You’ve probably heard countless times how important it is to eat a healthy diet.
To be honest, it just becomes more and more important as you age. Any major shift in your body’s chemistry can cause you to feel things you’ve never felt before, and hormone imbalances that come with menopause can certainly throw you for a loop!
That’s why it’s so crucial to be able to fall back on consistent, healthy habits — like the things we eat to fuel our bodies.
Before you get overwhelmed, remember that changing small, daily habits can go a long way. There are so many delicious, nutrient-packed foods out there that you can add to your daily routine! It’ll just take some time to find the ones you love enough to eat all the time.
When searching for the right foods to make up your menopause diet, start by generally focusing on whole, unprocessed foods. Think nutrient-dense, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
In case you’re experiencing unwanted menopause weight gain, you’ll want to focus on low-fat, low-sugar, and high fiber foods that will keep you feeling satisfied and energized — even if your hormones feel out of whack.
Let’s dig in to some of the best foods you can turn to during your menopause journey and all the awesome benefits they have to offer.
We’ve organized them based on the main nutrients they provide — but keep in mind that most of these foods overlap across the different categories.
Antioxidants and Anti-Inflammatories
Eating foods with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits is extremely important, especially during menopause. These foods can help rid the body of free radicals and toxins, all while flushing out old hormones and reducing inflammation that can lead to joint pain and disease.
Turmeric is a yellow spice that contains an important chemical compound called curcumin. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that can help reduce pain and swelling, regulate blood pressure, flush toxins, improve heart and skin health, and provide antidepressant benefits… all of which can make for a better menopause (and overall aging) experience. Consider it your new favorite household spice!
Matcha is a powdered green tea with tons of health benefits. It can help provide stress relief, improve memory and cognition, promote bone health, and boost your metabolism. Matcha also contains tons of vitamins that support hormonal balance — helping to ease your menopause journey while resisting menopause weight gain. It’s estimated that matcha provides 10x the nutritional content and 137x the antioxidants of standard green tea!
Tart cherries, blueberries, and other berries also contain loads of antioxidants. Their anti-inflammatory properties can help with pain relief, muscle soreness, exercise recovery, and restful sleep. They also support brain and heart health and can help reduce stress and high blood pressure.
Fiber, Protein, and Water — All in One!
Fiber is amazing for both heart and gut health — aiding in digestion and helping you feel full and satiated after meals.
Protein is another food source that will keep you feeling full on fewer calories. It also works to stabilize your blood sugar which can help with menopausal mood swings.
Water helps your body process fiber, flush waste, helps deliver oxygen to your cells, regulates body temperature, keeps you hydrated, and plenty more. All of these benefits can be extremely helpful in mitigating the effects of menopause — like hot flashes, mood swings, and dryness. Regardless, up to 60% of the human body is water, so there’s no doubt that it’s important whether you’re going through menopause or not!
Luckily, it’s easy to find foods that are rich in all three of these wonderful things! Here are a few:
- Black beans
- Kidney beans
- Split peas
- Old fashioned cooked oatmeal
There are plenty of other foods that are high in at least one of these things. For example, lean meats are an excellent source of protein.
Flaxseed and pumpkin seed are also great sources of fiber and can help with regulating blood sugar, soothing digestion, improving heart health, and lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure. Flaxseed is an awesome source of lignans — plant-based compounds with a slight estrogen effect. Other whole foods like broccoli, grains, berries, apples, nuts, avocados, and potatoes are all high in fiber too.
Calcium and Vitamin D
Because of decreased estrogen levels, menopausal and postmenopausal women can experience a drop in bone density. If you’re going through menopause, this means you could be at a higher risk for joint pain, fractures, and osteoporosis.
But don’t worry — an adequate intake of calcium can help protect against these risks. It’s also important to note that your body must have enough vitamin D, so you’re able to actually absorb the calcium.
Dairy products are high in calcium and vitamin D. For example:
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
Some non-dairy sources that are high in calcium and vitamin D include:
- Dark leafy greens
- Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, kale, cauliflower, bok choy)
- Sesame seeds
- Chia seeds
- Almond, rice, coconut, and hemp milk
You can find more calcium-rich foods and their estimated calcium amounts here.
The Women's Health Initiative study has revealed that postmenopausal women might be at a higher risk for anemia — a condition where your body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to circulate oxygen, often making you feel tired and weak.
When it comes to anemia, iron deficiency is typically the culprit.
Hold on, can’t you just take an iron supplement to fix that? Well, it’s not that simple.
Iron supplements haven’t been proven effective in decreasing the risk of anemia in postmenopausal women, and taking a supplement even introduces the risk of iron-overload. Yeah, that’s a real thing!
Instead, a well-balanced diet that includes iron-rich foods is the way to go. Here are some suggestions:
- Red meats
- Beans and lentils
- Iron-fortified cereals
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Dried fruit
Because both too much and too little iron can cause problems, we recommend reaching out to your doctor to get your iron levels tested. We want to make sure it’s juuuuust right.
Healthy Fats and Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Getting enough healthy fats and Omega-3 in your diet can help to soothe the drying effects that sometimes come with menopause.
Some common food sources include:
These healthy fats are typically also high in vitamin E and other minerals, which can help with vascular health and fight free radicals in your body — providing hydration and defending your body against the common signs of aging.
Note: we mentioned eating a whole-food, nutrient-dense, low-fat diet can be an effective way to ease your menopause experience, but low-fat doesn’t mean no-fat. Fats are still an important part of a balanced diet, so we want to make sure you’re focusing on the good ones!
While this isn’t a comprehensive list, these foods can help you naturally combat the discomforts that come with aging and menopause. At ALN, we love focusing on natural remedies, and paying attention to what you put inside of your body will always play a huge role in how you feel.
Along with your diet, don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Hydration is central to promoting the benefits mentioned here!
Last but not least: remember to move your body! Paired with a healthy diet, exercise can provide additional stress relief, build muscle mass, slow mineral loss in your bones, and more! Above all, it can be a fun outlet and a chance to spend quality time with family and friends.