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Consuming More Vegetable Protein May Protect Against Early Menopause

Early menopause is when a woman’s ovaries stop functioning before age 45. It is associated with a higher risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and early cognitive decline. A recent study suggests that eating more vegetable protein may protect women from early menopause and lengthen the length of reproductive function.


Participants in the study included around 116,000 women who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study. All of the women were between ages 25 and 42 when they joined the study in 1989. The study included a food frequency questionnaire, which asked the women how often they consumed a single serving of 131 foods, beverages, and supplements over the previous year. During the 20-year follow-up period, 2,041 women experienced early menopause.


After examining the data, the researchers found that women who consumed 6.5% of their daily calories as vegetable protein were 16% less likely to experience early menopause, compared with women who consumed 4% of their daily calories as vegetable protein. The amount needed to meet 6.5% was approximately three to four servings of foods such as nuts, enriched pasta, breakfast cereal, quinoa, and tofu.


Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the University of Massachusetts Amherts led the study. It was published online ahead of print on June 24, 2017, in the American Journal of Epidemiology.


Increasing consumption of vegetable protein has been linked with lower blood pressure, lowered risk of heart disease, longer life, and a more balanced cholesterol profile. Vegetable proteins include tofu, nuts, enriched pasta, breakfast cereal, quinoa, and broccoli.

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