One of the most important parts of a woman’s ability to maintain good health is proper diet and nutrition. Researchers continue to find growing evidence of the link between healthy eating and a variety of positive health outcomes which include:

• Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
• Cancer
• Osteoporosis

If you are a woman looking to improve your diet you should eat foods rich in fiber, folate, unsaturated fats and calcium. Choose fruits, vegetables, whole grains and reduce intake of sugar, salt, cholesterol, saturated fats and trans fats.

As you age, your nutritional needs may change and vary. Consult with your personal physician or other healthcare professional to ensure your diet is providing the proper nourishment required for good health.

How do fiber, fat, folate, antioxidants, calcium, Vitamin D, iron, protein, alcohol and caffeine actually affect a woman’s health?

Fiber: The many benefits of high fiber intake include:

1. Substantially reducing the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke;
2. Cereal fiber has been shown in particular to reduce the risk of heart attack;
3. Diets high in fiber protect against diabetes;
4. Diets high in soluble fiber found in vegetables, fruits and legumes can help diabetic individuals control their glucose (blood sugar level);
5. Lower cholesterol levels;
6. Improved bowel function;
7. Research also suggests that diets high in vegetable and fruit fiber may help prevent colon and rectal cancer.

Fat: It is important to reduce intake of foods high in certain types of fat and cholesterol to help decrease the risk of coronary heart disease. Of most importance is to reduce the saturated fats and trans fats rather than concentrating on reducing the total amount of “fat” intake. Avoid consuming too many low-fat foods that are high in carbohydrates. Too many carbohydrates can lower the so-called “good” cholesterol that protects against heart disease.

Folate: Is a type of B vitamin important to the production of red blood cells that can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and colon cancer. Folate supplements are recommended for women of child-bearing age usually in the form of multivitamins to help prevent a group of birth defects known as neural tube defects. These defects include spina bifida and anencephaly (failure of the brain to form).

Natural sources of folate include:

• Certain breakfast cereals
• Orange juice
• Peas
• Peanuts
• Beans
• Leafy green vegetables

Antioxidants: Certain fruits and vegetables, Vitamins A, C, E and beta carotene contain antioxidant properties. There are some studies that indicate antioxidants help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. The evidence to support these claims remains mixed.

Calcium: An adequate amount of daily calcium can help prevent osteoporosis. Osteoporosis particularly affects many women after menopause. It can lead to bone fractures. Calcium may also protect against colon cancer and may aid weight loss in obese women. If you are a woman who feels you need more calcium in your diet or you are just not sure how much is adequate for you, check with your physician about taking supplements.

Good sources of calcium include:

• Milk
• Yogurt
• Cheese
• Canned fish with soft bones such as sardines, anchovies and salmon
• Leafy green vegetables
• Calcium-fortified orange juice

Vitamin D: It is important to consume adequate amounts of Vitamin D to aid calcium absorption and bone formation. A lack of vitamin D can lead to softening of the bones.

Good sources of vitamin D include:

• Egg yolks
• Herring
• Sardines
• Tuna
• Salmon
• Fortified milk

Iron: A deficiency of iron can cause fatigue, decreased immunity and a type of anemia called iron-deficiency anemia. Iron is especially important to girls and women of childbearing age. Iron should be taken in moderation. Studies show high levels of iron can lead to heart disease in postmenopausal women.

Good sources of iron include:

• Liver
• Kidneys
• Red meat
• Poultry
• Eggs
• Peas
• Legumes
• Dried fruits
• Leafy vegetables

Protein: Women should get 10 to 35 percent of daily calories from protein to help prevent muscle tissue from breaking down and help repair tissue that has been damaged.

Good sources of protein include:

• Fish
• Poultry
• Eggs
• Milk
• Cheese
• Dried beans and peas
• Peanut butter
• Nuts
• Bread
• Cereal

Alcohol: Many experts agree the health risks of moderate consumption of alcohol outweigh the potential benefits of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease shown in some studies.

Pregnant and nursing women should not drink alcohol in any form as it can cause harm to their offspring.

The many adverse health consequences of alcohol consumption include:

• Increased risk of cancers of the breast, mouth, esophagus, throat, larynx and liver
• Alcohol consumed during pregnancy can cause birth defects including fetal alcohol syndrome
• Cirrhosis of the liver
• May increase the frequency and severity of hot flashes during menopause

Caffeine: Is a stimulant and diuretic found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate and some over-the-counter drugs. A reduction of caffeine is often recommended during pregnancy. It may affect the heart rate and blood pressure, contribute to dehydration and have other possible side effects.

Numerous health problems can be the result of poor nutrition as well as obesity, which causes additional health problems. By contrast, are women with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Women who are underweight may experience irregular menstrual cycles, a stopping of menstruation called amenorrhea, which can lead to dental problems and osteoporosis and a shortened lifespan.

Source: Science Daily Healthology

Disclaimer: *This article is not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any kind of a health problem. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Always consult with your health care provider about any kind of a health problem and especially before beginning any kind of an exercise routine.

This article is FREE to publish with the resource box. Article written 4-2007.

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