Women just love variety and colour, which is abundantly apparent in the way they dress. They should also learn to bring the same variety and colour to their food choices—and not just for its aesthetic appeal. The more colourful your diet, the more nutrients you get. This is because colourful vegetables and fruits [plant foods] contain essential nutrients like carotenoids and bioflavanoids, which are extremely beneficial for women in maintaining their health and wellbeing. Let’s understand how the colourful nutrients help.
Carotenoids are good
“Carotenoids reduce oxidative stress, oestrogen levels, and help in inflammation,” says Dr Cynthia Thomson, PhD, RD, associate professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Arizona. This makes them useful bioactive compounds in cancer prevention.
Carotenoids are primarily found in the colourful portion of the plants. So, having a colourful diet will ensure that you get all the carotenoids you need. Natural sources of carotenoids include orange coloured fruits and vegetables like carrots, apricots, mangoes, and sweet potatoes.
The most popular carotenoids are lycopene, lutein, and beta-carotene. German researchers say that carotenoids like lutein, lycopene and beta-carotene improve skin health and reduce effects of skin ageing.
Further, natural carotenoids, including beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, may help decrease the risk and even reverse the development of age-related macular degeneration [AMD], the leading cause of blindness, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association [JAMA].
Let us now discuss the two most important carotenoids that benefit women.
The antioxidant property of lycopene protects our DNA [our genetic material] inside the white blood cells, playing an important role in preventing heart disease.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women with the highest plasma levels of the antioxidant lycopene had a 34 per cent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease [CVD], compared to women with lower plasma levels of the nutrient.
Red fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, watermelons, figs, pink-grapefruits, apricots and pink-guavas are common sources of lycopene.
Beta-carotene is helpful in treating unpleasant menopausal symptoms of vaginal dryness and fragility. Research shows that a combination of beta-carotene and evening primrose oil is effective in reducing the itchy, crawling sensation in the skin that often occurs during menopause. It also reduces the risk of ovarian cancer in women after menopause.
Some natural sources include sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, broccoli, fresh thyme, and lettuce.
Bioflavanoids work best
Bioflavonoids act as antioxidants and are found in citrus fruits, vegetables, berries, green tea, soy products, herbs, and spices. Bioflavonoids affect blood vessel strength and permeability and have an anti-inflammatory effect—important to women with allergies, menstrual cramps, or arthritis. They are useful in lifting mood and increasing energy levels in women with PMS or menopause.
“Giving women vitamin C with bioflavonoids has shown to help reduce hot flashes,” says Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of The New Natural Alternatives to HRT.
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