Most of us associate power foods with protein-rich foods, and while protein is essential to our strength and a good metabolism, there are other nutrients in town that women need to pay more attention to for long-lasting strength. Calcium, magnesium, boron, Vitamin K, and Vitamin D are essential to healthy bone composition, which women naturally suffer a decline in as we age. Even if you’re young and don’t think too much about your bone health, you should! Bone health keeps you strong, powerful and increases lean muscle mass by protecting your muscles from deteriorating and becoming weak. Plus, healthy bones prevent bone-related diseases such as osteoporosis that naturally affect women of many different ages. It is always better to get your bone-building nutrients from foods and beverages instead of a supplement. As you’ll learn with these power foods below, it is so easy to get in your needed amounts of calcium, Vitamin D and magnesium from foods. Bone up and eat up with these new power foods for a stronger and healthier you!
1. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens, especially collard greens, are some of the best power foods out there, ladies! Collards are rich in calcium, and they help prevent bone density loss more so than any other green out there. Spinach and kale are close seconds, as is Swiss Chard. Eat up these tasty greens however you can! I like to toss collards in my smoothies, use them as wraps instead of tortilla wraps, and shred them and steam them for a hearty side dish. Collards are one of the easiest greens to find and you can buy them bagged and pre-chopped for convenience. Plus, did you know that just ¾ of a cup of collard greens contains the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk, plus more fiber, less sugar, more chlorophyll, and Vitamins A, C and K? Not to mention, collards are lower in calories if you’re watching your weight, and I just think they taste better!
2. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are some of the best sources of magnesium out there, not to mention fiber, healthy fats and plant protein. Nuts and seeds such as walnuts, cashews, almonds, hemp seeds and chia seeds are extremely rich in magnesium that help calcium do its job to maintain bone health. Without adequate magnesium, certain hormones that regulate calcium metabolism can’t do their job efficiently. Choose unsalted raw nuts as a terrific source of magnesium to help the calcium-rich foods you eat work their best. If you can, pair a calcium-rich food with a magnesium-rich food for optimal absorption. One of my favorite combos is making a green smoothie using collard greens with a scoop of almond butter and other tasty ingredients, or making a raw wrap with collard greens and adding a few walnuts or hemp seeds inside the wrap.
Halibut is one of my favorite white fish out there! It is so tender, flaky, and doesn’t taste fishy at all. It is also richer in magnesium than any other fish, and has less fat and more protein than other varieties. As a bonus, it is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and contains very minimal amounts of mercury. I love grilling halibut with some lemon, black pepper and parsley for a simple, five minute dinner. Halibut’s magnesium content aids calcium absorption and also relaxes the nervous system, which makes it great to eat if you’re stressed.
Salmon is another fish to put on your radar for great bone health because it is just brimming with Vitamin D, plus a little magnesium to boot! Vitamin D is converted to an active form in your kidneys, where it helps calcium absorption and increases the health of your bones immensely. Vitamin D is also important to prevent depression in women, and it has even been linked to lower colon cancer risks, weight loss and maintenance, and preventing seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Other Vitamin D rich sources of food include mackerel, tuna, and eggs.
5. Fortified Plant Milks
Most people think skim milk or yogurt is the best source of calcium to buy, but this is a huge misconception that I always like to clear others up on. While typical dairy foods are rich in calcium, many plant-based products are actually fortified with higher amounts of easy-to-absorb sources of calcium than dairy products are. In fact, one of my favorite varieties, Silk almond milk, actually contains 50% more calcium than milk, and their organic soy milk which is non-GMO, contains just as much as dairy milk does. These milks are also lower in calories if you stick to unsweetened versions and are much less acidic than dairy milk is. As a bonus, Silk almond milk also contains more magnesium and potassium than dairy milk, plus Vitamin B12 to boot, all for a measly 35 calories. Did I mention it tastes great too?
Yes ladies, we’re talking about prunes and this time it isn’t for your digestive health! Prunes are one powerful food, outside of their commonly known ability to clear things up in your GI tract. Prunes are rich in boron, which helps lock calcium and Vitamin D into bone tissue so they won’t leach out over time. Prunes are also one of the richest sources of antioxidants out there, and I think they’re pretty tasty! If you like prunes, you’re in luck! Just six of these tasty little treats will get you where you need to be and they’re easy to use if you like making homemade energy bars like I do. Just use them in place of dates, or blend them with some almond butter to make an instant “PB and J” alternative spread. If you really hate prunes, raisins and apricots are boron-rich alternatives.
7. Root Veggies
These humble veggies are one of my top favorite power foods. I just feel better overall when eating them! Carrots, beets, sweet potatoes and winter squash are all some of the best sources of fiber, potassium, magnesium and Vitamin K you can eat. Vitamin K helps to build a framework inside your bones that keeps them stronger over time, and as you know, magnesium helps calcium do its job more efficiently. Potassium has also been proven to increase bone health in women, plus it is essential for balancing out high sodium levels that can lead to calcium leaching out in the bones. I love roasting root veggies, juicing them, or chopping them onto salads or into baked goods. Either way, start eating these delicious, inexpensive foods any way you can!
Being strong isn’t just about how much protein you get or how much you can bench press. Keep yourself strong over time by building a healthy framework in your bones so those muscles can get all the support they need to maintain strength and density! Do you like any of these power foods?