Posted by USN Ireland on November 6, 2015
We all know that a balanced diet is essential to your general health and well being; however this is quite different for men and women. Any woman sticking to the following guidelines won’t stray far from achieving this:
- Ensure the range of foods you eat is varied
- Try to keep within a healthy weight range
- Adhere to a diet that is low in fat, saturated fat & cholesterol with plenty of fruits, vegetables & grains.
- Keep a strict eye on salt and sugar intake.
- The occasional glass of wine is fine, the whole bottle isn’t!
Vitamins and Minerals
A range of vitamins and minerals are of course important in a healthy diet but calcium and iron should be focused on by women in particular.
Both women and men need enough calcium to build bone mass during their early years of life; low calcium intake appears to be one important factor in the development of osteoporosis which women have a greater risk of developing. Osteoporosis is a condition in which progressive loss of bone mass occurs with aging, causing increased susceptibility to fracture. If a woman has a high level of bone mass when her skeleton matures, this may modify her risk of developing osteoporosis; therefore women should increase their calcium intake, especially during adolescence and early adulthood.
Low-fat dairy items like low-fat cheese, yoghurts and skimmed milk will all increase your calcium intake while some other good sources of calcium include salmon, broccoli, tofu, seeds and nuts.
Women are in greater need of iron than men because they lose it each month during menstruation. Without enough iron, anaemia can develop and cause symptoms including fatigue and headaches. After menopause, body iron stores generally rise so women over 50 who suffer from iron deficiency should consult their doctor for other causes.
Good sources of iron include red meat, fish and poultry. These contain an iron which is easily absorbed in the intestine know as heme iron. Non-heme iron – usually found in leafy green vegetables and wholegrain products – doesn’t have the same rate of absorption, but a diet that contains vitamin c can increase iron uptake in the body.
Women tend to have higher levels than men of a desirable type of cholesterol called HDLs (high-density lipoproteins) until menopause. However, it’s still important for women to have a limited intake of saturated fat and cholesterol. Cholesterol is found in food from animal sources, especially egg yolks, dairy products, meat, poultry and shellfish.
High fat diets have been linked to certain cancers, namely breast and colorectal cancer. However, fat should not be eliminated from your diet entirely. The benefits of fats include the provision of energy and help in vitamin-absorption, but your intake of fats – especially saturated fat – should be limited. Food with high levels of saturated fat include meats and other animal products, including butter, cream and cheese. Additionally, coconut oil and palm kernel oil is very high in saturated fat. Conversely, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats may help reduce blood cholesterol levels. Polyunsaturated fat is found in plant-based oils, like sunflower, corn and safflower oil, while monounsaturated fats are contained in olive and canola oil.
A diet that is high in fibre may be related to lower rates of colon cancer, as it helps move waste from the colon more quickly. Fibre also promotes a full-feeling, meaning that you are far less likely to over eat. If you’re planning to improve your fibre intake, start slowly so your body has time to adjust. Adding too much fibre too quickly may lead to abdominal discomfort, flatulence and diarrhoea. Fibre-rich foods include vegetables, peas, beans, oats, wholegrain products and fruit.