Everybody, whether men or women needs to enjoy healthy foods because what we eat, affects our health in the present and later life.
However, we need to acknowledge that the nutritional requirement of a woman is different from a man.
In addition, at various stages of a woman’s life, there is a change in special nutrient needs.
Wise food choices not only manage but also prevents many health issues that mainly affect females.
What Is A Healthy Diet For Women
A healthy and a balanced diet should include foods from all food groups including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, low-fat dairy and lean protein in correct amount. Healthy eating for women means getting required nutrients primarily from what you eat and drink rather than depending on the supplement. It also means avoiding foods high in salt, Trans fat, saturated fat and sugar.
(A woman might need minerals or vitamin supplements at certain stages of their life. Take the supplement only after consulting your GP or when suggested by your doctor).
Healthy Diet for Women
It is effortless for me to advise my readers to eat healthily, but I agree there are several factors such as your job, household and other responsibilities of daily life that affect your eating habits. In addition, what we eat or drink greatly depends on the food available in our community, culture and budget.
Instead of focusing on things that are not under your control, better focus on choices, we can make and bring small changes in your everyday eating habit.
Planning Healthy Diet for women
A healthy diet for women, in general, should include the following:
- 3 ounces whole grains. This includes whole-grain bread, whole-grain porridge, whole grain pasta, whole grain cereals, oats and brown rice.
- Five or five and a half ounces of protein. Protein-rich food sources include pulses, lentils beans, lean meat, nuts, seeds, egg, poultry and seafood. Better, incorporate more plant-based protein food sources such as lentils, tofu or beans in your diet.
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy products such as milk cheese or yoghurt. Those who are lactose intolerance may go for calcium-fortified plant-based alternatives.
- At least two cups of fruit. Fresh fruits are preferred, but you may also have canned or frozen fruits without added sugar or salt.
- Two or two and a half cups of vegetables. Add a variety of fresh and colourful vegetables to your diet.
Special Nutrient Needs
- Foods rich in iron – Women of reproductive age bleeds every month until she reaches menopause. Thus, iron is an essential nutrient to keep their energy levels high and for good health. Foods rich in iron includes green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, lentils, beans, raisins, red meat, turkey, chicken, pork and fish. In addition, fortified ready to eat cereals are also available. For easy absorption of plant-based iron-rich foods, it is advised to eat them along with vitamin C rich foods. The daily requirement of iron for females age 14-18 years is 15 mg. For adult women of reproductive age recommended e daily amount of iron is is 18 mg/day. Female above 50 years of age require iron 8 mg/day.
- Calcium requirement– Calcium is needed for healthy teeth and bones. Foods rich in calcium are eggs, sardines, tofu and dairy products such as milk cheese yoghurt. Recommended daily allowance of calcium for an adult woman (19-50 years) is 1,000 mg/day. Recommended daily allowance of calcium for women above 50 years of age is 1,2000 mg/day. Your body cannot take calcium more than 500 mg at a time so better include good sources of calcium in your three time meal. Calcium-fortified foods and plant-based milk alternatives such as cereals and juices are also available.
- Vitamin D – Our body needs an adequate amount of vitamin D for calcium absorption, proper metabolism and to carry out the other vital functions of the body. Apart from exposure to sunlight, food sources good in vitamin D are egg, salmon and fortified foods and beverages such as yoghurt and juices. Aim for at least 600 International Unit of vitamin D daily.
- Magnesium intake – magnesium increases calcium absorption. Our body cannot utilise calcium without magnesium. Recommended daily allowance of magnesium is 320-400 mg/day. Sources rich in magnesium green are green leafy vegetable, green beans, cucumber celery, broken and seeds.
- Foods rich in Folic acid– Women of child bearing age needs to eat enough Folic acid to decrease the risk of congenital disabilities. Foods that naturally contain Folic acid are green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, beans and peas. In addition, breakfast cereals, rice and bread fortified with Folic acid are also available. This is why to help you meet your daily requirement of Folic acid a non-pregnant woman is advised to eat a variety of foods. However, pregnant females and breastfeeding mothers require more Folic acid; this is why their physician or dietitian may recommend you supplements.
What Foods to Avoid
Apart from knowing what to eat, women should also know what foods and beverages she should limit to stay healthy.
- Avoid foods high in sugar and unsaturated fat.
- Limit the intake of sweetened foods and beverages such as cookies pastries, candy soft drink etc.
- If you are of legal age and choose to drink, limit the intake of alcohol to 1 drink per day that is 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer and 1.5 liquor.
A woman is the foundation of a family and if she eats healthy, everybody else in the household eats healthy. Incorporate healthy diet for women discussed in this article and stay healthy always.