What to Eat During Menopause
- The Best Foods for Symptom ReliefHot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, weight gain, sleep disturbances and more: Menopause can bring a host of dreaded symptoms, but by adding these key foods to your diet, you can give your body the essential nutrients it needs to cope with the symptoms of this life transition.
- Low-Fat DairyAfter age 35, women start to lose bone mass. Estrogen is key to protecting bone health, and the loss of estrogen during menopause is directly related to bone loss and osteoporosis. If you’re over 50, take action by consuming between 1,200 and 2,000 milligrams of calcium daily. Low-fat dairy, such as milk and yogurt, provides calcium for strong bones, along with the vitamin D necessary for calcium absorption.
- Collard GreensCalcium isn’t limited to the dairy section: Dark, leafy greens are also a healthy source of this essential nutrient. Collard greens, a Southern staple traditionally made to ring in the New Year, provide a high, non-dairy source of calcium and vitamin K, another nutrient essential for healthy bones. Broccoli, beans and kale also pack a healthy dose of calcium and other bone-building nutrients. These vegetables also provide good sources of fiber, which can keep you from experiencing unpleasant bowel changes like constipation and bloating, a common complaint of women during menopause.
- BananasPeel off pounds by peeling into this kitchen staple. During menopause, women tend to lose the muscle mass that burns calories, leading to weight gain. Bananas are rich in potassium, which builds muscle and also regulates blood pressure. Other potassium-rich foods include apricots, avocados and sweet potatoes. A banana and kale smoothie makes a healthy cool-down when those hot flashes and anxiety flare up.
- OatmealThe soluble fiber from oatmeal and other whole grains can help combat the increased cholesterol levels that can come with menopause. All of your cholesterol numbers--total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides--may go up during menopause, increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, HDL cholesterol, the “good” kind that keeps your heart healthy, may go down. Ready-to-eat oatmeal and other cereals contain B12, a vitamin that keeps your blood and nervous system healthy.
- BlueberriesYour cure for the blues, blueberries contain high levels of antioxidants, which can help reduce the stress you may feel during menopause. In post-menopausal women, a decline in estrogen may be a risk factor for heart disease increase, so eating antioxidant “superfoods” like blueberries helps your body to fight the free radicals that play a role in heart disease and other conditions. Blueberries are also high in fiber, low in calories, and provide a burst of Vitamin C. For veggie lovers, choose artichokes, kale, and okra.
- SalmonSalmon provides a plethora of good benefits. As an oily fish, salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help to raise good cholesterol. One study found that EPA, a certain omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil, may lessen the number of menopausal hot flashes. Eating lean proteins like salmon can also head off the weight gain many women experience during menopause, when metabolism slows down.
- Dark ChocolateAn antioxidant-rich indulgence, dark chocolate works wonders on both your brain and body. Cocoa flavonols can help reduce emotional symptoms like anxiety and depression, as well as improve short-term memory lapses and mental fatigue associated with menopause. The darker the chocolate, the higher the beneficial flavonols—but watch your portions. Chocolate is still high in fat and sugar, so a little goes a long way.
- YogurtFluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone can cause painful gastrointestinal issues, such as gas and bloating. Yogurt contains probiotics, beneficial bacteria that may aid in digestion and ease these GI symptoms. If you suffer from lactose intolerance and can’t drink milk, your body may be able to tolerate yogurt, also making it a good choice for calcium. Choose fat-free or low-fat and low-sugar varieties, fortified with Vitamin D. For a refreshing, menopause symptom-taming treat, make a parfait with alternate layers of fresh-sliced bananas, plain yogurt, blueberries, and low-fat granola.
- WaterTo cool the burn of hot flashes, drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated helps reduce headaches, fatigue and anxiety. Without enough H2O our gastrointestinal system gets backed up, causing constipation and bloat. Keeping hydrated also combats symptoms of “brain fog” some women experience during menopause. If frequent urination keeps you up at night, limit your water intake before bed.
- What Not to EatKnowing which foods to avoid during menopause might be the difference between soaking your pillow with sweat and a good night’s sleep. Caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods are hot flash and night sweat triggers for some women. Limit your intake or switch to decaf coffees and teas, non-alcoholic beverages, and mild versions of your favorite salsa. Caffeine may also contribute to bone loss.
What to Eat During Menopause