NEW YORK: A diet rich in fish and vegetables may delay the onset of menopause, a new study has found.
British researchers used health and behavioral data on 9,027 women ages 40 to 65, and followed them for four years. They assessed their diet using a detailed 217-item food frequency questionnaire that included information on portion size. Over the course of the study, and after excluding women who were pregnant, used hormone replacement therapy or had surgically induced menopause, there were 914 women who went through menopause naturally.
The study, in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found that the average age at menopause was 51. After adjusting for body mass index, socioeconomic factors, smoking, alcohol consumption and other variables, they found that for each additional two-and-a-half-ounce portion a day of fresh legumes (like peas or beans), menopause was delayed by about one year, and for each additional three-ounce portion of oily fish, by about three years. Eating refined rice and pasta, on the other hand, was associated with an earlier age of menopause.
“This is an observational study,” said the lead author, Yashvee Dunneram, a Ph.D. student at the University of Leeds in England, “and we can’t advise women on what to eat or not eat based on our findings. But it would be good if it could prompt more studies that might explain the exact mechanism.”