Can vegetables help ward off early menopause?

06 Jul 2017

Consuming a higher level of vegetable proteins could help ward off early menopause - a contributing risk factor to the development of osteoporosis.

A new study, courtesy of epidemiologists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, suggests that women who gain around 6.5% of their daily calories from vegetable proteins have a significantly-lower risk of an early menopause. This is compared to those who gain just 4% of their calories from vegetable proteins.

Over a twenty-year period, participants – premenopausal women at the start of the study - were asked to record how often they consumed certain foods, drinks and supplements. Researchers analysed the levels of vegetable proteins, animal proteins, and other protein-rich foods consumed during that time.
Whilst vegetable proteins suggested the greatest reduction in risk of early menopause, proteins gained by consuming enriched pasta, dark bread and cold cereals were also understood to be beneficial. Levels of animal proteins appeared to have no impact on risk level.

Helen MacDonald, Professor of Nutrition and Musculoskeletal Health at the Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, said: “This is an interesting study involving large numbers of women, which once again confirms findings from other research that healthy eating contributes to good health.”

She continued: “As other work done with these women showed that additional dietary factors may contribute to the lower risk, it is difficult to know which is the most important - a high vegetable protein intake, for instance, could just be an indicator of an overall healthy diet. The most important message is this confirms we need to eat a well-balanced diet, with foods from all the main food groups and getting protein from a range of sources, including plant based, with plenty of fruit and vegetables."

More about healthy balanced diets

We should all aim to eat meals that incorporate a wide variety of foods from the four main groups: fruit and vegetables; carbohydrates such as bread, potatoes, pasta and cereals; dairy and alternatives; beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins.

A healthy balance diet will help to provide you with all the vitamins, minerals and energy you need to live life to the full, and reduce your risk of osteoporosis and other chronic diseases too.

Find out more about healthy eating for strong bones.

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