BOSTON: Eating high amounts of whole grains, soy, tofu and other foods rich in vegetable proteins may prevent early menopause and prolong reproductive function in women, a study claims.
Researchers also found that consuming enriched pasta, dark bread and cold cereal were especially associated with lower risk, while they observed no similar relation to eating animal sources of protein.
“A better understanding of how dietary vegetable protein intake is associated with ovarian ageing may identify ways for women to modify their risk of early onset menopause and associated health conditions,” said Maegan Boutot from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the US
Researchers evaluated the relationship between diet and risk of early menopause among members of the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS2), an ongoing prospective study of 116,000 women aged 25-42.
Participants were asked to report how often they ate a single serving of about 131 foods, beverages and supplements over the previous year, from “never or less than once a month” to “over 6 per day.”
Researchers observed that women consuming about 6.5 per cent of their daily calories as vegetable protein had a significant 16 per cent lower risk of early menopause compared to women whose intake was approximately four per cent of calories.
For a woman with a 2,000 calorie per day diet, this is equal to three to four servings of such foods as enriched pasta, breakfast cereal, tofu and nuts, or about 32.5 grammes a day.
“Though relatively few women in our study consumed very high levels of vegetable protein and our power for analyses of more extreme intake levels was limited, women consuming nine or more per cent of their calories from vegetable protein had a hazard ratio of 0.41,” Boutot said.
The study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.