“This is one of the really big issues I see for women — it is so much entwined with psychology, self-esteem, and societal pressure, and in many ways outside of women’s control, “says Dr. Hallberg. “They succumb to ways they think they need to be, rather than what is healthy for them. If you see victory as only a number on a scale, you are going to sabotage yourself.”
Samantha is not alone. Many women find in the years leading up to and after their final menstrual period that along with other symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats and sleep problems, their abdomens thicken and their weight increases. Some 40 million women in the US, 13 million in the UK, and many more millions around the world are estimated to be going through menopause, which usually occurs between age 49 and 52.
Consuming three tablespoons of EVOO isn’t enough to start shedding the kilos, Flynn says, explaining that the weight-loss effect kicks in when it’s combined with a healthy Mediterranean-style diet. This is rich in vegetables, fruit, legumes and whole grains, moderate in dairy and low in meat (about three serves of white meat or fish a week for women, and red meat only once or twice a month).
One interesting finding of this eating plan is that it dispels the myth that people with or at risk for heart disease must eat a low fat diet. Although it does matter which types of fats are chosen, the percentage of calories from fat is less of an issue. The PREDIMED study, a primary prevention trial including thousands of people with diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease found that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or nuts and without any fat and calorie restrictions reduced the rates of death from stroke by roughly 30%. [6] Most dietary fats were healthy fats, such as those from fatty fish, olive oil, and nuts, but total fat intake was generous at 39-42% of total daily calories, much higher than the 20-35% fat guideline as stated by the Institute of Medicine. [7]  Risk of type 2 diabetes was also reduced in the PREDIMED trial. [8]
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Unsaturated fatty acids, whether monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, can lower your levels of "bad" cholesterol (which decreases your risk of heart disease) if you eat them instead of saturated fatty acids, Hughes says. Saturated fat -- found mostly in animal products and in palm and coconut oils -- is the main dietary cause of high blood cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association.
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