soy: The fermentation process is the oldest known form of food biotechnology, dating back thousands of years. Fermentation enriches food in terms of protein, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, carbohydrates, and assorted antioxidants. Fermented soy products, such as miso, tempeh, natto, and brewed soy sauce, have their roots in the Far East, where traditional fermented soy foods are considered to have significant health-promoting benefits. Fermented soy products have been shown to help ease the uncomfortable symptoms associated with menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, irritability, and bone loss.
Beta glucans from soluble oat fiber: Beta glucans are a class of nondigestive polysaccharides—meaning they are relatively complex carbohydrates—widely found in oats, barley, and yeast. They are noted for their ability to enhance the immune system and promote healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels. A good way to introduce beta glucans into your system is to consume whole food nutrition bars and meal replacement shakes containing the recommended daily amount of beta glucans from soluble oat fiber.
Water, tea, and coffee: These beverages are not foods, but most women don’t drink the amount of water they should because they fear they’ll have to go to the bathroom too often. You’re encouraged to drink plenty of water anyway because this remarkable resource performs so many vital tasks for the body: regulating body temperature, carrying nutrients and oxygen to the cells, cushioning joints, protecting organs and tissues, and removing toxins from the body.
How much water should one drink? A good rule of thumb for minimum hydration is a half ounce of water for every pound of body weight, and an additional 16 ounces of water per hour of exercise.
Teas and herbal infusions can increase energy, enhance the immune system, improve digestion, and even help you wind down after a long day. While tea provides many great health benefits, nothing can replace pure water for hydration. You can safely and healthfully consume two to four cups of tea and herbal infusions daily, but you still need at least eight glasses of pure water.
As surprising as this may seem, coffee can be healthy if consumed the right way: without nondairy creamer and refined sugar or artificial sweeteners. Coffee, which is high in antioxidants, should be made from freshly ground organic beans and stirred with your choice of the following: organic honey, unrefined sugar, a small amount of nonhomogenized organic milk, or heavy cream. Coffee consumption should be limited to one cup per day.
Is Chocolate a Woman’s Best Friend?
Chocolate is delicious and can even be healthy—in small doses. Dark chocolate, preferably made from organic ingredients, is better for you than lighter milk chocolate because it’s higher in healthy bioflavonoids, an antioxidant. Dark chocolate also releases both serotonin and endorphins, which act as antidepressants. Furthermore, chocolate contains a high level of phenylethylamine, the same chemical that the brain produces when you fall in love.