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30 Best Foods for Women Over 40, According to a Dietitian

Rev your metabolism, strengthen your bones, and sharpen your mind with every meal.

best foods for women over 40 - best diet for women
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As you age, your metabolism slows down, you begin to lose muscle mass, and your hormone levels go a bit wonky, making you more prone to weight gain, mood changes, and health problems you may not have dealt with during your younger years. Fortunately, there are things you can do to increase your fat-burning capabilities, stabilize your energy, and minimize your disease risk.

In addition to following a regular exercise routine, getting enough sleep, and reducing your stress levels, eating antioxidant-rich foods can help you curb hunger and cravings while improving your overall health. So what foods should go on your plate? Sarah Mirkin, R.D.N., author of Fill Your Plate, Lose The Weight, a 21-day weight loss plan for women over 40, shared her favorite nutritional all-stars. From dark chocolate to salmon to vibrant berries, these foods are full of flavor and age-reversing nutrients.

best foods for women over 40 - flaxseeds
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Flaxseeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fats for a sharp mind and healthy heart. Plus, they’re great for your gut. “As we age, it’s more important to eat the right foods to keep your gut health in check,” says Mirkin. “Flaxseeds are loaded with fiber for long-term digestive health.”

Just be sure to use ground flaxseeds or grind whole ones; your body digests and absorbs the nutrients from ground flaxseeds better than whole ones.

Try it: Toss some over these filling breakfast bowls.

Best Foods for Women Over 40 - Salmon
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Wild salmon

Fatty fish, like salmon, are rich in omega-3s and a good source of lean protein. And while fat has more than double the calories of protein and carbohydrates, it is key to keeping your cravings in check. “Salmon is not only satisfying and delicious, but it will also make your skin glow, reduce your risk of disease, and even curb your hunger,” Mirkin says.

Try it: Salmon Salad with Avocado and Sweet Grape Tomatoes

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Fill Your Plate, Lose the Weight

Get this 21-day weight loss plan for women over 40. Filled with meal plans, grocery lists, and delicious high-protein recipes, you’ll lose weight and start feeling great.

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Packed with healthy fats, avocados can help keep your skin plump, nourish your hair, and help lower blood pressure, thanks to their decent potassium content. “Although avocados are very high in fat, they are linked with weight loss because they are so satisfying,” says Mirkin.

Try it: Shrimp, Avocado, and Egg Chopped Salad from Fill Your Plate, Lose The Weight

mixed nuts and dried fruit
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Nuts make a filling snack that promotes weight loss because they’re high in fiber, healthy fats, and protein. Bonus: The nutrients in nuts help reduce your risk of chronic conditions, like diabetes and heart disease, says Mirkin.

Try it: These cherry chocolate granola bars pack a double dose of nuts with almond butter and chopped almonds.

best foods for women over 40 - watercress
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Shake up your go-to salad with this peppery leafy green while keeping your skin glowing in the process. “It’s packed with water, vitamin C, vitamin A, and antioxidants that kill free radicals,” Mirkin says, one of the main aggressors of premature skin damage.

Try it: Cucumber and Melon Salad with Watercress, Herbs, and Feta

best foods for women over 40 - sauerkraut
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Made from fermented cabbage, this tangy condiment is packed with gut-boosting probiotics—a.k.a. good bacteria—making it a nutritional must-have for women over 40. Research shows that these that healthy bugs may improve your immune function, mood, digestive system, and even your skin.

Try it: Chicken Reuben Quesadillas With Sauerkraut

best foods for women over 40 - dark chocolate
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Dark chocolate

Chocolate may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to better nutrition after 40, but this after-dinner indulgence can actually do wonders for your health. “Dark chocolate is rich in flavonols, which protect your heart, reduce the risk of diabetes, and lower blood pressure, ” Mirkin says. Stick to chocolate bars that contain at least 70% cocoa and less than 6 grams of added sugar to get the most nutritional bang out of every serving.

Try it: 13 Healthy Dark Chocolate Bars That Aren’t Sugar Bombs

best foods for women over 40 - dark leafy greens
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Dark Leafy Greens

“Dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and mustard greens, contain high amounts of vitamin K, lutein, folate, calcium, and beta carotene, which can preserve memory functioning,” says Mirkin.

Try it: Add a handful of greens to one of these high-protein smoothie recipes for a nutrition boost.

Fresh berries in a basket on rustic wooden background.
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Berries will naturally brighten your dish and supply hunger-curbing fiber to satisfy sweet cravings. Their gem-like hues are a great indicator of their nutrient concentration. “Dark pigmentation and rich color means the berries are high in disease-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals,” Mirkin explains.

Try it: 6 Creative (and Delicious) Ways to Eat More Berries

best foods for women over 40 - garlic
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Garlic is a serious wellness wonder, especially for women over 40. “Studies suggest that garlic can minimize bone loss by increasing estrogen levels. It is also nutrient-rich with very few calories and adds flavor to foods so you’re satisfied with less,” Mirkin says.

Try it: Creamy Roasted Garlic Soup

best foods for women over 40 - edamame
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Edamame packs 9 grams of muscle-building plant protein in just ½ cup for less than 100 calories. These versatile soybeans are also a great source of folate (vitamin B9), iron, vitamins C and A, and potassium for your heart.

Try it: Roast some with flaky sea salt or perk up your favorite pasta dish with a handful (we love this lemony shells with edamame recipe).

Best Foods for Women Over 40 - Greek Yogurt
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Greek Yogurt

Keep your bones strong with a serving of rich and creamy Greek yogurt every day. “It’s an excellent source of calcium and contains almost no sodium,” Mirkin says. Greek yogurt packs more protein and has a thicker consistency than other yogurts, so it’s the perfect snack for keeping you full and energized. Plus, it has active cultures that support gut health.

Try it: Enjoy Greek yogurt in these overnight oats recipes, or try it at dinner with these spice-roasted carrots and parsnips.

best foods for women over 40 - olive oil
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Extra virgin olive oil

Is there anything more delicious than EVOO drizzled over warm, crusty bread? A staple of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is rich in unsaturated fats that have anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties to promote longevity and optimal heart health.

Try it: Use a healthy dose of olive in these delicious homemade salad dressing recipes.

best foods for women over 40 - eggs
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Any way you scramble it, eggs are a nutritional multitasker. They contain vitamin D for bone health, choline for brain function, and protein for preserving muscle. Mirkin suggests scrambling one egg with three egg whites for a slimming and filling breakfast. “The high fat and protein content (plus lack of carbohydrates and sugars) in eggs makes them an excellent choice for women over 40,” says Mirkin.

Try it: Need meal prep ideas? Try these delicious breakfast egg muffins.

best foods for women over 40 - chia seeds
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Chia seeds

Chia seeds may be tiny, but they’re mighty with filling fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium for healthy bones, and complete plant-based protein. Because they absorb water so well, downing chia is also thought to help boost your satiety.

Try it: Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

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Despite their translucent appearance, onions are dense in vital nutrients. “They are high in the protective antioxidant vitamin C, B vitamins for a healthy metabolism, and potassium for stable blood pressure levels,” Mirkin says.

Try it: Prep some caramelized onions in advance to add to sandwiches, stir-fries, salads, and soups for a burst of flavor.

best foods for women over 40 - carrots
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Carrots are packed with beta carotene (the pigment responsible for their vibrant hue), which is converted into vitamin A—a superstar nutrient that supports immunity and boosts eye health. “In your 40s, it’s more important than ever to eat more vitamin A-rich foods, because they also protect your eyes from cataracts,” Mirkin. Carrots are also high in potassium to stabilize blood pressure, fiber for better digestion, and vitamin K for bone health.

Try it: Spice-Roasted Carrots and Parsnips with Yogurt and Turmeric Vinaigrette

best foods for women over 40 - broccoli
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Broccoli is chock-full of antioxidants, phytonutrients, and vitamins C, B6, and A—all of which Mirkin says can help stave off chronic conditions like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s as you age. Plus, you’ll get tons of healthy fiber for better digestion.

Try it: If you’re not too keen on the taste of broccoli, try blending it with stronger flavors, like we did in this herbed broccoli cauliflower soup recipe.

best foods for women over 40 - chicken
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There’s a reason chicken has become a weight loss staple: It packs roughly 25 grams of protein in just 4 ounces (or about the size of your palm). It’s also fairly low and fat in calories, making it a leaner choice that most red meats.

Try it: 25 High-Protein Chicken Recipes for Weight Loss

best foods for women over 40 - bell peppers
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Bell peppers

Believe it or not, all bell peppers contain more vitamin C than an orange, an antioxidant that’s thought to boost immunity and promote collagen production. Any color will do, but red is the sweetest if you prefer your crunchy snack to be less bitter.

Try it: Baby Bok Choy with Shiitake Mushrooms and Red Bell Peppers

best foods for women over 40 - beans
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Beans are loaded with fiber to keep your blood sugar stable, along with folate and iron. Get even more out of this vegetarian protein source by choosing darker varieties (like kidney or black beans), which have higher concentrations of antioxidants and phytonutrients.

Try it: Healthy Black Bean Burgers

best foods for women over 40 - Quinoa
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Quinoa is a complete plant protein—and serves up a whopping 8 grams per 1-cup serving! The fluffy grain also offers tons of gut-healthy fiber to keep you feeling satisfied. Bonus: It cooks up faster than brown rice and barley.

Try it: Honey-Spiced Salmon with Quinoa

best foods for women over 40 - basil
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Basil is loaded with polyphenols, which are beneficial in soothing chronic pain associated with arthritis, and even help protect your liver, brain, and heart, according to Mirkin.

Try it: Perk up your salad or pasta dish with a sprinkle of minced basil, or whip up some strawberry pesto to spread on a sandwich.

best foods for women over 40 - ginger root
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Ginger root

Just one teaspoon of ginger per week can improve your artery function, says Mirkin. Studies also show the fragrant root (often when taken in supplement form) may also help prevent diabetes, ease menstrual and muscle pain, and possibly even ward off obesity. If you’re prone to tummy troubles, it’s also a great natural remedy for nausea and other digestive issues.

Try it: Traditional Medicinals Organic Ginger Herbal Tea

best foods for women over 40 - sweet potatoes
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Sweet potatoes

These bright orange tubers fall under the healthy carb category. That’s because sweet potatoes pack tons of gut-filling fiber, magnesium, heart-healthy potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Eat them roasted, baked, or boiled in salads, as fries, or in soups.

Try it: Maple-Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

Fresh tomatoes on wood background
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Juicy tomatoes are amazing in salsas, sauces, salads, and sandwiches. And they’re nutritional superstars, too. Red tomatoes, in particular, are rich in lycopene, a carotenoid that may help reduce your risk of chronic diseases. The tangy fruits are also low in calories but high in potassium, zinc, and vitamin C.

Try it: Sautéed Cherry Tomatoes and White Beans

best foods for women over 40 - mushrooms
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One study found that mushrooms contain much higher amounts of two important antioxidants than most other foods: ergothioneine (ERGO) and glutathione (GSH). ERGO, in particular, is known to mitigate oxidative stress, a process that plays a role in aging and diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. They’re also one of the few food sources of vitamin D.

Try it: Farro and Wild Mushroom Dressing

best foods for women over 40 - oregano
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This powerful green herb is “rich in antioxidants that fight free radical damage,” says Mirkin, potentially helping to stave off disease-causing inflammation.

Try it: Sprinkle this subtly sweet Italian staple on everything from salads to pastas.

best foods for women over 40 - citrus fruits
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Citrus fruits

Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, and the like boast tons of antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, and other nutrients that research shows can boost your brain health, aid weight loss, protect your heart, and keep your skin looking radiant.

Try it: Lentil and Steak Salad With Grapefruit

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