With Mother's Day just around the corner and people rushing to buy gifts for the women in their lives (we suggest an InsideTracker gift card, hint hint), we thought we'd show our appreciation with a special video interview. Laura Ligos is an InsideTracker team member and Cornell-educated, registered dietitian. Plus, she's a Level 1 CrossFit coach. Laura knows a thing or two about healthy eating, and in this video, she breaks down her five favorite foods for female health.
Wondering what they are? Watch and learn. Spoiler alert: they're all delicious! Case in point, Laura admits, "I'm pretty sure that the day I created this list, I ate all of these foods in one meal."
Of course, while each of these fabulous foods can be beneficial, the bottom line is that no single set of foods is right for every person, every day. Your body changes in response to age, the environment, stress, exercise and other lifestyle choices. That's why it's important to test to see exactly what your body needs at this moment in time.
01:25 - Food #1
04:15 - Food #2
06:10 - Food #3
07:50 - Food #4
10:00 - Food #5
Men and women's bodies have different needs. That's why we've created 2 FREE e-Books to help you understand which biomarkers to optimize — one for men, one for women!
Erin: What's up everybody? I'm excited to be here with one of our very own, in fact our newest team member here on Inside Tracker, Laura Ligos. Laura, hi.
Laura: Hi. How are you doing?
Erin: So Laura joined our sales team but she has an extra special background because she is a registered dietitian and a cross-fit level 1 trainer and anyone who knows anything about how we operate around here knows that those two things are pretty important to us. And so I wanted to catch up with Laura because it's Mother's Day and obviously we care about all women. And if you're not a mother, then you're obviously born to one and if your current mother is not around, there's a mother in your life somehow whether it's an aunt, a sister, a cousin, a grandparent, obviously everyone has a mother. And so we figured we will do something that all women can benefit from and please feel free to share this video with all the moms and females that you know in your life.
So we thought what would be cool was to give you guys the top 5 foods for female health and that's a very broad category. We can talk about a lot of different things but there are a couple of key areas, right Laura, where foods can impact the female body in a pretty important way. And so I'm going to let you take it away starting with avocados.
Laura: Great. So avocado is one of my favorite foods. It should be its own food group. It's high in fat but I want everyone to get rid of that bad connotation with fat and push that fat phobia aside and open up a ripe avocado, take a spoon to it and enjoy it. Avocado is a really great source of all different types of fat, all saturated and unsaturated, rich in vitamins and minerals and can help improve some of your bio markers like blood glucose, cholesterol, even inflammation. And a lot of people tell me “Oh, I want to fight aging or I want to optimize my energy, maybe lose fat, regulate my blood sugar.” All of these things can be done by incorporating avocado, even just one serving a day into your diet. If you're looking for ways to incorporate it, like I said you can literally just cut it open, take a spoon, put some salt and pepper on there and enjoy it as is. You can put it on a salad, mix it in a smoothie, top your eggs with it. Honestly, I like to just cut one open for dinner, no matter what my dinner is and just put it right on top of there and it's delicious.
Erin: Great minds think alike. I do the same thing. And just to touch on something that people might be concerned about and not just women but men too, sort of have been raised in this fat-phobic society, right? So the idea being that oh, we see that our recommended daily allowance is X grams of fat and an avocado has a lot of fat and therefore we're scared of it. So tell me why they shouldn't be scared of it?
Laura: Fat is a good thing. Fat can help first off your brain by weight percentage is like over 70% fat and cholesterol. So if you want to think clearly and have a good brain and decrease also dementia down the road, eat your fat and avocado happens to be a great source of that. Even you can – avocado is a great facial mask and it's just because your skin absorbs nice fat and needs those fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K and so avocado helps with that. Smooth, luscious skin, what woman doesn't want that?
Erin: That's right.
Laura: And the great thing about the fat in the avocado too is it's satisfying. So if you were to eat this versus a bag of chips chances are that you're going to be a lot more satisfied after an avocado than you are with a bag of chips because we all know that once you open a bag of chips you're going to eat the entire thing. With an avocado chances are you're going to be full after a half of it so...
Erin: A lot of fiber, too.
Laura: Yeah, a lot of fiber and the fat. It's like a win-win.
Erin: Yeah. So speaking of fiber, the next food on your hit list is oats. So I think that most people understand why oats or oatmeal is good for you but maybe not so I'll let you take it away.
Laura: Oats is something that I've recently reintroduced into my diet because I'm someone who can't have gluten but there are gluten-free oats out there. So they're pretty easy on the digestion which is a huge part in people's health. Your gut is your second brain so you've got to keep that healthy and moving well. They're high end soluble fibers which can help if you suffer from high cholesterol. Not that the cholesterol certainly a bad thing but if we're focusing on – if we have more LDL which is our “bad” cholesterol and less HDL, oats actually tend to decrease the LDL and increase the HDL and helps kind of move your cholesterol where it should be as opposed to floating around in your blood stream which can eventually lead to plaque.
It's also great for blood sugar regulation. So if you're someone who is experiencing I call it like the the 2 to 4 pm crash at work. It's something because it's rich in fiber, it's actually going to stay with you longer and help not going to drive up your blood sugar as fast as let's say a bowl of processed flakes which hopefully no one out there is eating. And it can also help with things like cortisol which is your stress hormone. So there's a lot of benefits there. Tons of ways to incorporate it. You can just eat a bowl of it. Don't get the super [inaudible 05:23] one, just get something like steel-cut oats or just plain rolled oat and then add your own flavor to it. My personal favorite right now is savory oats and I love it because you can add vegetables to it and most people forget to eat their vegetables for breakfast. So a great way to do that.
Erin: I just had it this morning actually. [inaudible 05:42] rolled oats and I had kale some kale in it. So it was savory oats with a little coconut milk.
Laura: Oh, look at that.
Erin: Aren't you proud of me?
Laura: Did you top it with avocado?
Erin: No, actually not this morning.
Laura: [inaudible 05:54]
Erin: You know why? I find oats actually very filling. Not the instant kind, when there the whole oats..
Laura: Oh yeah.
Erin: ...and avocado is usually just a little bit too much for me. I have the coconut milk in there, so..
Laura: That's okay. Good
Erin: ...so I got my fat. All right. #3 on your list for foods for women is berries. You've got good food here, Laura.
Laura: Yes. I mean I was a little selfish when I picked some of these because I personally eat all of them and I'm pretty sure the day that I create the list I ate all of them in one meal. But that's that's beside the point. So berries are also a very nutrient-dense foods. They are lower in calorie, higher in nutrients. So per bite you're getting a huge punch without getting a huge caloric load. Not that calories are a bad thing but I use the term qualories. If you're going to eat calories you need to eat quality. So berries fall into that category. What's awesome too is that there are so many different kinds: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries. You get to take your pick. I personally like to mix them all up because they're all delicious in their own right. They're rich in fiber which can keep you full. They have a good amount of vitamin C which can help with your immunity and tons of antioxidants which can help reduce inflammation.
So they are kind of a – their power house as far as fruits go because sometimes eating too much fruit can increase your blood sugar and berries actually have a lower glycemic index which actually helps to blunt the effect of a high blood sugar. So they can help with your blood glucose like I said. They can help with your inflammation in the body. They are great post-workout snack to have because they're going to give you the carbohydrates and give you the antioxidants which can help reduce the damage done by workout.
Ways to incorporate it: I like to put it on top of my oatmeal, with my yogurt, on top of a salad or honestly sometimes I like to just eat them with my fingers because who doesn't like to eat fruit with their fingers?
Erin: You're my kind of girl. All right. #4 is fatty fish. So we're back to the fat again. Good fat. I know fatty fish is particularly important for female health. So maybe tell everybody listening a little bit about that.
Laura: So fish is one of those foods that I find 90% of my clients don't eat enough of. It's either because they don't know how to cook it or they say they don't like the texture or the smell. So we need to get past that. Fish is delicious and there's ways to do it that don't require your house smelling like a stinky ocean for the rest of the day. They are good source of anti-inflammatory and omega-free fatty acids.
So basically it is the big fancy term for fat that happens to be healthy for you, once again. They can reduce the inflammation in your body. It's also a great source of protein and B12 which can help with energy. It can help with strength because a lot of women want to be strong these days, thank goodness, it makes me happy. And it can also help reduce cortisol because of the anti-inflammatory effects. And a lot of females tend to have a lot of stress in their life. Maybe self-induced, maybe because you're a mother with 2 kids under the age of 4, you have a full time job and you have to get food on the table at night. So you have a lot going on and eating fish will help with all of that. Certainly if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, make sure that you not eat too much or under-eating and work with a professional. But otherwise a great source of the Omega 3s and once again, your brain is in a large part fat so eat your fish and maybe you'll be smarter. I don't know. I can't make that claim but...
Erin: It's good brain food. Well, there is proof obviously that all of the things, all of the nutrients that you mentioned do benefit cognitive function. And that's something that we know Alzheimer's and dementia and decline in cognitive functions in general, in women as well as in man is a pretty significant issue. Especially these days with all the environmental load that we're exposed to. So eat your fish, right
Laura: Yeah. Absolutely.
Erin: And last but not least, #5 we have dark leafy greens. So I know we went back and forth on what #5 would be but I like this choice
Laura: Yeah, I mean there's so many good options out there as far as food goes. I'm a foody so I could talk about food all they but I find that dark leafy green vegetables they also aren't incorporated enough into your diet and they're rich, they're once again nutrient dense, they're rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, all these big fancy words that help with a ton of both female and male related issues. So even just your bone health, a lot of people think that the only place you gain calcium from is milk and we're not going to open that can of worms today but dark leafy green vegetables have calcium and can be absorbed pretty easily and digested by many as long as you chew them and/or cook them correctly. And so I just think that per bite you're getting a ton of nutrition without any of the ill effects of other nutrients out there. They can help lower colesterol, they can help lower cortisol, they're great if you're looking to lose fat and increase energy and metabolism, all the nutrients in there can help fight aging which who wants to grow old?
Erin: It's unavoidable...
Laura: Yes, it's unavoidable.
Erin: ...but you can grow old gracefully.
Laura: Exactly. I like that. Yes.
Erin: So... Go ahead. Sorry.
Laura: Oh sorry. So ways to incorporate it, you can eat them raw or cooked. Certainly if you're going to eat them raw I always recommend chewing your food a lot. A lot of us like to inhale our food but in order to digest it properly, you do need to chew it. Mix it in a smoothie, put it in an omelet, enjoy it on your savory oats which has fish and avocado in it. Look at that, 4 in 1.
Erin: Might as well put some berries in there.
Laura: Side of berries.
Erin: So plenty ways to enjoy that. You can have a salad or just eat them as is, I don't know. Just grab some spinach.
Erin: Well, the good news is that we have tons of recipes for leafy greens, for fish, for things with berries, for oats and I mean we've got recipes galore on Inside Tracker obviously if you're watching this and if you're a customer then you've already seen our recipes in your food basket and if you're not, then wink, wink, maybe you want to test it, see what it is that you actually need to eat. And the other thing of course is that we have to remind everyone is that not every food is right for everybody. So people have allergies, sometimes people are deficient, sometimes people have too much of a particular thing. At one point my B12 was coming in super, super high on my Inside Tracker results and one of the recommendations was to eat less foods that support B12. And so just because a food is technically good for the body, it doesn't necessarily mean that you need to be consuming it all the time, right
Laura: Absolutely. And variety is the spice of life, that's what I like to say. And so if we can vary up our diet and make it a little different, then I think we can really benefit from all the different vitamins and minerals that all the different foods out there have to play.
Erin: Well, thank you so much Laura. We have to do another one like this with you soon, maybe for Father's Day we'll do food for men.
Laura: Ooh, game on
Erin: Not that food by the way – anyone watching – is not exclusive by gender...
Erin: But of course men and women have different hormonal needs and so different things will support different functions biologically, depending on your gender and your age. Things change over time so...
Erin: So I think that all 5 foods can serve anyone pretty well at any time.
Erin: Unless you have a deadly allergy to fish, then please don't eat fish.
Laura: Yes. Definitely. Allergies are nothing to mess with. And hey, maybe you can make savory oats with a side of berries for your mom for Mother's Day.
Erin: There you go.
Laura: Next to the gift card of Inside Tracker.
Erin: Perfect. Did you say you were a sales person, Laura?
Erin: Laura is a member of our sales team. Thanks so much. Really appreciate it.
Laura: Yeah, absolutely.
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