The best foods to eat to support menopause
As a menopause nutritionist, I see all the time the powerful impact of food and nutrition on how women navigate the hormonal changes of mid life.
In this blog, I’ve picked 3 of the top foods that will support your hormone health and a smoother menopause.
Each small change to your diet makes a big difference!
One of my top recommendations is milled flaxseeds. They taste great sprinkled on porridge or muesli and added to smoothies. They have a nutty flavour and a crunchy texture. You can also add them to soup before serving and make desserts with them.
When cooking with flaxseeds, heat them as little as possible to avoid damaging the nutrients e.g. add them just before the dish is ready for eating.
Flaxseeds are high in fibre which keeps your gut healthy. A healthy gut is key for healthy hormones.
Some of the fibre from flaxseeds is fermented in your gut and helps grow good bacteria to keep your gut microbiome healthy.
The fibre in flaxseeds also absorbs water in your intestines and becomes gel like. Constipation can be a problem in menopause. Flaxseeds help make your stools more bulky and move through your gut.
Two tablespoons of flaxseeds contain 4 grams of your 30g government recommended daily fibre requirements.
Flaxseed might help with weight loss too. One study showed a significant loss of body weight and a reduced waist measurement in the study participants who ate flaxseeds.
This is thought to be because flaxseeds make you feel fuller for longer so you eat less food.
Two studies found a reduction in menopausal symptoms, particularly hot flushes, in women who were given flaxseeds for a few weeks. Although some previous studies did not find the same positive results.
Almonds are a menopause “superfood”. They are up there on the list when it comes to the best foods for the menopause.
They are high in protein and fibre which help keep you fuller for longer. A study found that snacking on 43g almonds per day:
- Kept blood sugar levels balanced (for stable mood and energy levels and reducing cravings for sugar rich foods)
- Reduced hunger and desire to overeat later in the day
- Did not cause weight gain
Almonds contain magnesium and vitamin E, both very important female nutrients. For more information on signs and symptoms that you might be lacking in these two nutrients go here for magnesium and here for vitamin E
An ounce (28g) almonds contains half your daily vitamin E requirements.
Vitamin E and magnesium are not so easy to get enough of in foods generally. They are vital during the peri menopausal and menopausal years.
A study in 2012 found that over three quarters of Britons and Americans were obtaining less than the minimum government recommended daily intake of vitamin E.
And it is thought that 80% of women have less than optimal levels of magnesium
You might be tempted to skip this one, don’t! I know there is a bit of resistance for many people around tofu. It’s associated with being bland, beige and boring. However that’s not true!
It’s all about the way you cook it (stir frying it gives a crispy texture) or the flavours you add. See below for a very easy, tasty recipe to try.
Asian women experience hot flushes much less frequently than women in America or Europe.
One reason for this is thought to be the high amount of plant oestrogens from soya beans, eaten in Asian diets.
Soya beans, which are the main ingredient of tofu, contain plant chemicals called isoflavones which have a weak oestrogen like effect on your body.
There have been many studies on the effect of soya on menopausal symptoms, particularly relating to hot flushes.
How is tofu made?
Tofu is made by soaking and boiling soya beans in water until the soya “milk” separates from the solids (like curds and whey during cheese making). The solids are pressed into blocks.
When soya beans are soaked and cooked, substances in soya which can cause problems in your digestive system, are removed.
When choosing tofu, look for as few ingredients as possible on the label e.g. water, organic soya beans and calcium sulphate (added to help separate the solids from the liquid). If you want to be sure it is GMO free, buy organic. Cauldron is my favourite brand and its available in most supermarkets. Cauldron do a ready marinated version which is handy if you are short of time.
Why is tofu healthy?
As well as containing beneficial oestrogens, tofu contains around 12g of protein and 200mg of calcium in an average 100g portion. Calcium is vital for healthy bones and nerves and if you don’t eat many dairy foods, tofu is a useful way to boost your calcium.
Tofu is vegan and gluten free. Go on give it a try!
Certain specific vegetables may be especially beneficial for menopausal women. The family of vegetables known as cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, bok choi and Brussels sprouts.
There are well established scientific links between higher vegetable intake and prevention of heart disease and cancer.
Why cruciferous in particular?
Cruciferous vegetables contain a plant chemical called sulphoraphane which is part of the flavonoid family of plant chemicals. It may influence the way you metabolise oestrogen in your body.
Oestrogen is broken down into different types, one of which is linked with breast cancer. It’s important to keep the ratio of “good” oestrogen higher than the “bad” oestrogen. The plant chemical in cruciferous vegetables is thought to help shift the oestrogen ratio in favour of the less harmful oestrogen.
Personalised Nutrition Consultations
If you would like a personalised menu and supplement plan for mid life and menopause health, check out my one to one consultations here