Better Nutrition - - FRONT PAGE - /// BY LISA TURNER

Menopause is a nat­u­ral phase of every woman’s life. But the side ef­fects of fluc­tu­at­ing hor­mones feel anything but nor­mal. Ad­di­tion­ally, hor­monal changes dur­ing menopause in­crease the risk of se­ri­ous dis­eases, in­clud­ing os­teo­poro­sis, cancer, and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease. But in­creas­ing your con­sump­tion of the fol­low­ing seven foods can help.

Buck­wheat Tech­ni­cally a seed ( not a whole grain), buck­wheat is an ex­cel­lent source of com­plex carbs, es­sen­tial for sero­tonin, a neu­ro­trans­mit­ter linked with mem­ory and mood. Stud­ies show that com­plex carbs help re­lieve de­pres­sion and el­e­vate mood. Ac­cord­ing to other re­search, hav­ing a carb- con­tain­ing meal at din­ner may shorten sleep on­set. Buck­wheat is gluten- free and rich in B vi­ta­mins, which also im­pact mood. Try this: Stir- fry cooked buck­wheat with eggs, green onions, car­rots, gin­ger, and tamari for a twist on fried rice; toss cooked buck­wheat with chopped pars­ley, red onions, feta cheese, Kala­mata olives, and olive oil; soak un­cooked buck­wheat, chia seeds, and co­conut milk overnight, then serve with berries and honey as a quick break­fast.

Col­lard greens Cal­cium is es­sen­tial dur­ing menopause; os­teo­poro­sis af­fects one of three post­menopausal women, and for those women, the life­time risk of frac­tures is higher than the risk of breast cancer. One cup of col­lards has as much cal­cium as a cup of milk, and some stud­ies sug­gest the ab­sorp­tion of cal­cium from veg­eta­bles is twice as high as from dairy. Plus, col­lards are rich in vi­ta­min K and mag­ne­sium, also crit­i­cal for bone health. Try this: SautŽ shred­ded col­lard greens, chick­peas, and gar­lic in olive oil and harissa; tear col­lard leaves into chip- sized pieces, toss with olive oil and salt, and roast un­til crispy; mas­sage thinly sliced col­lard leaves with olive oil and vine­gar, then toss with radishes, sweet onions, and crum­bled feta cheese for a quick salad.

Sar­dines Like salmon, tuna, and other fatty fish, sar­dines are high in omega- 3 fatty acids, which can help pre­vent hot flashes and re­duce the risk of os­teo­poro­sis and breast cancer. Omega- 3 fats also re­duce triglyc­eride lev­els and pro­tect the heart— es­pe­cially im­por­tant for women re­ceiv­ing hor­mone ther­apy, which can in­crease triglyc­eride lev­els. And if you eat canned sar­dines with bones, you’ll also be get­ting cal­cium.

Try this: Mix canned sar­dines with bread crumbs, minced onions, chopped pars­ley, and eggs, form into pat­ties, and cook in olive oil; in a food pro­ces­sor, com­bine smoked sar­dines, yo­gurt, smoked pa­prika, and black pep­per, process un­til just smooth, and serve with veg­eta­bles for dip­ping; spread mashed av­o­cado on toast, layer with grilled onions and sar­dines, and sprin­kle with pars­ley.

Flaxseeds Flaxseeds are the rich­est source of lig­nans— phy­toe­stro­gens that are struc­turally sim­i­lar to es­tro­gens and may re­duce breast cancer risk. Flax has also been shown to re­duce night sweats and hot flashes and im­prove qual­ity of life dur­ing menopause. In some stud­ies, 40 grams per day of flaxseed had ef­fects sim­i­lar to hor­mone re­place­ment ther­apy for de­creas­ing menopausal symp­toms.

Try this: Beat ground flaxseeds with buck­wheat flour, honey, and eggs, and make sil­ver- dol­lar pan­cakes; blend ground flax with sun­flower seeds, basil, gar­lic, arugula, and lemon for a nut- free pesto; mix flaxseeds with chia seeds, co­conut milk, and co­conut sugar, then top with ca­cao nibs and toasted co­conut chips.

Tomato sauce Tomato sauce is a con­cen­trated source of ly­copene, a pow­er­ful an­tiox­i­dant that re­duces the risk of heart dis­ease and stroke. Ad­di­tion­ally, some stud­ies show that ly­copene can re­duce the risk of os­teo­poro­sis. While toma­toes in gen­eral are high in ly­copene, cook­ing them breaks down cell walls and makes the ly­copene more avail­able; adding olive oil fur­ther in­creases bioavail­abil­ity.

Try this: Cook tomato sauce with pump­kin purŽe, shal­lots, and stock, add miso paste and purŽe un­til smooth; sim­mer tomato sauce with minced onion, gar­lic, Kala­mata olives, ca­pers, and an­chovies for a fast put­tanesca sauce; heat tomato sauce and chopped spinach in a shal­low pan, crack in eggs, sim­mer un­til whites set, and serve hot with shaved Parme­san.

Tem­peh Like flax, soy con­tains phy­toe­stro­gens that mimic the ac­tions of es­tro­gen and can re­lieve symp­toms of menopause. Find­ings on the ef­fects of isoflavones— phy­toe­stro­gens in soy— are mixed, but some stud­ies show a ben­e­fit to hot flash fre­quency and/ or sever­ity. In one study, soy re­duced hot flashes by 45 per­cent. Pop­u­la­tions with a high soy con­sump­tion also have a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in breast cancer in­ci­dence, and isoflavones may also have pro­tec­tive

ef­fects on car­dio­vas­cu­lar and bone health. Soy can be hard to di­gest, so stick to tem­peh; be­cause it’s fer­mented, tem­peh is eas­ier to di­gest and has a higher con­tent of B vi­ta­mins and in­creased an­tiox­i­dant ca­pac­ity. Try this: Stir- fry sliced tem­peh with broc­col­ini, thinly sliced onions, shi­itake mush­rooms, and cashews; sim­mer crum­bled tem­peh with onions, pep­pers, tomato sauce, and sea­son­ings for a ve­gan sloppy Joe; mar­i­nate tem­peh cubes in tamari, olive oil, and gar­lic pow­der, then bake un­til crispy for grain- free crou­tons.

Black beans Black beans and other legumes are loaded with fiber, which pro­tects against breast cancer af­ter menopause. They’re also rich in B vi­ta­mins, im­por­tant for mood, and mag­ne­sium, which pro­tects bone health, im­proves sleep, and may re­lieve anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion. Black beans have higher lev­els of an­tiox­i­dants than other va­ri­eties of beans; they’re es­pe­cially rich in an­tho­cyanins, which have been shown in stud­ies to pro­tect against the risk of heart dis­ease af­ter menopause. Try this: Cook black beans with shred­ded sweet pota­toes, chopped kale, and cumin for quickand- easy break­fast hash; sim­mer black beans with green bell pep­pers, onions, bay leaves, and oregano, and top with av­o­cado, ci­lantro, and sour cream; purŽe black beans with tahini, olive oil, and gar­lic, then stir in finely minced jalape– o pep­pers for a spicy hum­mus for snack­ing.

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