Menopause: Managing Symptoms through Diet (cont.)

Despite those benefits, most Americans eat beans only in the occasional chili or at a Mexican restaurant. Here are some ways to add beans to your diet and love them:

Sprinkle beans in your green salads and pasta salads. Add beans to soups, stews or chili that you make. Buy canned bean soups and vegetarian chili for a quick dish at home. Order bean soups or cassoulets in restaurants. Make a quick 3-bean salad by tossing a light dressing with three different types of canned beans. Make a delicious bean dip for parties. Next: The value of omega-3 fatty acids in relieving menopause symptoms.

Food Step 4: Eat More of the Right Fats

Yes, it is important to avoid eating a diet that is high in fat, especially saturated fat. High-fat foods are usually high in calories and low in nutrients, exactly the opposite of what a woman in or past menopause needs. But it's even more important to get the right fats in your diet -- fats that may protect against heart disease and cancer.

Research indicates the right fats are omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, olive oil and canola oil.

The wrong fats are saturated fats and trans fatty acids found in foods like packaged cookies, chips, and crackers.

Here are ways to build good fats into your meals, without sacrificing flavor:

Switch to olive oil and canola oil. Eat more fish. Eat less animal fat by choosing leaner meats and lower-fat dairy products. Limit foods that contain hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils. Buy packaged products less often because most still used hydrogenated omega-6 oils. Avoid stick margarine. Look for tub margarine that lists liquid canola oil or olive oil as the first ingredient.

Food Step 5: Choose Your Beverages Wisely

What you choose to quench your thirst can either rob your body of important nutrients or add them. Most people believe we should drink eight glasses of water a day, but few of us do. Water helps keeps our kidneys flushed.

On the other hand caffeine is a diuretic, which means it forces our kidneys to get rid of more water than they should. This can encourage dehydration. Caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated beverages such as soft drinks also don't do your bones any favors. Some lower the amount of calcium your body takes in from food, and others increase the amount of calcium your body loses through the kidneys.

Try drinking a glass of juice each day instead. Most citrus fruits, in general, contain more than a hundred phytochemicals. What happens to these when an orange or grapefruit is "juiced?" Many of them remain, especially if you buy juice with pulp.

Here are a few fun juices to stock in your fridge:

Orange juice. Calcium-fortified orange or orange-tangerine juice gives you a nice dose of calcium along with vitamin C and folic acid. Carrot juice. It takes getting used to, but carrot juice can be refreshing, not to mention very nutritious. Carrots give us at least three important phytochemicals: phenolic acids, terpenes and carotenoids (including beta carotene). Purple grape juice. There are some powerful antioxidants to be found in these purple gems. In fact, the same beneficial antioxidants that are in red wine are also found in nonalcoholic grape juice. Next: Calcium and small portions hit the mark with menopause symptoms.

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