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Put the Pause on Menopause

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Beans and oily fish delay onset

The onset of menopause can have serious health complications for some women. If it arrives early, it’s linked to an increased risk of heart disease and a delay is linked to greater risk for ovarian cancer. Understanding if controllable factors, such as diet, may play a role in natural onset of menopause could be of great interest to women who have a genetic disposition for these conditions. An observational study published in The British Medical Journal looked into this relationship by analyzing participants from the UK Women’s Cohort Study.

Over 14,000 women, aged 40-65, completed a detailed 217-item food frequency questionnaire when they entered the study. Over four years, 914 women (average of 51 years old) went through menopause, defined as not having a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. Diet analysis showed that high intake of oily fish, like salmon was associated with delayed onset of menopause by about 3 years. Legumes were found to be associated with a later onset by almost 1 year. Higher intakes of vitamin B6 and zinc were also associated with later age at menopause. On the other hand, refined grains such as pasta and rice were associated with earlier menopause by a year and a half. These findings support previous research that suggest antioxidants, vitamins and phenolic compounds found in certain food groups such as whole grains, legumes and oily fish are responsible for pushing off menopause. Essentially these nutrients reduce the amount of ovarian follicles that breakdown, diminishing the low count which is a characteristic of menopause. Researchers believe this information can be important on the public health level since age at menopause is linked to future health outcomes.

The concept of antioxidants may sound complicated, but thankfully adding them to your diet isn’t! For example, our red lentil burgers have a legume base and serve up a dose of zinc too!

Published July 1, 2018

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