Healthy habits can help to improve various symptoms of menopause. And eating 5 portions of fruits and vegetables every day is a key part of this (1). Discover why they are important for a healthy diet, including which ones are the best to consume right here!
Why include fruits and vegetables in your diet at menopause?
Fruits and vegetables are an essential food group as they are rich in nutrients and fibre, which are required for the proper functioning of the body (2).
On the one hand, fibre is important for improving digestion, promoting bowel movement and maintaining weight. While vitamins and minerals contained in vegetables and fruits are necessary for bodily functions such as breathing, walking, thinking, among others (2).
In addition, these foods also contain different types of phytoestrogens (such as polyphenols, isoflavones, flavonoids and lignans). These are compounds with a similar structure to oestrogens in humans. They can therefore fulfil a function similar to that of these hormones (1).
Benefits of including fruits and vegetables in the menopause
While their intake is beneficial for anyone, regardless of age, it is especially useful for women in menopause. The phytoestrogens contained in these foods may help to (3,4):
- Improve some physical and emotional alterations, typical of the menopause.
- Complement hormonal treatment, helping to enhance its effectiveness.
- Reduce free radical damage by acting as antioxidants.
- Boost the immune system.
- Prevent the risk of developing osteoporosis.
While fruits and vegetables themselves also provide benefits, such as the following (2):
- They provide essential vitamins and minerals for the body.
- They help to increase fibre intake and thus prevent bowel problems such as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and colitis.
- Also, they help you feel more satiated.
- They help reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and some cancers.
5 fruits and vegetables to include in your diet
Now, let’s look at some foods you can start including in your diet during menopause:
After sesame seeds and flax seeds, kale is the third food with the most lignans (a type of phytoestrogen). In addition, this vegetable provides vitamin C and several minerals, such as magnesium and manganese. You can add half a cup to your meals and, if you prepare it as a salad, you can add a teaspoon of sesame seeds (5).
This vegetable provides vitamin C, folic acid, minerals (such as potassium) and fibre. It is a very versatile food that can be steamed, added in small pieces to rice or pasta sauce (5).
Sweet green pepper
Whether you eat it raw in your salad or use it in your casseroles, sweet green peppers are an excellent choice. This food also contains phytoestrogens, vitamins and minerals that are necessary for you at this stage (6).
It is a versatile fruit that you can add to desserts, breakfasts and snacks. This fruit contains both flavonoids and lignans, making it a great ally during the menopause. It also provides vitamin A (7).
These berries contain substances with antioxidant properties, such as flavonoids and polyphenols. They help to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. They are also very easy to combine with yoghurt, pancakes, smoothies and fruit salads (8).
Keys to including fruits and vegetables in your diet
Here are some tips to include these foods in your daily routine (1,2):
- At snack time, eat a piece of fruit instead of a bread roll or sweets with refined sugar.
- Prepare broths and creams from blended vegetables.
- Increase the amount little by little to avoid stomach pain due to excessive fibre intake.
- Take advantage of hot days to prepare fresh vegetable salads.
- Alternate between raw and cooked foods. You can also add canned fruits or vegetables.
- Add them as an ingredient to your favourite recipes. For example, try making a carrot cake instead of a chocolate cake.
Fruits and vegetables are necessary at all stages of life, but you should prioritise them during the menopause. Sufficient consumption, in conjunction with other healthy habits, can help you cope with menopausal symptoms.
- Cambridge University Hospitals. Menopause: A healthy lifestyle guide [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Feb 16]. Available from: https://www.cuh.nhs.uk/patient-information/menopause-a-healthy-lifestyle-guide/
- NHS. Menopause: Why 5 a day? [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 12]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/5-a-day/why-5-a-day/
- Jang WY, Kim MY, Cho JY. Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-menopausal, and anti-cancer effects of lignans and their metabolites. Int J Mol Sci. 2022; 23(24):15482. Available from: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms232415482
- Vrachnis N, Zygouris D, Vrachnis D, Antonakopoulos N, Fotiou A, Panagopoulos P, et al. Effects of hormone therapy and flavonoids capable on reversal of menopausal immune senescence. Nutrients. 2021; 13(7):2363. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu13072363
- Drave VJ. Lignans [Internet]. Linus Pauling Institute. 2021 [cited 2023 Feb 16]. Available from: https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/lignans
- Rodríguez García C, Sánchez Quesada C, Toledo E, Delgado Rodríguez M, Gaforio JJ. Naturally Lignan-Rich Foods: A Dietary Tool for Health Promotion? Molecules. 2019; 24(5):917. Available from: https://doi.org/10.3390%2Fmolecules24050917
- Castro Vazquez L, Alañón ME, Rodríguez Robledo V, Pérez Coello MS, Hermosín Gutierrez I, Díaz Maroto MC, Jordán J, Galindo MF, Arroyo Jiménez MM. Bioactive Flavonoids, Antioxidant Behaviour, and Cytoprotective Effects of Dried Grapefruit Peels (Citrus paradisi Macf.). Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016; 2016:8915729. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/8915729
- Wang Y, Gallegos JL, Haskell-Ramsay C, Lodge JK. Effects of Blueberry Consumption on Cardiovascular Health in Healthy Adults: A Cross-Over Randomised Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2022; 14(13):2562. Available from: https://doi.org/10.3390%2Fnu14132562