All About Seniors Health

Foods Most Beneficial for Menopause
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Tofu and soy foods

Women who have menopause can greatly benefit from eating soy beans, soy products like tofu as they contain isoflavones, a phytoestrogen (plant form of oestrogen) which may help to regulate and balance oestrogen levels in the body and reduce symptoms associated with menopause.

Eating just 100g of tofu and 2 tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed every day can reduce hot flushes and vaginal dryness. The tofu can be used in a stiry fry (instead of meat) - just add it with the vegetables and use herbs for flavour. The ground flaxseeds can be added to beakfast cereals, to smoothies, to stir fries and even to cakes (along with the other dry ingredients), but it is better when it is not cooked.

Studies show that there is a direct link between eating foods with high levels of phytoestrogens (plant-based weak oestrogens) and lower rates of oestrogen-dependent cancers, such as cancers of the breast, ovary and uterus.

Women who want to try soy, should ensure they buy non-GM soy foods - these are soy foods which are not genetically modified in any way. GM soy may not have the same benefits for menopause as non-GM soy.

Soy are a low fat source of protein.


Fruits and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are natural sources of fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals and phytoestrogens. In addition to this, they are generally low in fat, sugar and salt, which make them perfect for menopausal women.

Menopausal woman should aim to get at least 3 servings of fruit each day (up to about 5) and at least 5 servings of vegetable each day (up to 7).

This is to ensure that there is adequate intake of all the essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Women that have menopause have specific nutrient requirements (or even deficiencies) that make it vitally necessary that they eat adequate supplies from natural food sources.


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Boron-rich foods

Boron is a trace mineral which the body only needs in very small amounts for health. Studies show that boron helps the body retain more of it's natural levels of oestrogen to double the amount than in those women not getting enough of this vital mineral. Boron also helps to keep the bones strong by enabling the body to hold onto more of it's calcium and so prevents bone loss by up to 40%.

Fruits rich in boron and rich in phytoestrogens (isoflavones or lignans):

Vegetables rich in boron and rich in phytoestrogens (isoflavones or lignans):

There are also a number of fruits and vegetables that contain boron, but not phytoestrogens and they are:

Apricots, avocadoes, Bananas, black currants, blueberries, figs, goosberries, mandarin, mangoes, oranges, papaya, peaches, persimmon, quinces, rockmelon (cantaloupe), red currants, sour cherries.

Alfalfa, black beans, Brussels sprouts, butter beans, celery root, chicory root, Chinese cabbage, cowpeas, cauliflower, dandelion leaf, radish, endive, spinach


Phytoeostrogen-rich foods

There are a number of foods which are rich in phytoestrogens (flavones, lignans, isoflavones) and can help with menopausal symptoms. Phytoeostrogens are structurally similar and function similarly to the natural hormones in the body, as they encourage or limit the production of the natural hormones (especially oestrogen) in the body to ensure they are at balanced levels. Phytoeostrogens from plant sources in foods, are much weaker than synthetic hormones, so they take longer to work, but this also means they do not have any of the side effects associated with synthetic hormones (especially in HRT).

Plant oestrogens (phytoestrogens) can help to increase the amount of weak oestrogens circulating in the body, which makes the body think that the level of oestrogen is similar to pre-menopause, which may decrease the risks associated with menopause (heart disease, osteoporosis). Phytoeostrogen also do not have the many risks associated with taking synthetic oestrogens (from HRT). Plant bases oestrogens are associated with lower rates of oestrogen-dependent cancers, such as cancers of the breast, ovary and uterus (many studies have suggested).

One word of caution about phytoestrogens - women who already have an oestrogen-dependent cancer (or who have a high family risk of developing it) should consult their doctor about eating more foods high in phytoestrogens before they do so, as the plant oestrogens may accelerate the cancer. Not enough is known about the link between phytoestrogens and existing cancer and it may be better to err on the side of caution.

Some foods, herbs and spices that are naturally rich sources of phytoestrogens are:


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Calcium-rich foods

The diet of a menopausal women especially needs to be high in calcium-rich foods to reduce risk of bone loss and osteoporosis.

Calcium is available in both dairy and non-dairy, plant foods, but if this is difficult, supplements can be used for women who are especially at risk of osteoporosis.

Foods rich in magnesium, boron, vitamin D and phosphorus also need to be eaten to ensure the body is able to retain the calcium much better to further prevent bone loss and risk of osteoporosis.

Sources of calcium-rich foods include:

FOOD SOURCE Serving size calcium (mg)
Yoghurt, plain low-fat 1 cup 415
Ricotta cheese, part skim ½ cup 337
Milk 1 cup 300
Swiss cheese, processed 28g 272
Cheddar cheese 28g 204
Salmon (with bones) 85g 203
Colby cheese 28g 194
Pudding, instant chocolate ½ cup 149
Mozzarella cheese 28g 147
Tofu, uncooked ½ cup 130
Navy beans 1 cup 128
Spinach, cooked 28g 122
Turnip greens, cooked ½ cup 99
Sardines (with bones) 85g 92
English muffin 1 regular 90
Ice-cream, vanilla ½ cup 85
Almonds, dry roasted 28g 80
Chickpeas 1 cup 78
Brie cheese 28g 52
Swiss charrd, cooked ½ cup 51
Kidney beans 1 cup 50
Okra ½ cup 50
Black beans 1 cup 47
Kale, cooked ½ cup 47
Broccoli, cooked ½ cup 36
Sunflower seeds 28g 34
Sweet potato, baked 1 medium 32
Cabbage, cooked 1 large 25
Egg ½ cup 25
Potato, baked 1 medium 20
Collard greens, cooked ½ cup 15
Peanuts 28g 15


Women who are lactose intolerant may benefit from trying out the following strategies to help increase intake of calcium:


Magnesium-rich foods

Foods rich in magnesium are especially necessary for women who are menopausal for two very distinct reasons:


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Fibre-rich foods

Fibre is essential in a healthy diet as it has numerous benefits for menopausal women:


Flaxseeds and other sources of lignans

Flaxseeds (or linseeds) are an excellent source of lignans, a type of phytoestrogens. In fact they often contain around 75-700 times more lignans than any other plant sources.

Flaxseeds are an excellent source of the essential fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid (which is an omega-6 fatty acid), both of which are necessary for a number of functions in the body.

Studies show that lignans may lower cancer risk by blocking the effects that excessive oestrogen in the body can cause. Liganans have a similar chemical structure to natural oestrogen and are thought to attach to eostrogen receptor cells on the breast tissue, preventing the oestrogen produced by the body from attaching to them and reducing the likelihood of stimulating breast tissue from becoming cancerous.

In addition to this, lignans produce a substance that attaches itself to any excess oestrogen produced in the body and removes it harmlessly out of the body.

Lignans also have excellent antioxidant properties, so they protect the cells in the body from free radical damage and thus from damage to the DNA, which ultimately can cause cancer.

Flaxseed contains soluble fibre, which many studies show may lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels and other studies show that a diet with regular intake of flaxseeds can help to make the arteries more flexible and healthy, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The oil in flaxseed may help the body better absorb calcium, magnesium and vitamin D from foods and this is very helpful for menopausal women because all of these are needed to ensure the bones are healthy and strong and prevent bone loss associated with osteoporosis.

Other plant sources of lignans are:

Lignan-rich foods are a low fat source of protein.


Good fats

It is imporant to have a diet lower in saturated fat, but there still needs to be an adequate amount of good fats in the diet.

A diet high in fat (but especially saturated fat) is associated with heart disease and many cancers (especially breast cancer) and as the risk for all of these is higher in menopausal women, it would be beneficial to eat less saturated fat.

Good fats (polyunsaturated fats from omega-3 essential fatty acids especially, but also omega-6 essential fatty acids) on the other hand, are associated with lowering cholesterol and trigylcerides in the blood and ensuring good health.

The best ways to ensure that the diet contains enough of the good fats are:


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  Last reviewed: 21 April 2008 || Last updated: 15 January 2009


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NOTE: Mega doses of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, or other supplements cannot cure illnesses and in fact can be very dangerous and produce toxic side effects and interfere with medicine you are taking. Always ensure you consult your doctor before taking any type of nutrient supplement.
Disclaimer: This guide is not intended to be used for diagnostic or prescriptive purposes. For any treatment or diagnosis of illness, please see your doctor.