Ben Schwartz is Associate Editor, Contemporary OB/GYN.
New research indicates that women may be able to reduce menopausal symptoms by increasing their intake of fruits and vegetables (FV).
While hormone therapy (HT) is an acceptable treatment for these symptoms, it is a limited option because of increased health risks, which makes identifying modifiable lifestyle factors, like diet, more important.
The cross-sectional study was published in Menopause and aimed to address the relationship between climacteric symptoms and their subscales and total intakes of FV, and also their specific subtypes such as green, yellow, cruciferous, and other vegetables, plus citrus, berry and other fruit separately.
The study recruited 393 postmenopausal women aged 40 to 76 who attended the municipality health centers associated with Tehran University of Medical Sciences between September 2016 and January 2017. Participants were included in the study if they had been postmenopausal for ≥ 1 year.
Women were excluded if they had a BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2, smoked, had a medical history or presence of particular comorbidities (cancer, diabetes, stroke, multiple sclerosis, dementia, hyper or hypothyroidism), or had received HT for the past 6 months. Demographic and socioeconomic data were collected via face-to-face interview.
Participants were given a menopause rating scale (MRS) questionnaire with 11 items consisting of somatic, psychological, and urogenital symptoms to evaluate their menopausal symptoms. Responses ranged from 0 (no symptom) to 4 (very severe).
The total MRS score (TMRSS) was the sum of the somatic score (SS), psychological score (PS), and urogenital score (US). Dietary intake was assessed through an in-person interview using a validated semiquantitative 147-item Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) and consisted of food items with a standard serving size commonly consumed by Iranian people.
After adjusting for confounding variables, the authors discovered an inverse relationship between total FV and TMRSS (OR 0.23, 95% CI 0.06 – 0.81) and SS (OR 0.30, 95% CI 0.11-0.82). The authors also found that consumption of total fruits was significantly related to lower SS (OR 0.27, 95% CI 0.10-0.71).
Only intake of citrus fruits was inversely associated with TMRSS (OR 0.23, 95% CI 0.07-0.71) and SS (OR 0.28, 95% CI 0.11-0.70).
Intakes of total FV (Or 2.46, 95% CI 1.37-4.41), total vegetables (OR 2.54, 95% CI 1.10-5.88), green leafy vegetables (OR 3.59, 95% CI 1.47-8.75), dark yellow vegetables (OR 2.28, 95% CI 1.00-5.18), other vegetables (OR 5.23, 95% CI 1.17-15.39) and citrus fruits were linked to higher US (OR 4.35, 95% CI 1.77-10.77).
Based on their findings, the authors believe that health care providers may want to consider developing nutritional plans for their postmenopausal patients who suffer from menopausal symptoms.
Increased total amount of FV and citrus fruits showed an inverse relationship with TMRSS and SS, and the inverse association between consumption total FV and PS approached significance. Higher intakes of total FV, total vegetables, green leafy vegetables, dark yellow vegetables, other vegetables, and citrus fruit were also associated with higher US.
However, the authors note that more research is needed to confirm the findings.