Heart disease risk is likely to rise after menopause, so you should try to eat at least two servings of fish per week (preferably those with healthy fats like salmon or trout). Preliminary research suggests that fish oil may also help prevent breast cancer. Aim for two servings of fish a week—and talk to your doctor about whether or not you should try a supplement.
If you’re overweight you can minimize menopausal symptoms and reduce the long-term risks of declining hormones by losing weight. Slimming down not only reduces the risks of heart disease and breast cancer, both of which go up after menopause.
Bone up on calcium
Your calcium needs go up after age 50, from 1,000 milligrams per day to 1,200 mg. If you have a cup of low-fat milk, one latte, and one 8-ounce yogurt, you’re getting around 1,100 mg calcium. This means you need to take only an additional 100 mg of supplements a day—less than one caplet’s worth—to make up the difference.
If you’re eating dairy, choose low-fat products. These have roughly the same amount of calcium as their full-fat counterparts, but with fewer calories.
Cut the amount of salt and processed carbohydrates in your diet, as they can make you retain water. But don’t skimp on whole grains, which are rich in heart-healthy fiber, as well as fruits and vegetables.
Rethink that drink
Red wine gets a lot of press for its impact on heart health, but for menopausal women the drawbacks of alcohol might outweigh the benefits. If you enjoy a glass of Pinot, try watering it down with seltzer to make a spritzer (you’ll cut calories too). Also keep in mind that red wine and other drinks may bring on hot flashes as a result of the increase in blood-vessel dilation caused by alcohol.
Say yes to soy
Soy contains plant estrogens, so many women think it can increase their breast cancer risk. However, there is little data to support this. The misconception likely comes from studies of high-dose soy supplements, which may stimulate the growth of estrogen-sensitive tumors. Soy foods like tofu, soy nuts, and soy milk may offer relief from mild hot flashes and are not thought to increase breast cancer risk.
Try iced herbal tea
A warm cup of joe might be as much a part of your a.m. routine as brushing your teeth. Still, starting your day with a piping-hot drink may not be the best idea during menopause. Cover your bases by swapping your morning cup with something cool and decaffeinated—like a Tazo Shaken Iced Passion Tea at Starbucks or a decaf iced coffee.
Find a diet that fits
Any balanced diet that cuts calories—and that you can stick with in the long run—will do the job.