How much do you know about carbs, proteins, and fats? #2 Nutrition in menopause series
What to eat in menopause?
Some of us can get really confused about the three building blocks of our food – carbs, proteins, and fats. Scientists, doctors, and nutritionists changed their minds about what we should be eating, and in what proportion a few times in the past decade.
First, the idea that fat is bad for you, eat margarine.
No! Margarine is the worst thing ever invented, so you should go back to butter and lard.
Then there was a debate on whether eggs were good for you or not. The number of eggs “allowed” during a week has changed so often that nobody knows what the “healthy” number is anymore.
There is also an ongoing debate about carbs in the scientific community as we speak.
For all of these questions, there are no certain answers yet.
Still, there is rising evidence that natural fats are good, sugar is very bad, and processed foods are terrible for your health.
So, let’s break it all down.
What to eat in menopause to stay healthy?
There are 3 types of carbs:
Starchy foods include things like:
- Rice and grains
The Cleveland Clinic says that there are 4 starchy foods we would be smart to avoid:
- White bread and other refined flour products
- White rice
- Skinless white potatoes
It leaves us with whole grain foods and other healthier starchy vegetables.
Women in menopause are prone to weight gain and other health risks. Moderation in carbs and a serious reduction of sugar is something that all nutritional experts advise.
Fiber is found in many fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. These foods are also rich in vitamins and other micronutrients vital for the human body.
Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health says that consuming between 22 to 34 grams of fiber every day, you will:
- Help your gut health,
- Protect yourself from type 2 diabetes,
- Protect from heart disease,
- Protect from some types of cancer
Another categorization of carbs is: Simple and complex.
Sugar and starch are simple carbs that the body can digest and absorb very quickly, causing a sugar high after which your energy drops quickly. These simple carbs are not considered very healthy; quite the contrary.
Simple carbs are found in:
- Pastries and desserts
- Sweetened beverages, such as lemonade or iced tea
- Energy drinks
- Ice cream
The complex carbs are much better at maintaining a more consistent level of energy. This is why they are considered healthier as they are digested much more slowly. Therefore, they are a more stable source of energy. Complex carbs are considered nutrient-dense, but they are not all equally healthy and should be eaten in moderation.
Complex carbs are present in:
- Whole wheat bread, pasta, and flour
- Brown and wild rice
- Legumes, such as black beans, chickpeas, lentils, and others
Protein is an essential micronutrient for your body’s healthy. Proteins are part of every cell and are essential to build and repair muscle, tissue, skin, nails, and hair. Protein also helps your body in creating hormones and enzymes.
Foods containing protein:
“Choose fish, poultry, beans, and nuts; limit red meat and cheese; avoid bacon, cold cuts, and other processed meats.” Says the Harvard School of Public Health
Muscle mass and bone strength decrease in menopause. Women going through this phase, especially women over 50, should eat 0.45–0.55 grams of protein per pound (1–1.2 grams per kg) of body weight daily — or 20–25 grams of high-quality protein per meal.
What to eat in menopause?
Types of fats are:
1. Unsaturated fats
There are two types of “good” unsaturated fats:
a. Monounsaturated fats are found in high concentrations in:
- Olive oil
- Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans
- Seeds such as pumpkin and sesame seeds
b. Polyunsaturated fats are found in high concentrations in
- Flax seeds
- Sunflower seeds
what to eat in menopause
2. Saturated fats
Saturated fats are not the best source of fat that your body needs, but it is also not the worst. Your brain is almost 60% comprised of fat.
In the US, for example, the biggest sources of saturated fat in the diet are:
- Pizza and cheese
- Whole and reduced-fat milk, butter, and dairy desserts
- Meat products (sausage, bacon, beef, hamburgers)
- Cookies and other grain-based desserts
- A variety of mixed fast food dishes
3. Trans Fats
These fats are man-made through numerous chemical processes that are very harmful to the human body. These fats are also called partially hydrogenated oils.
They have been proven to be detrimental to your health, so they are forbidden in the food industry but still can be found in:
- Crackers, cookies, cakes, frozen pies, and other baked goods
- Snack foods (such as microwave popcorn)
- Frozen pizza
- Vegetable shortenings and some stick margarine
- Coffee creamer
- Refrigerated dough products (such as biscuits and cinnamon rolls)
- Ready-to-use frostings
It’s a very good thing to check food labels of these and other products.
Fats received a very bad rap in the fifties which caused nutritionists to recommend less fat and more carbohydrates in diets. What we have seen in the last few decades since is an increase in obesity and Type II diabetes, which is a major source of concern. Nutritionists and scientists are now reconsidering their recommendations as newer research is being conducted.
Olive oil is everyone’s recommendation nowadays. This is the one thing doctors and nutritionists agree on.
Good fats, such as Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon, tuna, sardines (and other cold-water fish), nuts such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts, may be very beneficial for women going through menopause. In studies done all over the world, Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease the frequency and severity of hot flashes and the severity of night sweats.