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Smart Shopping for Women

Imagine that the next time you go to the grocery store, you get a magical cart. The cart leads you up and down the aisles, selecting foods that are good for you. The cart rejects the double fudge cookies and replaces them with oranges.

But supermarkets don't have magical carts, so to come away with healthy foods, you should keep in mind the ones that women need most. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, many women don't get enough calcium, fiber, or iron. This lack of nutrients has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and brittle bones.

To help fill gaps that may be lurking in your diet, load up on the following foods, which can help you meet your dietary needs.

  • Fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt. You get at least one third of the recommended daily amount of calcium in just one cup of either. Calcium builds and maintains healthy bones and teeth.

  • Oranges. In addition to containing disease-fighting vitamin C, oranges have folic acid, a vitamin that may help prevent certain birth defects when taken before and around the time of conception.

  • Fish and shellfish. These seafoods, especially fatty fish such as salmon, are good sources of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which may lower your risk of heart disease.

  • Brown rice. This grain has fiber, vitamin E, B vitamins, folic acid, and iron.

  • Beans. Beans are excellent, low-fat sources of fiber, iron, and protein. Soybeans may also help reduce your risk for breast cancer and heart disease. Women who are taking tamoxifen, or who have estrogen-sensitive breast tumors, should talk with their doctor before increasing the amount of soy in their diet.

  • Dark green, red, yellow, and orange vegetables. This group includes carrots, spinach, peppers, and sweet potatoes and may help fight cancer and heart disease.

  • Oatmeal. You can't beat this old favorite as a source of iron and fiber.

So for your overall well-being, select the foods that will meet your dietary needs and help you maintain your health!