Sunday, September 13, 2009

Superfoods To Help Menopausal Health

There was a Superfoods book published several years ago by a San Diego doctor which espoused the benefits of foods like blueberries, spinach and broccoli. Good news..I've uncovered some other superfoods that are especially helpful to menopausal women. In many cases, it seems that menopausal symptoms can be relieved in a natural way by eating superfoods and their lessor known relatives. Don’t get me wrong, I still use my wicking pajamas to help my night sweats, but the foods below have certainly helped me reduce my menopausal symptoms.

Many of us tend to eat the foods we know how to prepare. In other words, most of us become very complacent with our food choices. Don't be afraid to experiment with new foods and receipes. By mixing things up we can add more healthful micronutrients and phytochemicals into our diets. Additionally, you might even find some additional relief from menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.
Visit ethnic grocery stores, farmers markets and local markets shich focus on sustainable, local food. This is where you can learn from others how to buy, prepare and use some of the more unusual alternatives.

An ancient relative of wheat, kamut is increasingly used as an alternative to regular wheat. It has 20 to 40 percent more protein and is higher in lipids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Moreover, it can be tolerated by some with sensitivities to regular wheat. Kamut can be found in some packaged pastas, bread, cereals and crackers.

Kamut is usually found in the bulk section of supermarkets or health food stores and coops. It can be substituted for rice . For breakfast, mix a half-cup with diced apples, raisins, walnuts and a touch of cinnamon and honey. As a dinner side dish mix cook with chopped vegetables like onions and peppers.

Dandelion greens
These greens are very low in calories and high in vitamins. Aserving (1 cup) of these dark, leafy greens also has more vitamin A than a cup of cantaloupe and more calcium than spinach . They’re also high in iron, vitamin C, potassium and folate.
I avoid them in salads because they are quite bitter. Instead, try cooking them with something sweet like nuts or dried fruit. Or sauteed with garlic and peppers.

My absolute favorite cocktail is a grayhound. Simply grapefruit juice and vodka. My theory…is a little good with a little bad is OK occasionally as long as you don’t over do it. Most doctors will say 1 small cocktail a day for women is good for the heart. Grapefruit juice boasts more nutrients per calorie than apple, grape, pineapple and prune juice. Each serving 1 cup serving gives you more than 100 percent of your daily recommended vitamin C, which helps neutralize free radicals that can damage cells and lead to infection, aging and disease. It can boost the performance of some medications — but it can interfere with others — so check with your doctor if you take prescription drugs.

Made from fermented soybeans, this traditional Indonesian food looks strange, but it may ease symptoms of menopause because it contains phytochemicals such as isoflavones and saponins,. The soy protein and isoflavones also might reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers. Slice and saute. Its nutty, mushroom flavor can be used in soups, salads and sandwiches.

Sea vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements. The kelp family (kombu, wakame and arame) is an excellent source of iodine and has about four times the iron of beef. Arame has more than 10 times the calcium as milk. Nori, the seaweed wrapped around sushi rolls, contains protein, calcium, iron, potassium and more vitamin A than carrots. If you’re taking medications, check with your doctor.

Try sushi or maki rolls. Or cut nori strips into pieces and sprinkle on salads. Put kelp in a shaker and use instead of salt. Or mix it with olive oil or tamari and use as a seasoning.

Some people think they should stay away from avocados because of all the fat, but staying away from avocados deprives you of one of natures healthiest foods. Avocados have good, unsaturated fats that help with growth and development of the central nervous system and the brain. They’re packed with nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. And they play well with others; when you eat an avocado, it helps the body absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha- and beta-carotene, as well as lutein, from other foods.

Use avocado in place of mayonnaise. Add it to smoothies, salad, salsa, soups or sandwiches.

Dried plums (prunes)
These little gems are “a mouthful of rich sweetness. High in antioxidants, they also have twice as much potassium as bananas; potassium can help keep blood pressure in check.

For a special treat dip them in dark chocolate or puree them to use in place of fat in certain dessert receipes. I especially love them with a dollop of plain nonfat Greek yogurt and cinnamon…yum!

Chia seeds
We’ve all heard of the infamous Chia pet made from these little tiny seeds. These sees are actually nutrient-dense whole grains with omega-3 fatty acids They have among the highest antioxidant activity of any whole food, outdistancing even fresh blueberries. Studies also have shown they can level out blood sugar spikes. Try taking 2 two ounce doses a day to see if you notice a difference with how you feel.
Use them like flax seeds by adding to oatmeal or cereal for breakfast, or add them to salads, smoothies or baked goods such as muffins or brownies. Chia seeds are also available in the bulk sections of grocery or health food stores.

These days there are all kinds of different beets. I still love the deep red variety. Eat them fresh, but watch out when you cook them because the juice can stain your clothes. Beets are a great source of fiber, iron and vitamin C. Additionally they contain betacyanin, a powerful cancer-fighting agent that has been shown to help prevent colon cancer.
Try sliced cooked beets sprinkled with almonds and red onions then drizzled with a good Italian dressing. Add cooked beets to salads or simply roast them with other veggies . You’ll probably find a new favorite vegetable!

Though fresh pumpkin is available only in the fall and winter, canned pumpkin can be just as healthful. A 1 cup serving of pumpkin ( has nearly 3 grams of fiber, and is packed with beta carotene — an antioxidant that can help improve immune function and reduce the risk for cancer and heart disease.

Cut fresh peeled pumpkin into chunks, marinate in olive oil and balsamice vinegar for a few hours, sprinkle with salt and pepper , then and roast/ Or drop a generous scoop of canned pumpkin into plain pancake batter, muffin recipe or make a soup from canned pumpkin, chicken broth and fat-free half-and-half.

Bon Appetit!
photo by: annimeil

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