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Menopause and Good Nutrition

Some risk factors and symptoms associated with aging and menopause can't be changed. However, good nutrition can help prevent or reduce certain conditions that may develop during and after menopause.

Basic Dietary Guidelines for Menopause

During menopause, eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients you need. Since women's diets are often low in iron and calcium, follow these guidelines:

Get enough calcium. Eating and drinking two to four servings of dairy products and calcium-rich foods a day will help ensure that you are getting enough calcium in your daily diet. Calcium is found in dairy products, fish with bones (such as sardines and canned salmon), broccoli, and legumes. An adequate intake of calcium for women aged 51 and older is 1,200 milligrams per day.

Pump up your iron intake. Eating at least three servings of iron-rich foods a day will help ensure that you are getting enough iron in your daily diet. Iron is found in lean red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and enriched grain products. The recommended dietary allowance for iron in older women is 8 milligrams a day.

Get enough fiber. Help yourself to foods high in fiber such as whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Most adult women should get about 21 grams of fiber a day.

Eat fruits and vegetables. Include at least  1 1/2 cups of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables each day

Read labels. Use the package label information to help you to make the best selections for a healthy lifestyle.

Drink plenty of water. This will help you stay hydrated. It's impossible to determine how much water we all need, because this depends on many factors, such as how much you eat, the climate you live in, and how active you are. As a general rule, drinking eight glasses of water every day fulfills the daily requirement for most healthy adults.

Maintain a healthy weight. Lose weight if you are overweight by cutting down on portion sizes and reducing foods high in fat, not by skipping meals. A registered dietitian or your doctor can help you determine your ideal body weight.

Reduce foods high in fat. Fat should provide 25% to 35% or less of your total daily calories. Also, limit saturated fat to less than 7% of your total daily calories. Saturated fat raises cholesterol and increases your risk for heart disease. Saturated fat is found in fatty meats, whole milk, ice cream, and cheese. Limit cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams (mg) or less per day. Also try to limit your intake of trans fats, found in vegetable oils, many baked goods, and some margarines. Trans fat also raises cholesterol and increases your risk for heart disease.

Use sugar and salt in moderation. Too much sodium in the diet is linked to high blood pressure. Also, go easy on smoked, salt-cured, and charbroiled foods -- these foods contain high levels of nitrates, which have been linked to cancer.

Limit alcohol intake. Women should limit their consumption of alcohol to one or fewer drinks a day.


WebMD Medical Reference

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