6 Essential Menopause Foods for Your Midlife Diet

Menopause is a time in your life when your diet can have a major impact on your overall health and how you feel on a day-to-day basis. With slowing metabolism and age-related health risks, there are some nutrients you need to make sure you're getting, and some foods to avoid. A healthy diet can help you look your best too because it affects your skin, face, and hair.



Bowl of yogurt, fruit, and nuts

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Menopause can affect bone health, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Daily calcium is part of the recipe for strong bones, along with vitamin D and exercise. However, large amounts of calcium may be harmful.

Although the jury is still out on the optimal amount of calcium intake during and after menopause, to be safe, stick to no more than 600 milligrams in supplement form daily, with an emphasis on obtaining calcium through green leafy vegetables and fish.

Yogurt, sardines, almonds, fortified orange juice, and some mineral waters are additional ways to get calcium from food. If you decide to use a supplement, buy one that has the USP (United States Pharmacopeia) symbol on it so you can be sure it does not have contaminants.



Oatmeal with bananas and nuts

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Dietary fiber is the part of plants that is not readily digestible. Adding fiber to your diet in the form of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can lower cholesterol, control 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 know when you are full.

Try replacing refined carbohydrates like white bread or pasta with whole-grain versions such as oatmeal or brown rice. Ideally, experts recommend 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day to keep your digestive system running smoothly. 



drinks with lemon, lime and orange

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In her book, The Menopause Diet, Larrian Gillespie refers to water as “liquid oxygen.” And just as oxygen nourishes every cell, water is critical 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.


Olive and Avocado Oils

woman pouring olive oil in jar

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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 in your diet can lower your cholesterol rather than adding to the problem. Substituting olive or avocado oil for butter in your cooking is the perfect start. 



soy beans in a row

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Soy contains phytoestrogens, which for some women can improve menopause symptoms. Beyond these plant estrogens, 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 menopausal health.


Beans and Lentils

close-up of hand reaching for fresh vegetables

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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, and tofu may have a protective effect on ovarian function, in addition to reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.

Vegetables are also loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. If you begin to boost your vegetables while decreasing 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.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process 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. Updated October 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, et al. Dietary protein intake and early menopause in the nurses' health study II. Am J Epidemiol. 2018;187(2):270-277. doi:10.1093/aje/kwx256

Additional Reading

By Kate Bracy, RN, NP
Kate Bracy, RN, MS, NP, is a registered nurse and certified nurse practitioner who specializes in women's health and family planning.