Dec. 31, 2010— -- Alyse Levine, LIVESTRONG's nutrition adviser, shared with 'GMA' the top superfoods for women.
Levine has a master's degree and is a registered dietitian.
She said women in their 20s need to have sustained energy throughout the day. Women in their 30s need to stay mentally alert at work throughout the day. As we age, we need to get more nutritional value out of the calories we consume. These superfoods, which are loaded with various nutrients, can help women live a long , healthy and full life.
Green Garbanzo Beans
Nutrient: Folic Acid
Green garbanzo beans are just like regular garbanzo beans but they are harvested earlier. They are higher in protein and fiber and you can eat them raw or roasted. You can probably find them at farmers markets.
These beans are very rich in folic acid, with a whopping 40 percent of your daily value in a 3.5-ounce portion. Women in their 20s and 30s are more or less in the child-bearing age range. Folic acid is essential to avoid birth defects, even before pregnancy. You want to make sure you have enough in your system.
Additionally, folic acid helps prevent spinal and brain defects in children while the fetus is developing in the first few weeks of pregnancy.
Sold between March and May, you can get them raw or roasted from street vendors, or raw from most grocery stores. A portion of 3.5 ounces also has 140 calories, 9 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein and 15 percent of iron.
Pre-menopausal women have double the iron needs than any other women or men. A quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains a little more than 25 percent of your daily needs.
Kale is a superfood loaded with calcium as well as vitamins and other nutrients (like all dark leafy green vegetables). Women are still building up to their peak bone mass stores in their 20s and 30s, and calcium is the key building block. You are still able to build up stores in your 20s and 30s. Building strong bones early in life helps prevent osteoporosis and allows for increased mobility later in life.
Besides calcium, dark green leafy vegetables contain vitamins A, C, and K, folate (the naturally occurring form of folate), iron, fiber and the fat soluble vitamins A, K, D and E . They are truly nutrient powerhouses.
Women in 30s or 40s
Nutrient: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
You may think of fatty fish for omega 3s, but Chia seeds, or purslane -- a green leafy plant -- are also a good source. They come from different plant-based sources that are important for women in their 30s and 40s and help to prevent heart disease. They reduce triglycerides while increasing HDL ("good" cholesterol). Another bonus: Chia seeds turn into Chia pets.
Women, especially those older than 40, whose lipid profiles show a high ratio of triglycerides to HDL, are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Omega-3-rich fish oil supplements do double-duty in protecting the heart and blood vessels by bringing triglyceride levels down while at the same time increasing HDL.
In addition to the better known sources of omega 3s -- fatty fish, flaxseeds and walnuts -- you may want to add Chia seeds or purslane both are nutritious foods that are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Nutrient: Vitamin C
Brussels sprouts have more vitamin C than any other vegetable. One cup has more than 100 percent of your daily vitamin C needs. They also help in collagen production, which can help lessen appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Brussels sprouts are also a great source of fiber, folic acid and the powerful phytonutrient called sulforaphane.
Eating pistachios can reduce the effects of stress and lower blood pressure. Women in their 30s and 40s are managing a house and a career and pistachios can lower stress. Plus you can get more nuts out of a single serving. A single ounce has 49 nuts. So you can eat more of them.
Often an overlooked nut, pistachios will be a super food in 2011. They help reduce total and bad cholesterol, as well as increase antioxidants in your blood that are associated with lowering oxidized bad cholesterol (a 1.5 ounce serving/day).
Women 50 or older
Nutrient: Vitamin E
Black is the new black; black foods are increasing in popularity. They are loaded in antioxidants, and you can't get antioxidants from supplements, only from food. Rich in vitamin E, there are hundreds of studies supporting the benefits of this powerful antioxidant in reducing the risk of heart disease, a concern for many post-menopausal women. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women older than 65.
Teff-Laced Chocolate Muffin, Anyone?
They are available all year-round in dried, frozen and juice forms. They help reduce inflammation in the joints and reduce symptoms of arthritis. Not only are cherries great-tasting, but they're packed with powerful antioxidants that may reduce risk factors for heart disease and ease arthritis pain. They also have melatonin, which can help women fall asleep easier (a common issue for those going through menopause).
Cherries also help fight the harmful effects of chemicals, pollutants and molecules called free radicals that may contribute to aging and certain diseases (heart disease, cancer and arthritis). If you are a woman in your 50s, incorporating cherries into your routine will not only help you reduce inflammation in your muscles and joints, but it may help manage the aches and pains of aging.
Teff is a cool wholegrain. One-fourth a cup of teff has six grams of fiber so it helps you feel more satisfied. Fiber may help reduce cholesterol and the risk of diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. It also makes you feel fuller so it can help you manage your weight, especially around menopause.
The gluten-free whole grain is nutrient dense and contains high levels of fiber, protein, calcium and iron too. A quarter cup has a whopping 6 grams of fiber. We've got a great recipe for a chocolate muffin with teff.