Women should aim to include fruits and vegetables in their diets every day.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
WHEELING - As women age, their metabolism begins to slow down, making counting calories and serving sizes even more important.
"Women have slower metabolisms than males, making every calorie count," said Stephanie Fogle, registered dietitian at Wheeling Hospital. "You always hear that it's more difficult for women to lose weight and it's more difficult for them to increase their metabolisms."
To help combat the slow metabolism, women should aim to exercise at least 2.5 hours a week. They also should choose foods that are low in fat and have little to no trans fats, which are "very damaging to the heart."
"Overeating and excessive eating are also damaging to the heart. So it's not just about what we eat but how much we're eating," Fogle said.
When it comes to milk, women should choose low fat, which means skim or 1 percent milk. Low-fat cheeses and yogurts also are recommended.
Switching from white bread to whole grain bread also is a heart-healthy choice and provides more fiber to one's diet. Also available are whole grain pastas and rice.
"Women should also choose a good breakfast cereal ... with 5-7 grams of fiber in a serving," Fogle said, adding a very high fiber cereal would contain 9 or more grams.
Higher fiber cereals include bran cereals and oatmeal. Many sugary cereals only offer 1-2 grams of fiber per serving. People should check the nutrition information on the back of the box to discover the fiber grams provided. Everyone should aim to eat 20-30 grams of fiber per day. Higher fiber cereals can help excrete cholesterol from one's body.
"It also keeps your bowels moving regularly," she noted.
"If you're eating fiber, make sure you drink a lot of water."
Fogle recommends everyone drink six to eight cups of water per day. Those who don't like plain water should choose drinks without a lot of sugar or sugar-free flavored water.
For women who drink alcohol, it is recommended that they consume no more than one serving per day. Too much alcohol is hard on the heart and contains empty calories.
While not everyone enjoys fish, Fogle recommends women eat it twice a week - but it should be baked rather than fried. Fish that provide a good source of heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids include salmon, trout, herring and mackerel. Though all oils should be used in moderation, some also are a good source of omega 3 - canola, olive and walnut.
And, women should aim to include fruits and vegetables in their diets every day, she said.