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Whether it happens abruptly or takes a few years, menopause is a transition through which all women pass. For some, it is relatively non–symptomatic, for others, there may be severe symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats and mood wings. Nutrition can help make the transition smoother and it plays a critical role in maintaining good long–term health after menopause. Here is some helpful dietary advice to help women stay healthier during menopause and throughout the rest of their lives.

1. Try soy, a food source rich in phyto-estrogens, or plant estrogen
Immediate benefits
Reduced night sweats, hot flashes and mood swings.
Long–term benefits
Lower blood cholesterol, to protect against heart disease, and increased bone mineral density, which can protect against osteoporosis.
How much?
About 90 milligrams of is flavones daily. Good sources are tofu (40 milligrams in 3–4 ounces), soy milk (30 milligrams a serving), and soy burgers and crumbles, which have varying amounts.

2. Get more calcium, to reduce the risk of weakened, easily fractured bones.
Immediate benefits
Stronger bones
Long–term benefits. Less likelihood of hip fracture after menopause.
How much?
1,000 milligrams a day for menopausal women under 65 who are on HRT, 1,500 milligrams a day for menopausal women under 65 who are not on HRT, 1,500 milligrams a day for all women over 65

3. Get more folate.
Immediate benefit
Lower levels of homocysteines, which increases heart disease risk.
Long–term benefit. Lower risk of heart disease after menopause.
How much?
400 micrograms of B vitamin folate a day.

4. Control your weight.
Immediate benefit
Reduced risk of heart disease
Long–term benefit
Less chance of post–menopausal heart trouble.

How?
Eat a low–fat, heart–healthy diet with less than 30 per cent total fat in it.

5. Choose foods rich in boron and in fiber.
Immediate benefit
Boron helps the body retain estrogen during menopause.
Long–term benefit
Fiber helps lower cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease.
How much?
20–30 grams of fiber a day, frequent servings of boron–rich apples, beans, cabbage, figs, plums, prunes, strawberries, tomatoes.

6. Exercise.
Immediate benefit
Less loss of muscle mass and less lowering of metabolic rate.
Long–term benefit
Lowered risk of post–menopausal heart disease and osteoporosis.
How much?
Long walks three times a day, plus strength training.

7. Eat a healthy diet. About Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)HRT can significantly reduce some of the negative effects of the hormonal changes that characterize the menopausal and post–menopausal stages of a woman’s life. However, it is not for everyone. Generally, if you are at high risk for heart disease and osteoporosis, you should consider taking HRT, if you are at high risk for breast cancer, you should consider not taking it. Talk about your options with your doctor before you decide.