September 20 2018
In order to keep your body running in peak form, you need to make sure you’re meeting these women-specific nutrition needs.
Some foods just go together: macaroni and cheese, PB&J, milk and cookies. Sure, they may be good on their own–but aren’t they just so much better together? While we love these combinations because of the taste or memories associated with them, some food combinations actually make the foods more nutritious. In other words, pairing certain nutrients increases their absorption into the bloodstream. Check out some of these nutrient duos that go together as well as avocado and toast.
Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the United States, and prolonged absence of this nutrient can lead to anemia. Women, especially those of childbearing age, are at higher risk of deficiency due to the loss of iron during menstruation. Since iron delivers oxygen to working muscles and is vital for blood flow, it’s a vital component of a runner’s diet. But have no fear–there are plenty of food sources that have iron, and pairing those with vitamin C can increase absorption of this vital nutrient. Try putting some vitamin C-rich tomato on a turkey burger, add bell peppers into a tofu stir fry, or cut up some strawberries to top your morning oatmeal.
Turmeric has been getting a lot of buzz lately, mainly because it has some antioxidant power. What the catchy headlines don’t tell you is that the curcumin in turmeric, which give it its anti-inflammatory properties, isn’t well absorbed by the body. However, this can be remedied if you combine turmeric with black pepper, which contains piperine, a chemical that can slow down the metabolism of curcumin. To reap the full benefits of turmeric, put some black pepper into a curry or sprinkle a bit into your golden milk latte.
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Lycopene falls into a group of antioxidants called carotenoids, which can help reduce inflammation and possibly prevent cancer and protect eyesight. This antioxidant is fat-soluble, meaning it’s best absorbed when eaten with some sort of fat. The vast majority of lycopene in our diet comes from tomatoes and tomato products, so eating a healthy source of fat in tandem with these foods will increase your lycopene absorption. Two solid options include putting a few slices of tomato on avocado toast or adding olive oil or ground walnuts to tomato sauce.
Calcium is an incredibly important nutrient for bone and teeth health. Consuming enough calcium can prevent conditions like osteoporosis and osteopenia, which are more prevalent in women as they age. It’s impossible, however, to talk about calcium without bringing up vitamin D. This sunshine vitamin aids in calcium absorption, helps transport calcium to the teeth and bones and regulates the amount of calcium in our blood. There are only a few foods that contain vitamin D, including fatty fish, mushrooms, cheese and egg yolks, but many calcium-rich foods are now fortified with vitamin D. Look for dairy products, such as milk and yogurt, that have added vitamin D, or combine calcium-rich dark leafy greens, like kale or swiss chard, with salmon.