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Sheryl Kraft

Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.

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Mixed Organic Berries

Are You Eating These 3 Important Foods?

Nutrition & Movement

There's no shortage of advice on what to eat to maintain your health. And then, when you've finally made some choices, that's not often the end of the story. It can be mighty tough to slog through all the information that accompanies that choice. It's not just pasta, but whole-wheat, Kamut, gluten-free, artichoke flour, rice flour, whole-grain and a dizzying list of others.

It's not just oatmeal, but steel-cut, instant, quick-cooking and old-fashioned.

Does eating healthfully really have to be so confusing?

There are certain healthy foods that every woman needs. And the good news is that they're easy to remember, understand and shop for.

1. Low-Fat Yogurt
It's been around forever—with good reason. Since yogurt comes from milk, you'll get a dose of animal protein, along with other nutrients found in dairy foods including bone-healthy calcium, vitamin B-12, potassium and magnesium.

One of yogurt's prime advantages is in the probiotics it contains—those friendly bacteria that naturally live in our digestive system. Research is ongoing, but there is some evidence that some strains of probiotics can help boost your immune system and keep your digestive tract healthy, relieving conditions like constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, lactose intolerance, diarrhea, H.pylori infection and maybe even high blood pressure.

2. Strawberries and Blueberries
Berries as a health ally is not new news. They score low in calories, high in fiber and are packed with phytochemicals, flavonoids, vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, magnesium, folate and potassium.

Because of the powerful anticancer nutrients they contain, which are believed to play a role in cell repair, berries might decrease the risk of several cancers like breast and colon.

What is new is a recent study finding that younger women who ate at least three servings of strawberries or blueberries each week reduced their likelihood of suffering a heart attack compared to women who ate fewer berries but whose diets included fruits and vegetables. This is because of the anthocyanins (water-soluble pigments) berries contain. Those substances are known to dilate arteries and counter the buildup of plaque that is responsible for atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

3. Beans
These get a bad reputation because of their association with gas, causing many to steer clear of them. But don't turn your back on beans so soon: They're low in fat, high in fiber and protein and may have protective effects against breast cancer and heart disease. They also may help stabilize female hormones.

It doesn't stop there: Beans, because of their soluble and insoluble fiber, may play a role in helping to lower cholesterol. They also contain isoflavones, which can help in the regulation of hormones and help with the symptoms of PMS, perimenopause and menopause.

And don't ignore other varieties of legumes, which are also health powerhouses, including lentils, peas and peanuts.

READ: 5 Reasons to Love Peanuts

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