Broccoli’s benefits are well known, but did you know that fennel is “a woman’s best friend”?
When was the last time you ate some fennel? If naturopath Emma Sutherland had her way, women would be consuming a daily serve of this leafy veg. Here, Sutherland, the co-author of 50 Foods That Will Change Your Life (Penguin), names the five foods that women should have daily to help prevent cancers and chronic disease as well as look and feel great.
This is the star food for cancer prevention, Sutherland says. “It’s high in the compound glucosinolate, which when eaten regularly can help the body metabolise oestrogen more effectively, reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancers.” It’s also loaded with antioxidant vitamins C and A, and vitamin K for bone and blood health.
Boost your intake: Chop leaves finely and stir-fry with olive oil, garlic, onion and chilli, or use in a green smoothie with celery, apple and pineapple.
“Like kale, this has amazing anti-cancer properties,” Sutherland says. “The phytonutrient diindolylmethane breaks down the ‘bad’ oestrogens our body absorbs from the environment. These are a factor in oestrogen-dependent cancers.”
It also supports the liver to clear the body of toxins, and is high in vitamins and minerals.
Boost your intake: Eat florets raw, or steam and mix with olive oil, garlic and orange zest.
It’s high in vitamin C, fibre, potassium and folate, but its fennel’s anethole compound, which gives its aniseed taste and reduces bloating, that prompts Sutherland to call it “woman’s best friend”. Anti-inflammatory properties can ward off cancers and also offer relief from menstrual pain.
Boost your intake: Sauté with a little olive oil and pepper, use the inner layers in a green salad, or make a tea by steeping seeds in hot water.
The body converts carrot’s betacarotene to vitamin A to support thyroid function, which controls metabolism, Sutherland says. Plus it keeps eyes healthy and helps reduce the risk of breast cancer in pre-menopause and ovarian cancer in post-menopause. High fibre makes them ideal for weight loss.
Boost your intake: Dip batons in hummus or tzatziki, or serve grated with seeds and oil and vinegar dressing.
This is high in vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting, and helps stimulate collagen and bone cell production; glucosinolate compounds make it a cancer-fighter, Sutherland says.
Boost your intake: You absorb vitamin K best with fat, so add as a garnish to salmon.