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A woman’s guide to healthy eating


Amy works as a dietitian for Albert Lea Hy-Vee where her role is to promote health and wellness. She does this by teaching classes, holding seminars and giving presentations, tours and food demonstrations. Amy can be reached at

THINK OF when discussing women’s health is calcium. although this is definitely a valid concern, there are many issues that fall under the women’s health umbrella. luckily, when we look at foods that are


important for disease prevention, there’s a lot of overlap. for example, for cancer pre- vention, weight control or a healthy heart, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is the key. a low-fat diet is recommended too, with plenty of whole grains and lean pro- teins. What are the major health concerns for

women? Well, just as for men, heart dis- ease is the nation’s number one killer of women. breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Osteoporosis is obvi- ously a concern too — one in two women over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime, according to the national Osteoporosis foundation. OK, enough of the bad stuff. let’s focus

on the positive and look at what women can do to live longer, happier lives. We can start by eating right.

Fruits and Veggies

fruits and veggies are nutrient-dense

meaning they have lots of good-for-you nutrients packed into very few calo- ries. One of my favorite things to tell peo- ple about fruits and veggies is to “eat a rainbow.” if you eat a variety of colors, you’ll receive a variety of nutrients. Generally, the deeper the color, the more nutrition. another tip is to use the reverse of “out of sight, out of mind.” Keep fruits and vegetables where you can see them. if you see them more, you’ll eat them more. shoot for a minimum of 5 servings a day of fruits and veggies combined.

Whole Grains

dietary guidelines recommend that at

least half of your grain intake should be whole grains. i challenge customers to tilt that ratio even further because there are

so many wonderful tasting products out there. it’s easier than ever to choose whole grains which are full of fiber, contain large amounts of vitamins e and b, and are good sources of iron, zinc, selenium and magne- sium. a whole grain can come from wheat, rice, oat or corn. there are also other grains that aren’t so popular, such as ama- ranth, spelt, millet or quinoa.

Lean Protein

among recommendations for a healthy

heart and a lower cancer risk is to lower your consumption of red meats — which are a good source of fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. downsizing meat portions is a great step. in addition, gradually work in more lean protein, from fish and chicken but more importantly — beans! beans are an excellent source of protein, are low in fat, and they have something the other foods in this category do not have — fiber!

Amy’s Top Disease-Fighting Super Foods

beans berries cruciferous vegetables dark green, leafy vegetables flaxseed citrus fruits walnuts whole grains tomatoes fatty fish, like salmon


Osteoporosis is often called the “silent

disease” because bone loss occurs without symptoms. following their mid-30s, women begin to lose bone mass. mass deteriorates faster after menopause. it’s important to make sure you are getting calcium and vita- min d. Women ages 19 to 50 need 1000 mg of calcium per day and 400- 800 iu of vitamin d per day. the best source of cal- cium is dairy, such as milk, yogurt or cot- tage cheese — choose fat-free varieties if

22 ♦ Southern Minnesota Magazine ♦ Venus 2010

possible. you can also find calcium in broc- coli, dark green veggies and fortified juice, cereal and soy milk. vitamin d is manufac- tured in your skin from the sunlight and the main food source is fortified milk. cold saltwater fish — like salmon, halibut, her- ring, tuna, oysters and shrimp — is also a good source and some cereals are vitamin d-fortified as well.

Maintain a good weight

there’s a clear link between obesity and

breast cancer and obesity and heart dis- ease. We all know this, but it’s a matter of taking action. most folks seem to be aware of the foods they should be eating, but they are not following through. it is not easy to lose weight. the key is to recognize that this is a lifelong journey. Keeping the focus on health is important, along with small gradual changes that you can stick with!

Physical Activity

regular exercise can help you maintain a

healthy weight and is among recommenda- tions for prevention of many diseases, including osteoporosis. again, it is all a mat- ter of doing it. find something you like and start small. anything is better than nothing. Just move more.


When writing an article on women’s

health, i must include a note about bal- ance. in teaching people to lose weight in my begin program, i’ve found that many women are performing a balancing act. i often see an “all or nothing” mental- ity. having one high fat/calorie meal or skip- ping exercising can be enough for us to say, “Oh well. i blew it today and might as well pig out now.” none of the recommenda- tions above are all or nothing and every lit- tle positive change helps. it is about balance, making small changes and accepting set- backs. change is hard and takes time, but each and every small positive adjustment you make in your diet and lifestyle counts — and leads to a healthier, happier you!

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