Foods Designed for Women: Healthy Snacks or a Marketing Ploy?
With dozens of mouth-watering, nutrient-packed treats available, it seems that all of your vitamin and mineral needs can be met with a tasty snack. Women-specific functional foods are generally lower in calories, catering to calorie-conscious women. These products do provide nutrients that some women may be lacking. But can you get too much of a good thing?
Women-specific functional foods pack a hefty dose of calcium, which is great for women who need more calcium. But, chronic calcium intakes over 2,000-2,500 mg per day might cause adverse effects, including
Folic Acid (Folate)
If all women consumed the recommended 400 micrograms (mcg) of the B vitamin
All enriched grains (white flour, pasta, bread, and rice) in the United States are fortified with folic acid. But, some women still are not getting enough. Many women-specific functional foods contain most or all of the daily recommendation of 400 mcg of folic acid.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that folic acid is not toxic when consumed in large amounts. However,
Studies show that 25 grams of
While more studies are looking at the benefits and risks of soy, most women can generally feel safe adding it to their diets. Many health professionals view soy as a beneficial component of a heart-healthy diet, and recommend that people consume more of it. But do not take too high a dose of concentrated soy isoflavones. In Japan, a country where soy foods are popular, few women consume more than 50 milligrams (mg) of isoflavones daily. Check the label on the functional foods that you buy. Luna Bars, for example, have 9-16 mg of isoflavones.
Calories and Sugar
While women-specific functional foods are loaded with many essential nutrients, they also contain more calories and sugar than nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. While none of these products will blow your diet, they can certainly add up. Just 100 or 200 extra calories a day can contribute to weight gain over the long run. As far as sugar is concerned, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests that people who eat 2,000 calories a day try to limit their added sugar intake to no more than 10 teaspoons—or 40 grams—per day.
The Bottom Line
If these women-specific functional foods appeal to you, have them occasionally. Many women do not get the nutrients they need, so an extra supply every once in a while probably will not hurt. But, as more and more of these products become available, keep in mind that there can be too much of a good thing.
US Department of Agriculture
Canadian Council on Food and Nutrition
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Luna bars FAQ. Luna website. Available at: http://lunabar.com/products/bars/faq/. Accessed March 11, 2010.
Luna bar: nutz over chocolate. Luna website. Available at: http://lunabar.com/products/bars/nutz_over_chocolate/. Accessed March 11, 2010.
Pernicious anemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated January 2010. Accessed March 11, 2010.
Quaker Oatmeal website. Available at: http://www.quakeroatmeal.com/qo_ourProducts/instantQuakerOatmeal/nutritionForWomen/index.cfm. . Accessed March 16, 2008.
US Department of Agriculture website. Available at: http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/food/food-pyramid/main.htm . Accessed on July 11, 2003.
Soy. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/thisTopic.php?marketID=15topicID=114. Updated February 2010. Accessed March 11, 2010.
Last reviewed March 2010 by
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