What is the perfect food gift for the superhumans of the world? We all know mothers deserve more than just the one option of a mass-produced, standard box of chocolates. I mean, these women do everything, so how do we give back their superpowers a bit and what are our choices other than the one others produce for us? While I can’t give my mom cool armor to fight her battles or super-strength (very unfortunately), specific foods can provide a more subtle version of those superpowers for women, who face health and disease very distinctly.
Did you know that stroke affects 55,000 more women each year than men? Many facets of health work differently in women, even within ethnicities and races, and much of scientific research doesn’t even include studying women. Therefore, the foods we gift our mothers can be personalized to give a double whammy of benefits and what’s more personalized than cooking something yourself? Check out our upcoming classes for ideas and guidance from our chefs!
While we cannot say that one food can 100% prevent a disease or keep you healthy forever (health, life, and even food is a combination of many factors), here’s a list of the ones that show promise in research to begin personalizing your box of superhero foods for the superwomen of the world:
Berries: The Indestructible Mind Shield
Of the more than five million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease, more than two-thirds are women. A few diets have shown early scientific promise in slowing the progressive decline in memory and thinking skills, including one that specifically isolates “berries” as one of its 10 core food groups. This may be due to berries’ antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers that can reach the brain. How to use it as a gift: make a colorful fruit tray, drizzle dark chocolate and freeze them, or bake them into scones (check out our virtual Blueberry-Buttermilk Scones class on Saturday, May 14th)!
Walnuts: The Heart of Steel
Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women. Many of the risk factors for heart disease are ones that are impacted by food, such as foods with unsaturated, or “healthy” fats, which can lower blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, inflammation and ultimately, benefit the function of our hearts. Walnuts contain one of these mighty unsaturated fats (omega-3’s to be exact). How to use it as a gift: use in a homemade granola, crush and use as a “crust” on fish or chicken, or bake with different spices such as cinnamon, curry powder, or smoked paprika to make a spiced nut topping or snack.
Tofu: The Super-Breather
More women die of lung cancer than from breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers combined each year. While the majority of those diagnosed have smoked previously, for those who haven’t, women are still three times more likely to develop it than men. The research field on lung cancer and food still needs to be developed further, but so far, there’s promise in not only fruits and vegetables helping to reduce risk, but also in soy and soy products as well, potentially due to the isoflavone compounds that regulate estrogen. How to use it as a gift: blend silken tofu into a mousse or other dessert, scramble with or without eggs for a Mother’s Day breakfast, or marinate and bake it with tasty sauces.
Yogurt: The Bone Booster
Our bones get more vulnerable as we age, potentially weakening and breaking easily. Eating calcium and vitamin D (which work together in the body) can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Many dairy foods are fortified with vitamin D, which, paired with dairy’s high calcium content, makes things like yogurt a great bone booster. In addition, yogurt itself contains probiotics, which are thought to potentially affect conditions such as depression and anxiety through our gut microbiome. In the United States, where nearly twice as many women suffer from depression than men, yogurt seems like a pretty delicious snack to bet on. How to use it as a gift: make a dip with it for a veggie tray, use it in waffles for fluffiness, marinate chicken for a tangy dinner, or freeze into yogurt bark with chocolate, fruit, and nuts.
Dark Leafy Greens: The Life Charger
Like yogurt, dark leafy greens are high in calcium, but also contain antioxidants to fight against cancers, minerals and vitamins that help our bodies function at all levels, and fiber that keeps the digestive system healthy. In addition, leafy greens contain iron, a mineral that women need more than double the amount of than men due to blood loss during menstruation. Not getting enough iron leads to fatigue, weakness, headaches, dizziness and even chest pain, so dark leafy greens are truly a charger for energy and strength. How to use it as a gift: cook (to increase absorption of iron too) by wilting in a hearty soup, sauté and add to pasta or grain dishes (if you need ideas, our Essential Building Blocks class uses sautéed kale in a delicious chicken dish), or blend into a smoothie.