This week we will be discussing the Mediterranean Diet and its potential benefits for menopause, including 5 top tips for making your diet more Mediterranean.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean Diet stems from the eating patterns in Crete, the rest of Greece and Southern Italy in the 1960s, where adult life expectancy was among the highest in the world and rates of coronary heart disease, certain cancers, and other diet-related chronic diseases were amongst the lowest .
The diet consists of fish, monounsaturated fats from olive oil, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes/nuts, and moderate alcohol consumption. The key nutrients it provides are Omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, vitamins, and minerals (learn more, here).
The Mediterranean Diet and Menopause
The Mediterranean Diet (MD) has been shown to reduce the burden, or even prevent the development, of cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, depression, colorectal cancer, diabetes, obesity, asthma, erectile dysfunction, and cognitive decline .
In terms of the MD for menopause there have been several research studies investigating its potential benefits. One study viewed the effects of the MD on menopausal symptoms in women with obesity. This study found that women with lower adherence to the MD had more severe menopausal symptoms. They also found that legume consumption (e.g., beans, lentils, and peas) was associated with lower symptom severity and consumption of extra virgin olive oil was associated with lower physiological symptoms .
Menopausal weight gain is another symptom that has been researched in relation to the MD. A study reviewing adherence to the MD and overweight/obesity found that women who adhered more to the MD diet were associated with a lower BMI, and lower likelihood of being overweight/obese. The additionally found that individual with a lower BMI had less severe menopausal symptoms .
In summary, the MD may be effective for menopausal women. Evidence suggests that those who adhere to a MD are less likely to be overweight/obese, experience less severe menopausal symptoms, and reduce the likelihood of other co-morbidities such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
5 Top Tips for the Mediterranean Diet for Menopause
1. Use olive oil instead of butter.
2. Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day.
3. Choose wholegrain products over their refined counterparts.
4. Eat more fish, instead of meat.
5. Add legumes to your meals.
Caroline Hill is a specialist menopause dietitian supporting women making dietary change. Caroline uses her extensive knowledge, skills and expertise of food and nutrition to help women manage their symptoms and weight during menopause. Caroline believes in providing sustainable, individualised, evidence-based advice to women making dietary change.