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Foods for Women

5 Foods Every Woman Should Eat More Of

By , Caring.com contributing editor
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For busy women of all ages, five foods boast high scores in essential nutrients -- iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, folate, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids, in particular. Best of all, these foods are easy to find at practically every grocery store, no matter where you live, and each of them takes less than 15 minutes to prepare.

1. Broccoli

Broccoli is practically unrivaled among all foods when it comes to protecting against cancer. Its powerful phytonutrients not only help neutralize carcinogens, but they also stimulate detoxifying enzymes that help the body rid itself of cancer-causing and other harmful toxins. Indole-3-carbinol, another compound found in broccoli, is particularly healthy for women; it's been shown to reduce the risk of breast and cervical cancers and helps suppress the spread of existing cancer.This green vegetable also happens to be one of the richest food sources of the flavonoid kaempferol, which has shown protective benefits against ovarian cancer.

What's more, broccoli is a superior source of folate, a B vitamin that's needed for making and protecting DNA, producing new blood, forming new cells, and synthesizing protein. Folate has also been tied to a decreased risk of some cancers in adults.

But there are a couple of reasons why this nutrient is crucial for women's health in particular. First, folate is one of the most essential nutrients for pregnant women. It supports proper development of the fetal nervous system and protects against neural tube (birth) defects. Second, research shows that women are twice as likely as men to experience depression, and numerous studies have linked folate deficiency with depression. The good news: There's also evidence showing that boosting folate levels can increase serotonin levels and improve symptoms of depression.

An added bonus: As a natural diuretic, broccoli helps reduce bloating and water retention associated with premenstrual syndrome.

Broccoli is an excellent source of dietary fiber and of vitamins C, K, and A, and it's a good source of manganese, tryptophan, potassium, B vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, and protein. It's also high in calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamin E. Many of these nutrients work in partnership: Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron; vitamin K anchors calcium to the bone; dietary fiber promotes better absorption of all nutrients.

Quick and healthy tip: For optimal taste and nutrition, steam broccoli florets for no more than five minutes, or until they turn bright green. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon, and sea salt to taste.