- Women should consume about three cups of dairy products, or milk-alternatives each day because dairy products are an important source of calcium. Low fat or no fat dairy products are the best choice. If you choose not to consume dairy products, alternative calcium sources include sardines, tofu, and calcium-fortified foods. One serving is equal to one cup of milk, one cup of yogurt, one and one-half ounces of cheese. Sources for milk and dairy products include milk, yogurt, cheese, and sour cream. These products can come from cows, goats, or sheep.
- Most women need about four to six ounces of meat, legumes or other protein sources per day. Low fat meats and other protein sources are needed to provide protein and a variety of other nutrients. It is important to realize that many meats are high in saturated fat, which we don't want, and other proteins like fish and sea food are high in omega-3 fatty acids that we do want. According to the USDA, one serving is equal to one-half ounce. Other sources consider two ounces to be one serving size. Sources for proteins include meats, poultry, fish, seafood, dry beans, nuts, and seeds.
- Women should eat five or six one-ounce servings of grains per day. Whole grains are an important source of fiber and a healthy diet, so least three of the servings should be from whole grains. Be sure to read package labels to make sure the product is made from whole grains. One serving is equal to one slice of bread, one cup of breakfast cereal, one-half cup of pasta, cooked rice, or cooked cereal. Sources for whole grains include brown rice, whole grain bread and pasta, buckwheat, oatmeal, wild rice, quinoa, amaranth, and spelt products.
- Women need five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Dark green and brightly colored fruits and vegetables contain many antioxidants and bioflavonoids in addition to vitamins, minerals, and fiber.One serving is equal to one-half cup for a starchy vegetable such as potatoes or corn, and two cups for a dark green low-starch vegetable like broccoli or leafy greens. One fruit serving is typically equal to one small to medium sized fruit or one-half cup berries.Sources for fruits and vegetables include dark green and brightly colored vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, peas, carrots, apples, oranges, peaches, bananas, etc. Calorie counts vary significantly, so keep track of calories.
- Women need to consume healthy fats every day. Fats are an important source of essential fatty acids, vitamin E. It is important to consume sufficient omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and flax, and to reduce consumption of saturated fat found in red meats, and trans fat or hydrogenated oils found in processed foods.One serving is equal to one teaspoon. Women need up to seven servings of healthy fats per day, which are already found in much of the food we eat. Sources for healthy fats include fish, flax, seeds, nuts, vegetable oils like olive oil, peanut oil, and safflower oil.