Food is medicine - so when searching for cures to what ails you in the menopause department, it just makes sense to take a closer look at what’s in your refrigerator. While eliminating wheat and going plant-based should be on everyone’s radar – menopausal or not - sometimes baby steps are in order and stocking your pantry with these menopause superfoods is a big step in the right direction. In fact, incorporating these foods in sufficient quantity can lead to improvement in many of your symptoms - as well as some you didn’t even know were related, like inflammation, elevated blood sugars and cardiovascular issues - and you will absolutely be healthier as a result.
Here’s your shopping list.
Turns out that avocado toast actually helps balance your hormones! It’s true - the plant sterols in avocados block excess estrogen absorption and promote progesterone production in women, making them super useful in your menopause pantry. A 2011 Iranian study comparing phytoestrogen therapy (soy + avocado) to HRT showed that the two therapies had identical results in reducing hot flashes - by 42.5%. In addition, both therapies had similar reductions in depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness after two months of treatment – with NO side effects in the phytoestrogen group. In addition, the healthy fats in avocados work wonders on regulating insulin and promoting weight loss[i], as well as balancing stress hormones produced by the adrenals. They are easy to incorporate into your diet no matter what protocol you follow (Vegan, Paleo, Keto, etc.), and are plentiful and easy to find year-round. You can even add them to brownies, so that’s a plus.
Flaxseed has shown promise specifically in relation to managing hot flashes; in studies, a daily dose of 40g (about 4 Tbsp) taken over six weeks reduced hot flashes by 57%.[ii] Participants also reported an improvement in joint pain, mood, and “quality of life.” It’s important to note that it is the ground or whole flaxseeds - not the oil – that seem to be most effective. Flaxseeds are easy to incorporate into your diet – they add a subtle nutty flavor to salads, roasted vegetables, and grain dishes; and can easily be thrown into your morning smoothie without changing the flavor at all. Buy them whole and store in the refrigerator; use them as-is or grind them just before using to preserve the efficacy of the oils. Don’t buy them in bulk bins, as you don’t know how long (or how well) they have been stored, and the oils may have been compromised by temperature fluctuations.
Pomegranates and Pomegranate Seed Oil (PSO)
Because of their dense phytoestrogen level, pomegranates, especially in the extract or oil form, are the subject of several recent studies on menopausal women.[iii] Improvements in hot flashes, sleep disorders, fatigue, and irritability were shown after four weeks of treatment (1,000mg of pomegranate seed oil). But just eating the fruit or drinking the juice has multiple benefits as well: it is a super antioxidant, with three times the amount of antioxidant power of either green tea or red wine; it reduces inflammation, fights breast cancer, reduces arthritis and joint pain, and improves memory. Oh, did I mention that one animal study even showed a decrease in visceral fat with prolonged ingestion of PSO? Even better: vaginal dryness was shown to improve by about 40%![iv] This is promising indeed, as natural methods seem to be pretty effective across the board on hot flashes and mood, but I haven’t seen much at all about how to address the sexual side effects of menopause. Bottom line: add pomegranates to everything! The juice is delicious and can be used to make salad dressings, sauces, and refreshing drinks; the arils are a great topping for salads, vegetable dishes, and breakfast dishes like oatmeal and (non-dairy) yogurt parfaits.
Does all this mean that crushing a giant bowl of guacamole on a daily basis will eliminate your hot flashes? Probably not. But it is compelling evidence that moving towards a plant-based diet incorporating these Menopause Super Foods can go a long way in keeping you healthy and feeling on top of your game throughout this next chapter of your life.
P.S. Snacks can be tough, but there is one line of energy bars that are made specifically for us - they are called Bossa Bars, and they are chock full of all the menopause superfoods that keep us balanced - they are super yummy too! You can get 10% off any order using the code VITALFEMME10 at checkout - click here to learn more!