Fall is nearly here! Leaves will soon be falling, the sun setting a little earlier, pumpkins are beginning to show their bright color and - wait… their seeds could help balance your hormones? Surprisingly, yes!
Since starting Good Clean Love, I have learned so much about my own body and the ways everyday items like food can play a role in our vaginal health. Many of us may not think about our vaginal health often, but it's valuable to understand how much our vaginal health impacts our overall well-being, both body and mind.
So, here are five foods that every woman could benefit from this autumn.
1. Pumpkin Seeds
Zinc is important for normalizing the menstrual cycle and regulating hormones, and pumpkin seeds are a rich source of this mineral. Zinc is also crucial for boosting mood and strengthening the immune system.
Pumpkin in general has many health benefits you could be taking advantage of this fall, such as being rich in beta-carotene! Beta-carotene is a type of vitamin A that is known to help your body produce collagen, and it also helps to keep your cartilage strong. It is important that you have adequate levels in your body to help stop the spread of infection. Beta-carotene is also a powerful antioxidant and is found in high concentrations in the ovaries. However, if there isn’t enough in the body, levels in the ovaries will be inadequate, and the ovaries will be less likely to be able to fight off attacking infectious agents.
Studies show that adequate levels of beta-carotene can help to prevent excess cell damage. Beta-carotene is also vital for immune function and for the normal growth of the type of tissue found in the vagina.
2. Sweet Potatoes
These potatoes have many sweet benefits because they’re loaded with vitamins and minerals! Rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A, sweet potatoes help strengthen muscle tissues for healthy vaginal and uterine walls. Also, beta-carotene and vitamin A have been shown to have direct effects on fertility and reproduction in both men and women, as well as healthy fetal development - so some research suggests that sweet potatoes could be particularly beneficial for women trying to get pregnant.
The nutrients found in sweet potatoes can also help with the production of sex hormones and are often recommended for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). So cool!
While studying these helpful potatoes, I found they were also rich in other vitamins that lend to overall wellness such as: Vitamin C, An antioxidant, which may decrease the duration of common colds and improve skin health; Potassium, which is important for blood pressure control, and this mineral may decrease the risk of heart disease; Manganese, A trace mineral that is important for growth, development and metabolism; and Vitamin B6, which plays an important role in the conversion of food into energy.
- Here are some delicious and healthy sweet potato toast recipes for energy and an ample dose of vitamin A.
3. Dark Chocolate
I don’t think anyone will be upset about this suggestion! The high-flavonoid kind is a great source of antioxidants and women who eat at least a square a day report increased desire and better overall sexual function. Bon Appétit adds, “Chocolate is also rich in magnesium (which soothes nerves), methylxanthines (boosts libido) and phenylalanine, an amino acid that produces dopamine (the feel-good chemical).”
Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and phytonutrients, explains Dr. Bonci. "It helps prevent LDLs—the bad cholesterol—from adhering to the artery." And better blood flow leads to better sex.
A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa contains:
- 11 grams of fiber
- 67% of your RDI for iron
- 58% of your RDI for magnesium
- 89% of your RDI for copper
- 98% of your RDI for manganese
It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away…and keeps things more interesting in bed apparently! A 2014 study suggested that women who ate an apple once a day had better sex lives. One phytoestrogen phloridzin found in apples is thought to promote better sexual function, arousal, lubrication, and ability to orgasm. What's more, apples are loaded with polyphenols that help boost blood flow to vaginal tissue, which makes it easier to climax. Talk about a fruit with benefits!
- Check out this vegan caramel recipe here for dipping those apples in! Because, fall!
According to a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, women who took a cranberry juice pill equivalent to two 8-ounce servings of cranberry juice for six weeks after gynecological surgery reduced their rate of UTI occurrence by half. Two ingredients in cranberries—fructose and A-type proanthocyanidins (PAC)—may help prevent UTIs by either selecting against more adhesive strains in the stool or by directly preventing bacteria (and E. coli in particular) from adhering to the bladder wall. If you prefer to do the juice, it’s a great option too! We just suggest the sugar free.
- Diet and nutrition in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): pointers for nutritional management.
- Apple consumption is related to better sexual quality of life in young women.
- Chocolate Nutrition Facts
- Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold
- Vitamin C in dermatology
- Potassium and health
- Manganese: pharmacokinetics and molecular mechanisms of brain uptake