Reader's Digest

DIET CAN DELAY MENOPAUSE

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Afour-year study conducted by researcher­s at England’s University of Leeds is the first to demonstrat­e that what women eat affects when they will go through menopause, which in turn can have significan­t health effects.

Later-in-life menopause is associated with a longer life expectancy and a reduced risk of heart disease and osteoporos­is. (At the same time, it is linked to an increased risk of breast, endometria­l, and ovarian cancer.)

Among the 914 women in the study (who ranged from 40 to 65 years old), the average age of menopause was 50.5 years. Those who ate 3 ounces of oily fish (such as salmon and trout) every day started menopause an average of 3.3 years later than those who didn’t. Women who typically ate 2.6 ounces of fresh legumes (such as green and lima beans) daily delayed menopause by 0.9 years. Fresh legumes are a good source of antioxidan­ts, while omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish can increase antioxidan­t activity, which slows down the egg cell maturation that leads to menopause.

On the other hand, eating 7.4 ounces per day of pasta and rice was associated with menopause that began 18 months earlier, on average. High consumptio­n of refined carbs increases the risk of insulin resistance, which can lead to higher estrogen levels and a more rapid depletion of egg cells, which might trigger an earlier menopause.

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