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Menopause Diet

Healthy foods for women with menopause

A healthy diet is important in all stages of life. It's even more important during menopause to keep the body healthy as it adjusts to major changes. Because menopause is associated with weight gain as well as increased risk for some diseases like heart disease and osteoporosis, it's especially important to choose a diet that minimizes those risks. Here are some menopause diet tips:

  • Eat a wide variety of nutritious foods and limit junk foods like sweets and chips. This doesn't mean you can never indulge in a treat; it just means picking them carefully and enjoying them in small amounts.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Choose sweet fruits as a snack instead of cake or candy. Fresh is usually best, but buy whatever you will eat. Dried fruits are convenient, but watch portion sizes as they tend to be calorie dense. Frozen vegetables are quick-frozen at their peak freshness, so they are also a convenient option.
  • Get plenty of fiber. Choose whole grain breads and cereals instead of highly processed white breads or sugary cereals. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also a good source of fiber.
  • Continue to get enough iron. You're no longer losing iron with your periods, but iron is still important to good health. Lean red meat, eggs and leafy green vegetables are rich in iron. Nuts and enriched grains are also good sources, but be careful as these are also high in fat.
  • Increase calcium intake. Eat plenty of dairy products and other calcium-rich foods like broccoli and legumes. If you don't eat much dairy, consider a calcium supplement along with vitamin D (vitamin D helps the body absorb the calcium). Getting enough calcium is important to preserve bone density.
  • Drink plenty of liquids. All liquids are good (except alcohol), but watch the calories in soda and fruit juices. Also, limit caffeinated sodas, which can decrease bone density. Juices and soda are fine in moderation, but water is the best hydrator.
  • Limit fats. This is good advice at any age, but with menopause comes an increased risk of heart disease. Too much fat can increase this risk further.
  • Consider soy products. Soy contains plant estrogens called isoflavones that might help relieve hot flashes. If you've had breast cancer, talk to a doctor first. Fresh, frozen or roasted soy beans as well as tofu and soymilk are tasty sources.
  • Don't use diet pills to combat weight gain. Many companies advertise special formulations for menopausal women. These formulations are questionable at best, and most are just useless. Many contain caffeine and related compounds (kola nut, coca nut and yerba mate), which can make hot flashes worse.

Make reasonable and informed food choices to stay healthy for years to come.

By Melissa J. Luther

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