6 Essential Menopause Foods for Your Midlife Diet

Menopause is a time in your life when eating gets tricky. Although we seem to be endlessly conscious of what we eat, what we weigh, and how we look, menopause brings special attention to the importance of a healthy diet. Add to that a slowing metabolism and health risks that rise with age, and it’s clear that we have to make every calorie count for something good. How do we set priorities in the face of all these competing needs? We want to stay healthy, look good, and yet not overdo it. When making our daily choices, which foods are a must?

1

Yogurt

Bowl of yogurt, fruit, and nuts

Alice Day / EyeEm / Getty Images

As you get past menopause, bone health comes into focus. Daily calcium is part of the recipe for strong bones, along with vitamin D and exercise. Low-fat dairy products like yogurt, plus sardines, almonds, fortified orange juice, and some mineral waters are all ways to get calcium from food. If you decide to use a supplement, be sure it has the USP (United States Pharmacopeia) symbol on it so you can be sure it does not have contaminants such as lead. Your daily total for calcium should be 1200 milligrams (mg), including both supplements and food sources.

2

Oatmeal

Oatmeal with bananas and nuts

Lora-Sutyagina / iStock / Getty Images

Dietary fiber is the part of the plant that is not readily digestible. Adding fiber to your diet in the form of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can lower cholesterol, blood glucose, and prevent constipation—all health concerns that may arise as you get to menopause and beyond. Fiber has the added benefit of making you slow down to chew, which can help you eat more slowly and register when you are full. Try replacing one helping a day of refined carbohydrates like white bread or pasta with a whole grain version like oatmeal or brown rice pasta. Ideally, experts recommend 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day to keep your digestive system running smoothly. 

3

Water

drinks with lemon, lime and orange

Jamie Grill / Creative RF / Getty Images

In her book, The Menopause Diet, Larrian Gillespie refers to water as “liquid oxygen.” And just as oxygen nourishes every cell, water is critical for menopausal women to hydrate cells, moisturize skin, and eliminate toxins from the body. Try to get at least 64 ounces every day: If you measure it into a large bottle or pitcher at the beginning of the day, you can see your progress and try to meet your goal by bedtime.

4

Olive Oil

woman pouring olive oil in jar

Michael Möller / EyeEm / Creative RF / Getty Images

Yes, you need some fat in your diet each and every day. Fat helps moderate hormones, appetite, insulin response, and vitamin absorption. But not all fats are created equal. Increasing the amount of plant-based monosaturated fat can lower your cholesterol rather than adding to the problem. Substituting olive or avocado oil for butter in your cooking is the perfect start. 

5

Soy

soy beans in a row

Jamie Grill / Creative RF / Getty Images

Soy contains phytoestrogens, which for some women can improve menopause symptoms. Beyond these plant estrogens themselves, the isoflavones in soy also trigger certain women to produce more equol—an estrogen that forms in the intestines, which can also help naturally treat hot flashes and other symptoms. Hormones aside, soy is a great source of fiber and some types of tofu also provide calcium. If you substitute soy for red meat at least twice a week you will tip the balance toward menopause health.

6

Beans and Lentils

close-up of hand reaching for fresh vegetables

heatherwalker / Creative RF / Getty Images

Plant-based protein sources such as legumes have been shown to delay the onset of early menopause and prolong female reproductive function. Aiming for three to four servings per day of beans, nuts, peas, soy, tofu, and pasta may have a protective effect on ovarian function in addition to reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. Vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. If you begin to boost your vegetables while you decrease your intake of dairy and meats, you are moving in a direction that will help you lose weight, keep your blood glucose stable, and nourish every cell without clogging arteries. Hard to argue with that.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Calcium and Vitamin D: Important at Every Age. 2018.

  2. University of California San Francisco. Increasing Fiber Intake.

  3. Zong G, Li Y, Sampson L, Dougherty LW, Willett WC, Wanders AJ, Alssema M, Zock PL, Hu FB, Sun Q. Monounsaturated fats from plant and animal sources in relation to risk of coronary heart disease among US men and women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2018 Mar 1;107(3):445-53. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqx004

  4. Schmidt M, Arjomand-Wölkart K, Birkhäuser MH, Genazzani AR, Gruber DM, Huber J, Kölbl H, Kreft S, Leodolter S, Linsberger D, Metka M. Consensus: soy isoflavones as a first-line approach to the treatment of menopausal vasomotor complaints. Gynecological Endocrinology. 2016 Jun 2;32(6):427-30. doi:10.3109/09513590.2016.1152240

  5. Boutot ME, Purdue-Smithe A, Whitcomb BW, Szegda KL, Manson JE, Hankinson SE, Rosner BA, Bertone-Johnson ER. Dietary protein intake and early menopause in the Nurses’ Health Study IIAmerican Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 187, Issue 2, February 2018, Pages 270–277. doi:10.1093/aje/kwx256

Additional Reading