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1 year ago
The Best Foods For Women in Their 20s

Calcium (and Vitamin D) for Bone-Building
The Problem: This is your last chance to strengthen your skeleton. When you hit 30, you're pretty much stuck with what you've got.

The Fix: Drink two eight-ounce glasses of vitamin D-fortified, low-fat milk every day. You'll get 581 milligrams of calcium and five micrograms of vitamin D, the perfect nutrient combo to develop break-resistant bones.

Broccoli also deserves a place on your menu. It contains a respectable 43 milligrams of calcium per cup and is also home to magnesium, vitamin K, and phosphorus, all of which, research shows, play a major role in keeping you upright from here to Social Security.

Find naked broccoli unbearably boring? Top it with a nearly decadent layer of melted low-fat cheddar for the ultimate bone-friendly side dish, says ADA spokesperson Kerry Neville, R.D.

Microwave Meals for the Time-Crunched
The Problem: Between jobs, boyfriends, working out, and trying to keep some measure of a social life, who has time to eat, let alone eat healthily?

The Fix: Choose microwave-friendly meals that have the perfect balance of protein, carbs, and veggies in one package (we like Kashi's Sweet and Sour Chicken).

In general, look for these qualifications when choosing a frozen feast: 450 milligrams or less of sodium and no more than three grams of total and one gram of saturated fat per 100 calories, says Constance Brown-Riggs, R.D., spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Bonus: Harvard scientists found that every one-serving increase in daily vegetable intake decreases your risk of heart disease by 4 percent.

Beef for Sports Injuries
Whether it's because you're bombing down black diamonds or entering too many charity 5-Ks, you are seven times as likely to tear an ACL as a man in the same age group.

The Fix: Beef. It's the perfect muscle food because it's packed with protein and creatine—both build muscle, which basically acts like bubble wrap around tendons and joints.

Try this ligament-loving Tex-Mex salad recipe: Brown a quarter pound of extra-lean ground beef over medium heat. As it cooks, sprinkle it with black pepper, two teaspoons of chili powder, and a couple dashes of hot sauce. Place the cooked beef, one diced tomato, and two tablespoons of low-fat cheese over a bed of lettuce and top with salsa.

Flaxseed for Undetected Depression
The Problem: A Red Bull may boost your mood temporarily, but it won't improve your long-term outlook.

The Fix: Eat a tablespoon of ground flaxseed every day.

It's the best source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a fatty acid that researchers say improves the operation of the cerebral cortex. That's the area of the brain that processes sensory information, including pleasure signals.

To meet your quota, sprinkle it on salads, vegetables, and cereal, or mix it into a smoothie or a shake. You can find ground flaxseed in the health-food section of your grocery store.

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