Are there any nutritional areas in which women need to pay special attention?

Women tend to juggle many roles, whether it includes being a mother, wife, student, caregiver, co-worker, grandmother, friend or volunteer. And as a result a women’s own health may end up on the backburner from a lack of time and energy.

May is Women’s Health Month and there’s no better time to reprioritize your values and put your health and well-being first. By caring for yourself, you can then, in turn, be a better person for those around you. Because nutritional needs change throughout your lifetime, here are tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to ensure you maintain optimal health regardless of age.

In your 20s – At this stage, adequate calcium intake is especially important for building strong bones. Incorporate calcium-rich foods like yogurt, milk, and cheese as well as dark, leafy greens into your meal plan. In case of nutritional shortfalls, talk to your doctor about taking a daily multivitamin with minerals. When choosing a multivitamin, select one that provides 100% or less of the Daily Value of vitamins and minerals.

In your 30s – Most women begin to think about pregnancy during this time, which is why nutrients such as folic acid are so important. It’s recommended that all women supplement with 400 micrograms of folic acid each day, along with 400 micrograms of folate obtained through food sources. Folic acid has been shown to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and birth defects of the brain and spine.

In your 40s – Forties are the new thirties, so what better time to think about maintaining that youthful glow? Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables can help you do that. For example, pasta sauce made with fresh tomatoes and olive oil is one of the best ways to benefit from the antioxidant lycopene. Mangos are another great source of antioxidants.  One cup provides the antioxidant beta-carotene, as well as 35% and 100% of the daily values for Vitamins A and C, respectively.

In your 50s – As metabolism begins to slow down, watching calorie intake to prevent weight gain is a must. Focus on getting calories from nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Keep liquid calories in check with beverage options such as water or calorie-free flavored seltzers.

In your 60s and beyond – Maintaining muscle mass becomes a priority during this time, since muscle is lost as we age. To minimize losses that might occur, eat an average of 5 to 6 ounces of protein-rich foods each day like chicken, turkey, seafood, beans, nuts and seeds.

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Featured recipe: Eggs Benedict with Homemade Hollandaise Sauce
Ingredients

Hollandaise Sauce:

3 egg yolks

1/4 C of water

2 tbs of fresh lemon juice

1/2 C firm, cold butter, cut into 8 pieces

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp sweet paprika

Dash of pepper

Eggs Benedict

8 eggs, cold

4 English muffins, split & toasted

8 slices Canadian-style bacon, warmed

3/4 C prepared Hollandaise Sauce

Directions

1. Prepare Hollandaise Sauce by whisking egg yolks, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan until blended. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture bubbles at the edges.

2. Stir in butter, one piece at a time, until butter is melted and sauce is thickended.

3. Immediately remove from heat and stir in salt, paprika and pepper.

4. Meanwhile, heat 2 to 3 inches of water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to keep liquid simmering gently.

5. Break eggs, one at a time, into custard cup or saucer. Holding dish close to the surface, slip each egg into the water.

6. Cook eggs until whites are completely set and yolks begin to thicken but are not hard, about 3-5 minutes. Do not stir the water while eggs are cooking. Lift eggs from water with a slotted spoon and drain well.

7. Top each English muffin half with 1 bacon slice, 1 egg, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of Hollandaise Sauce. Serve immediately. Recipe courtesy of American Egg Board. 

Andrea Luttrell is a registered dietitian nutritionist for the Living Well Eating Smart program at Big Y Foods. She can be reached at livingwell@bigy.com or write Living Well, 2145 Roosevelt Ave, PO Box 7840, Springfield MA 01102.