Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD
Scottsdale Naturopathic Doctor
Happy St. Patrick's Day! I thought I would share my favorite Naturopathic green foods for women today. As a Women's Health Doctor and hormone specialist, it is imperative that women eat healthy and incorporate hormone balancing herbs and nutrition into their daily diets. By relying on food as medicine women can work to avoid using prescription drugs, or at least keep them to a minimal level.
#1 Cabbage: Of course, since we are celebrating St. Patties Day we MUST celebrate cabbage! Recently I went to an Irish Pub and ordered corned beef and cabbage, and was horrified to find out that the beef is “corned” because it is brined with corn sized pieces of salt! No wonder it was too salty for me to eat.
Hold the corned beef, but keep the cabbage because it is a powerful cancer fighter thanks to the indole-3-carbinol content. This is also a great breast cancer preventative for women as it decreases estrone the “bad estrogen” while maintaining healthy levels of estradiol or the “good estrogen.” Cabbage is also full of sulforaphane which also prevents cancer via this estrogen detox mechanism and other anti-cancer properties. As a Women's Health Naturopath, I always have to remind women of what an important superfood cabbage is, and how important eating daily cruciferous vegetables are to protect their breasts, uterus, and ovaries from cancer.
When estrogen pools and is not detoxified it remains high as bad estrogen or estrone which increases breast cancer risk. Estrogen is like water. Too much is just as bad as not enough. Being overweight causes an increase in bad estrogen which then furthers insulin resistance which causes more weight gain. That is the estrogen dominant loop many women get stuck in when they cannot lose weight.
Women often seek me out as a Hormone Doctor because they think they have hypothyroidism or Hashimotos causing weight gain, but oftentimes it is this elevated bad estrogen situation happening.
In the meat industry, they give shots of estrogen to cattle to fatten them up so they can sell the meat for more dollars per pound. So having high levels of estrogen is the last thing women want to have if they are overweight and cannot figure out why.
While lack of estrogen is a problem in menopause, estrogen dominant conditions such as PMS, PCOS, Insulin Resistance, Weight Gain, will improve with cabbage.
#2 Olive Oil: I cannot speak highly enough for the virtues of using olive oil as your primary cooking oil in your kitchen. My basic cooking rule of thumb as a Naturopathic Doctor and Biochemist is to simply use olive oil when cooking for ALL recipes unless the flavor will not work. That is only when I deviate to a different oil because olive oil is true antioxidant magic at its finest! Otherwise, olive oil is a RICH antioxidant source as I stated in my article, “Olive Oil Prevents DNA Damage.” If olive oil is NOT green, is yellow, and has no flavor or tastes bitter….it is...FAKE!
There are many fake olive oils out there, be sure to purchase organic olive oil that is certified from a reputable source or you may be getting overpriced canola oil with food coloring!
#3 Kale: Just like cabbage, kale falls in the cruciferous vegetable category, and all these veggies are super cancer fighters. In addition, kale is rich in magnesium, and trace minerals. To wilt kale, chop it finely, heat a pan to medium heat, add some olive oil and garlic, and when the garlic is soft add the kale, cover, stir occasionally until tender.
#4 Spinach: Whether served up in a salad, soup, or tucked away in an omelet, spinach is one of the most versatile and easy to hide green foods. I always keep a bag of organic frozen spinach in my freezer. This is the easiest way to pump up your recipes with the least amount of effort. Some patients react to the oxalates in spinach which is why you should eat your spinach slightly wilted as I instruct above with Kale.
#5 Chlorella: This blue green algae is great for chelating heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and so forth. Chlorella is a rich protein and magnesium source. Start with a small quantity and work your way up to the manufacturer’s recommendation if you are using it for detox. ALWAYS buy a certified organic brand when it comes to this chlorella or spirulina.
#6 Celery: The dieter’s best friend, celery is an excellent snack that also lowers High Blood Pressure. If you have hypertension try bringing a snack of celery with you every day. My favorite dip for celery is raw almond butter. Although high in fat, it is high in the good fats.
Good Fat + Fiber=Appetite Control=Weight Loss.
#7 Cilantro: An imperative part of salsa, cilantro also chelates heavy metals out of our system, as I discuss in my article "How to Detox After Mercury Fillings." This herb should definitely be included in your herb garden. I mix it in with fajita’s, salsa, guacamole, and stir fry.
#8 Mint: A wonderful cooling, uplifting herb that is highly versatile. You can chew a sprig from your garden, make my ADHD Tea, or make Mojito’s. Mint helps clear your sinuses, lifts depression, soothes migraine headaches when applied to the the temples, and is a powerful antioxidant that will preserve women against aging. There is Chocolate Mint, Pineapple Mint, Spearmint and many forms of mint so you can pop over to your favorite nursery and sample the flavor of each one!
#9 Basil: Basil is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-aging herb of the mint family traditionally used for headaches, arthritis, reducing stress and fevers, as well as making Pesto delicious! The mixture of raw pine nuts, basil, olive oil, and cheese make for a fabulous “superfood feast.” Pesto is a high fat food, but usually used in small quantities. I make mine in the summertime when the basil is on sale. Mass-produce pesto, and freeze in silicone containers, or ice cube trays. Then just add the frozen pesto cubes to hot gluten free noodles and wait for the magic to happen.
#10 Fennel: Did you know you can chew on fennel seeds to help release painful gas and bloating? This is a common traditional herbal remedy. Women don't need Gas-X for bloating, they can just munch on whole fennel seeds! No need to even make them into a tea. While the seeds are a fabulous carminative for gas, the fennel bulb is delicious alone or in salads.
#11 Nasturtiums: I love growing these in my garden because they grow like CRAZY on a dripline in Arizona and thus make me feel like an awesome gardener. There is no happier feeling than watching their beautiful orange, yellow and red blooms pop up while I have done little work to help.
Nasturtium leaves add spice to your salad, and the flowers provide a beautiful garnish. You can buy several types of nasturtiums and let them hang down a wall in a sunny location if you are in a moist environment. If in Scottsdale desert I would keep them low to the ground on a dripline and add extra water when you remember. The tendrils love to dangle down. Harvest simply by pinching back the latest leaves. They help with liver detox, and anger, moodiness, anxiety, and rage with PMS.
#12 Nettles: Seasonal Allergies happen TWICE a year in Phoenix, which is why you really need to make best friends with Stingle Nettles as I discuss in my Nettles blog. Nettles are so fabulous they also made it on my list of "Favorite Naturopathic Herbs for Women." What medication helps your allergies AND helps with Female Hair Loss? If you want thick, long, shiny hair you need to read my articles on how to use nettles!
Women can easily cook with nettles, make tea with nettles or take capsules of the leaves to reduce histamine levels, puffy, itchy watery eyes. I can't have any of my beautiful patients going around with puffy eyes and dark circles under their eyes from allergies. That is the last thing women need right now! Life has been challenging enough! New research recently found nettles to be helpful for night sweats, and hot flashes in menopause which is why they are in my "Menopause Milkshake Recipe." I love to have a cup of nettles tea before bed.
#13 Rosemary: One of my favorite herbs because it has so many different herbal talents. Ultimately rosemary is an amazing antioxidant, great for menopause, circulation and mental functioning. Read: “Rosemary for Memory & ADHD” and “Rosemary Salmon Recipe.”
As you can see in my above photo I like to pick a little sprig of rosemary off my plant and nibble on it as I drive to work in the morning. The essential oil of rosemary is uplifting, helps with depression, ADHD, brain fog, and concentration as I discuss in my ADHD Diet.
#14 Green Apple: Great for the “sour” flavor we are often missing in the Basic American Diet (BAD.) According to Chinese Medicine, we need all five flavors: Salty, Sour, Sweet, Bitter, and Pungent. In America we are out of balance because we eat mainly only salty and sweet. Did you know apples are protective against diabetes, insulin resistance, and a host of other health issues and can help women lose weight? Check out my article on Apples for more info!
#15 Honeydew: I LOVE HONEYDEW! It is nature’s Gatorade and perfect for an outdoor outing where you need electrolyte replacement. Pack some along next time you go hiking, skiing, rock climbing, mountain biking, etc. Honeydew also quenches the thirst better than most drinks. Honeydew is great for cancer patients suffering from “radiation burn” to the throat. Singers, public speakers, and those prone to laryngitis can also benefit from using Honeydew as herbal medicine.
#16 Alfalfa: Alfalfa sprouts, along with other sprouted foods contain vital nutrients and enzymes that should make women feel amazing and youthful. Sprouts contain the enzyme Superoxide Dismutase which is anti-aging and helps protect joints from painful arthritis and autoimmune attacks for those women with chronic pain.
#17 Dandelion Leaves: Spring is the perfect time to harvest dandelion leaves and flowers. Use only the baby leaves in salads as the larger ones are too tough and bitter. The leaves in large quantities have been shown to reduce blood pressure through a diuretic mechanism, and the root detoxifies the liver. The root should be harvested in autumn. Be sure your dandelions are pesticide and herbicide free! Read: “Dandelions: Detox Your Liver”
Green foods are GREAT because they aid with detoxification. Anytime we see a green food we know it is rich in chlorophyll. The cholophyll molecule is very similar in structure to the hemoglobin in our blood, except it contains magnesium in the center instead of iron like hemoglobin. This is why we refer to green veggies and herbs as "Blood Building" in Naturopathic medicine, and why your Natuorpathic Doctor is prescribing greens to boost patients with anemia, chronic fatigue, and weakness.
Magnesium is responsible for over 400+ biochemical pathways in the body, and since most Americans don’t eat enough greens, the top nutrient deficiency in America is likely magnesium.
If you need a Naturopathic Doctor to help you with your nutrition, hormones, or Women's Health issues simply pop over to my SCHEDULE page and treat yourself to a Naturopathic visit. I would be happy to help you feel awesome!
Dr. Nicole Sundene
Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is a Female Hormone Expert in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for Menopause, Thyroid, Hashimotos, PMS, Perimenopause, Autoimmune, Postpartum, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Food Allergies, Digestion, Dermatology, Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema, and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 23 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones, she presents to women the best-integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease.
She has been an Herbalist for over 28 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan (not Medicaid) and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones, and Naturopathy!