Best Diet for Women

This article explains what a healthy diet is and what it should include. It also looks at the different foods that are suitable for women and the scientific evidence behind them.

Best Diet for Women

What is a Healthful Diet?

The Nutrition Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 recommend that people eat healthy, nutritious foods that are not high in calories, such as vegetables and whole fruits.

Healthy eating patterns include dense forms of nutrients:

  • A variety of vegetables in different colors
  • Beans, such as beans and peas
  • Fruit (mostly whole fruit)
  • Protein foods, such as lean meat and poultry, fish and seafood, soy products, and nuts and seeds
  • Cereals (of which at least half is whole grains)
  • Non-sweet dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Healthy fats, such as olive oil, olive, avocado, and oily fish

These guidelines also suggest that people limit or avoid certain foods, such as:

  • Limit calories with extra sugar to 10% of total daily calories. Processed foods, sweet treats, and soft drinks all contain extra sugar.
  • Limit saturated fats to less than 10% of total daily calories. Saturated fat foods include butter, cheese and meat that are not lean.
  • Avoid trans fats. Processed foods such as sweet, frozen pizza, and coffee creamers may contain trans fats.
  • Limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg (mg) daily (for adults).
  • Limit alcohol to more than one drink per day for women and more than two drinks per day for men.

Some foods can help people choose healthier foods. In addition, certain diets can support health conditions or reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

All of the following foods have a plant-based focus and include fish. The following sections will discuss each diet and what the evidence says about supporting women’s health.

The Mediterranean Diet

According to some experts, Mediterranean food is beneficial for weight loss, heart health and prevention of diabetes. Research also shows that diet can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

According to a 2015 study, if women are overweight or obese, they may have more health problems during menopause and post-menopause.

Studies show that Spanish women who followed a Mediterranean diet lost weight and that diet during menopause can improve their quality of life.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes vegetables and fruits, olive oil, nuts and beans.

Oily fish is an important part of the diet, as are unsalted grains. Also, some people drink alcohol as part of their diet.

Meat and milk are among the foods that people should limit when following the Mediterranean diet. People should also avoid processed foods and eat as naturally as possible.

The DASH Diet

According to several studies, dietary approaches (DASH) diet to prevent high blood pressure can lower blood pressure and help people lose weight. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can increase in women after menopause.

A 2017 study indicates that women 70 years of age and older maintain better cognitive function when following a long-term DASH diet.

A 2017 cocaine review found that a DASH dose could also reduce the incidence of cesarean section in pregnant women with diabetes.

Women aged 19-50 who are moderately active need 2,000-2,200 calories per day. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, based on a 2,000-calorie per day diet, the DASH diet has the following goals for daily and weekly servings of food groups:

  • Serve 6-8 grains daily
    • One serving is a slice of bread or half a cup of cooked rice.
  • A maximum of 6 servings of lean meat or poultry, eggs and fish daily
    • One serving is 1 ounce of cooked meat, fish, or poultry or an egg.
  • 4-5 servings of vegetables daily
    • One serving is a cup of leafy vegetables or half a cup of raw or cooked vegetables.
  • 4-5 servings of fruit daily
    • A serving is a medium piece of fruit or half a cup of frozen or canned fruit.
  • 2-3 servings of low fat or fat free dairy products daily
    • One serving is a cup of milk or 1.5 ounces of cheese.
  • 2-3 servings of fat and oil daily
    • One serving of margarine or vegetable oil is one teaspoon.
  • 4-5 weekly servings of nuts, seeds, beans, and peas
    • One serving is one-third of a cup of nuts or half a cup of cooked beans or peas.
  • 2,300 mg of sodium daily (or 1,500 mg to further lower blood pressure)
  • Five or less sweets a week.

Women want to meet their calorie needs and can decide whether or not they want to lose weight. They can then adjust the number of servings accordingly.

The Flexitarian Diet

Flexible diet is a semi-vegetarian diet, in which one occasionally eats meat or fish.

According to a 2016 survey, flexible diets are more popular among women than men. Reviews show that the benefits of diet are:

  • body weight
  • Blood pressure
  • Risk of diabetes
  • Inflammatory bowel conditions

People who follow a flexible diet base their diet on plant foods but occasionally include animal foods, such as eggs, meat or fish.

Anyone who eats a plant-based diet should make sure they get the nutrients they need, such as vitamin B12. They may need to take supplements for this purpose.

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