After hit 45, you're often finally able to find a little time to focus on you and are ready to start eating better. While the diet basics are pretty much the same at any age, a woman over the age of 45 is at a greater risk of heart disease, and as you approach menopause, a greater risk of osteoporosis, so your healthy diet plan should be focused on foods good for your heart and bones.
Calories and Weight Gain
When it comes to health, weight matters. As you get older you are more prone to weight gain because you have less muscle mass, which leads to a slower metabolism. Plus, when you hit menopause your falling estrogen levels, compounded with stress and poor sleep, also make you more prone to weight gain, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. To help keep the pounds at bay, watch your calorie intake. Although individual calorie needs vary, most women over the age of 45 can maintain a healthy weight consuming 1,600 to 2,200 calories a day.
Up the Whole Grains
Getting more whole grains in your diet might reduce your risk of heart disease and improve heart health. A 2008 study published in "Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease" found that people who eat 2.5 servings of whole grains a day have 21 percent fewer cardiovascular disease events -- such as a heart attack or stroke -- than those that consume less than two servings a week. The Harvard School of Public Health suggests that the fiber and antioxidants found in whole grains are responsible for its heart-protecting capabilities. Women over 45 need five to seven servings of grains a day, and at least half those servings should be whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, amaranth, quinoa and barley.
Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and vegetables are low in calories, filling and full of nutrients, making them excellent choices for weight control and heart health. Bananas and sweet potatoes are rich in potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. Women over 45 need 2 to 3 cups of vegetables and 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit each day.
You Still Need Milk
Milk is a good source of calcium and vitamin D, nutrients that support bone health. Estrogen protects bones by limiting bone breakdown. When your estrogen levels drop during menopause, your bones no longer have that protection, and your body breaks down more bone than it rebuilds, increasing your risk of osteoporosis. To promote bone health over 45, you should get three servings of low-fat or nonfat dairy per day like 1 cup of milk, nonfat yogurt or 1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese. Non-dairy sources of calcium include soy milk, tofu, canned sardines and fortified orange juice and cereals.
Varied and Lean Protein
Lean sources of protein, such as lean red meat, poultry, seafood and beans, are heart healthy due to their low saturated fat content, and are also a good source of zinc, iron, magnesium and the B vitamins. Try to include 8-ounces of salmon or other fatty fish each week to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Soy foods, such as soybeans and tofu, are not only a good source of protein, but also contain phytoestrogens -- which are plant hormones that mimic estrogen in your body -- that might help you combat menopausal symptoms, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
- Helpguide.org: Diet & Nutrition for Women
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: My Food Plan: 1,600 Calories
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: My Food Plan: 2,200 Calories
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Menopause and Weight
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Counts As a Cup in the Dairy Group?
- National Osteoporosis Foundation: Hormones and Healthy Bones
- American Heart Association: Menopause and Heart Disease
- Harvard School of Public Health: Health Gains from Whole Grains
- Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease: Whole Grain Intake and Cardiovascular Disease: Meta-Analysis