Last updated May 3, 2018 at 10:15 am
As usual, healthier is best.
Eating a lot of healthy foods such as oily fish and fresh legumes is associated with a later onset of menopause, according to new British research. But refined white pasta and rice has the opposite effect.
A team from the University of Leeds studied 14,150 women over four years. An initial questionnaire and survey collected information on reproductive history and health, then the follow up assessed the diets of the 900 women, aged 40-65, who had experienced the onset of a natural menopause in the interim.
Analysis showed that high intakes of oily fish were associated with a delayed start to menopause by nearly three years.
A diet heavy on pasta and rice was associated with menopause occurring one and a half years earlier than average (which is 51 years in the UK).
Study co-author Professor Janet Cade from the School of Food Science and Nutrition said the findings were important because the age at which menopause began could have serious health implications for some women.
“A clear understanding of how diet affects the start of natural menopause will be very beneficial to those who may already be at risk or have a family history of certain complications related to menopause,” she said.
Previous studies have suggested that earlier onset of menopause is associated with lower bone density, osteoporosis and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Later menopause has been associated with a higher risk for breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers.
The authors say their study is the first to investigate the links between individual nutrients and a wide variety of food groups and age at natural menopause in a large cohort of British women.