Foods For Menopause: 9 Best Foods To Help Menopause

10 best foods to help with menopause

If you’re looking for ways to manage your menopause symptoms, focus on your eating habits. Being thoughtful about nutrition can help with your symptoms, including hot flashes, bloating, mood swings, and weight gain. Here are 9 types of foods that can help. 

Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents
    foods for menopause calcium

    “Food as medicine” during the menopause journey

    You can’t stop menopause or aging, but you can take control of how you feel rather than having the symptoms control you.

    Yet, we found women+ often underestimate their power or aren’t informed about the healing benefits of food – “food as medicine.”
     
    Women+ in our pausitive health survey told us they wished they knew more about food’s effect on reducing menopausal symptoms.
     
    Weight gain is a common problem, particularly during midlife and the menopause. If you focus on portion size, calories, nutrients, and physical activity before your metabolism slows down, you’ll be in better shape to handle any potential weight gain. 
     
    What you do today affects how you will feel ten years from now. When you eat the right combination of foods, you can slow down the aging process, reduce your risk for many chronic conditions, and increase the quality of your life.
     
    You can also reduce or potentially eliminate hot flashes by choosing the right foods for menopause. The menopause journey is a marathon, so the earlier you prepare or take action, the better off you’ll be. 
     
    During the menopause journey, women+ need foods packed with the right combination of vitamins, minerals/antioxidants, calories, fat, and fiber to help manage their symptoms. 
     
    You can jump to the section that interests you and also get a list of foods to eat during the menopause journey. Or you can start from the beginning and make your way through.
     
    Although you can take a multivitamin, it’s usually better to get vitamins from food instead of a pill whenever possible. (However, for those 60 or older, a 2023 study found a multivitamin helped improve memory, particularly if they had cardiovascular disease.)
    The foods come from scientific studies, research into the proven benefits of food on aging, and anecdotal evidence from women across the globe. Unlike the United States, in many parts of the world, especially in Asia, menopause-related symptoms are less severe than in the United States.
    woman in hijab eating healthy foods

    Fruits and vegetables to eat in menopause

    Fruits and vegetables are staples of almost every healthy lifestyle. They offer so many benefits like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, they’re low in fat and calories.
     
    The sweetness of fruits can help with sweet-tooth cravings, commonly impacted by hormonal changes. They’re a better alternative to candy or other sweets.
     
    Most importantly, research shows eating lots of fruits and vegetables can improve your bone health.
     
    You naturally lose bone mass as you age, and osteoporosis is a concern for post-menopausal women, affecting 30% of white women+ according to World Health Organization criteria that only consider white women.
     
    Women+ of color can experience different menopausal symptoms. While the incidence of osteoporosis in African American women is half that of white women, Black women are still at risk for osteoporosis. In fact, Black women experience worse outcomes after a hip injury or fracture.
     
    Up to 75% of Black Americans are also lactose intolerant, which can prevent them from getting enough vitamin D.
     
    Osteoporosis makes your bones weak and increases the risk of falls and fractures. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, half of all adults aged 50 and older are at risk for breaking a bone. In fact, women+ are more likely to break a bone than the combined risk of getting breast cancer or having a heart attack or stroke.
     
    In addition to the bone benefits of eating lots of fruits and vegetables, they’re also full of antioxidants that help your body lower inflammation and maintain a healthy weight. Dark green leafy vegetables and brightly-colored fruits are best.
     
    You’ve probably heard that you should “eat the rainbow.”
     
    A dietician at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital recommends focusing on the following fruits and vegetables for the most benefit to your health.
     
    • Spinach
    • Kale
    • Broccoli
    • Bell peppers
    • Eggplant
    • Tomatoes
    • Carrots
    • Mango
    • Cherries
    • Berries
    • Apples
    • Bananas 
    calcium rich foods for menopause

    Best source of calcium

    In addition to fruits and vegetables, calcium also lowers your risk of osteoporosis. The amount recommended can depend on the expert you consult, as recommendations vary worldwide. In the United States, the recommended daily intake is 1200-1500 mg a day for women+ 50 and over.
     
    The World Health Organization recommends less than half of that, with just 500 mg of calcium per day for post-menopausal women+ eating a low animal protein diet.
     
    That’s a big difference! Before you consider taking “extra” calcium, know that researchers found taking more calcium doesn’t necessarily reduce your risk of breaking a bone if you’re post-menopausal. It can increase your chance of getting kidney stones, so there remains controversy about the extent to which calcium is needed and the possible benefits.
     
    Most calcium-rich foods include milk, yogurt, and several cheese varieties. While most people think of milk as an excellent calcium source, greens and beans are better sources. Except for spinach, your body absorbs calcium in greens better than milk.
     
    Even a glass of calcium-fortified orange juice is better than milk, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
     

    Calcium-rich foods

    Some of the foods which have the most calcium can also be fatty. So, keep that in mind when you’re thinking about your entire menopause diet.
     
    These are foods packed with calcium:
     
    • Parmesan cheese
    • Mozzarella cheese
    • Cheddar cheese
    • Skim and reduced-fat milk
    • Yogurt
    • Soymilk
    • Ricotta cheese
    • Cottage cheese
    • Swiss cheese
    • Feta
    These have the highest amounts of calcium overall, but they’re not your only option.
     
    We’ve also created lists of other calcium-rich foods by food category.
     
    Calcium-rich fruit and vegetables
     
    • Navel orange
    • Guava
    • Mustard spinach
    • Chinese cabbage, bok choy
    • Kale
    • Turnip greens
    • Broccoli
    • Brussel sprouts
    • Butternut squash
    • Celery
    • Collard greens
    • Sweet potato
    • Onion
    • Sweet yellow pepper
    Calcium in grains
     
    • Tortilla, corn
    • Oatmeal
    • Whole-grain bread and cereals
    Calcium in beans
     
    • Chickpeas
    • Black beans
    • Great northern beans
    • Kidney beans
    • Lentils
    • Lima beans
    • Navy beans
    • Pinto beans
    • Soybeans
    • Vegetarian baked beans
    • Cannellini beans
    Fish
     
    • Salmon
    • Shrimp
    Fortified foods
     
    • Fortified ready-to-eat cereals
    • Calcium-fortified orange juice
    Other foods
     
    • Tofu
    • Sardines
    • Non-dairy milk like almond milk
    • Figs
    • Raisins
    For more details on the amount of calcium in each food, look at the USDA Dietary Guidelines for calcium.

    If you have osteoporosis, calcium is a critical nutrient for bone health. You can use this chart from the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

    You may also like…

    Foods for menopause vitamin D

    Vitamin D and menopause

    While eating calcium-rich foods will help bone health, you also need vitamin D. It helps your body absorb calcium.
     
    As you age, your body converts less vitamin D, so menopausal women should add vitamin D rich foods to their diet or take a vitamin.
     
    Doctors recommend 800 to 1000 IU of vitamin D a day, once you’re over age 71. Below 71, it’s recommended you get 600 IU. However, it is helpful to get your vitamin D levels checked, as 8% of the American population is vitamin D deficient and another 24% are at risk for vitamin D “inadequacy.” African Americans and Mexican Americans have a higher rate of vitamin deficiency than the white population.
     
    Finding the right combination of calcium and vitamin D is important. Dr. Walter Willett, Chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, recommends going lower on calcium and higher on vitamin D. For example, a good combination for some might be 500-700 mg of calcium and 800 to 1000 IU of vitamin D.
     
    If you eat a well-balanced diet, you can get most of your calcium from food without supplementing it. Have a serving or two of dairy daily to reach the recommended daily intake. Milk is easier to consume, but remember, greens provide more calcium than milk.
     
    For vitamin D, Dr. Willett recommends taking a supplement. Very few foods contain enough vitamin D to reach the recommended levels. And don’t forget sun exposure is another way to get vitamin D as well, but precautions need to be taken to avoid damage to the skin and risk of skin cancer.

     

    Foods rich in vitamin D

    These foods, sorted by food group, are a good start to increasing vitamin D in your diet.

    Meat, poultry, fish & eggs
     
    • Flesh of fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel
    • Rainbow trout
    • Swordfish
    • Fish liver oils
    • Egg yolks
    • Beef liver
    Dairy
     
    • Cheese
    • Low-fat milk
    • Fortified soy, almond, or oat milk
    • Yogurt
    Other foods
     
    • Fortified orange juice
    • Mushrooms
    By far, fish offers more vitamin D than most other foods. You have a variety to choose from according to the USDA Dietary Guidelines. The next best food to eat is mushrooms.
     

    Fortified foods

    What are fortified foods? They’re foods with added nutrients to improve the nutritional quality and provide a public health benefit.

    Very few foods naturally contain enough vitamin D, so it’s difficult to reach the daily recommendations.

    According to the National Institutes of Health, most of the vitamin D you consume comes from fortified foods.
     
    For example, manufacturers fortify most milk with 100 IU of vitamin D per cup. It’s also commonly found in soy, almond, and oat milk, ready-to-eat breakfast cereal, and some brands of orange juice and yogurt.
    lean protein chicken and brussel sprouts

    Lean Protein

    Combined with physical activity, lean protein can help fortify muscle mass and strength, which decrease as you age. You’ll get some protein from vegetables, especially from foods like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, greens, and cauliflower.
     
    These foods are high in lean protein:
     
    Meat, poultry, fish & eggs
     
    • Most types of fish, including salmon
    • Poultry
    • Egg Whites
    • Shellfish
    • Tuna
    Dairy
     
    • Greek yogurt
    Nuts & grains
     
    • Nuts, unsalted
    • Seeds, unsalted
    • Oats
    Vegetables
     
    • Brussel sprouts
    • Broccoli
    • Greens
    • Cauliflower
    • Spinach
    • Asparagus
    Beans
     
    • Legumes
    • Lentils
    • Edamame
    • White beans
    • Cranberry beans
    • Pinto beans
    • Kidney beans
    • Black beans
    • Lima beans
    Best foods for menopause

    Examples of whole grains

    Heart disease is the number one killer for women, and there’s an increase in heart attacks in the years after menopause, according to the American Heart Association. It’s thought a decrease in estrogen in post-menopausal women may be one factor in this heart risk. Since it’s not the only reason your heart attack risk increases, a healthy lifestyle is considered one of the best ways to lower the likelihood of developing heart disease.
     
    Whole grains provide a lot of fiber and are considered heart-healthy. Consider adding these whole-grain foods to your shopping list:
     
    • Brown rice
    • Black rice
    • Barley
    • Quinoa
    • Steel-cut oatmeal
    • Buckwheat
    • Whole-wheat bread
    • Chapatti (Roti)
    • Millet
    While you may not be surprised by rice since it’s an everyday staple of Asian nutrition where menopausal symptoms are reportedly less, other whole grains are also part of their diet. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat and are common in Japan. Thousands of years before rice, Asians ate millet. Chapatti is another option. It’s unleavened flatbread found in India.
    Best foods for menopause vegetables

    List of high-fiber foods

    Want to lose weight during the menopause journey? Eat high-fiber foods. In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, dietary fiber was a predictor of weight loss, independent of macronutrient and calorie intake.
     
    If there’s one food group to focus on, it’s fiber. It’s thought most Americans don’t get enough fiber. The American Heart Association recommends at least 25 grams a day for the average 2,000 calorie diet. Beans and ready-to-eat cereal offer the highest amounts of fiber, with just over 9 grams.
     
    Fiber also helps regulate your blood sugar and lower cholesterol. It also aids in digestion, specifically bowel movements. Fiber also makes you feel full longer, which is a great benefit if you’re dealing with menopausal weight gain.
     
    If you’re increasing your fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you’re also increasing your fiber intake. Several fruits have fiber in the skin, so make sure you don’t peel your apple or pear and spend the dollars if you can on organic.
     

    Consult the U.S.D.A. Dietary Guidelines for the amount of fiber in each food. Try these fiber-rich foods during the menopause journey:

    Fruits & Vegetables

    • Spinach
    • Broccoli
    • Artichokes
    • Prunes
    • Carrots
    • Avocados
    • Figs
    • Pear, with skin
    • Okra
    • Apple, with skin
    • Peas
    • Raspberries
    • Blackberries
    • Collards
    • Brussel sprouts
    • Bananas
    • Potato
    • Orange
    Whole Grains
     
    • Brown rice
    • Oatmeal
    • Whole-wheat bread
    • Quinoa
    • Whole-wheat spaghetti
    Nuts & Seeds
     
    • Flaxseeds
    • Chia seeds
    • Pumpkin seeds
    • Pecans
    • Pistachios
    • Peanuts
    Other foods
     
    • Beans
    • Chickpeas
    • Yogurt
    • Popcorn
    • Dates
    • High-fiber ready-to-eat cereal
    foods high in omega-3 fatty acides

    What foods have omega-3 fatty acids?

    Omega-3 lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) and the risk of heart disease. Since women are at more risk for heart disease post-menopause, omega-3 fatty acids should be an important part of your diet.
     
    Fish is the most well-known food source of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s a staple of the Mediterranean diet, which has proven to slow down the aging process.
     
    While any fish might help, cold-water fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel) are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
     
    You can also find omega-3 fatty acids in olive oil, another staple of the Mediterranean diet.
     
    It’s also thought some fish can delay the age of menopause onset.

    Snacks: nuts and seeds

    Need a healthy snack during the menopause journey? Grab nuts or seeds. Nuts can be high-calorie, so don’t overdo it, but many types can be a source of good fat.
     
    Many varieties are also considered “superfoods” due to their numerous benefits. For example, flaxseeds are loaded with fiber, plus they contain estrogen-like compounds which may help with hormonal fluctuations.
     
    Healthy nuts to eat during the menopause journey:
     
    • Walnuts
    • Pumpkin seeds
    • Almonds
    • Sunflower seeds
    • Soy nuts (roasted soybeans)
    In a study of 60 post-menopausal women, women made therapeutic lifestyle changes and ate soy nuts three or four times a day. The women saw up to a 45 decrease in hot flashes.
     
    Those who had more than 4.5 hot flashes a day saw a 45 percent decrease in symptoms, and women with less than 4.5 hot flashes a day saw a 41% reduction with the nutrition plan.
     
    However, there’s conflicting evidence on the benefit of soy and isoflavones for menopausal women and some concern for those with a personal and/or history of breast cancer.

    Plant-based estrogen

    Many menopausal women+ focus on plant-based nutrition. Asian women who primarily eat these foods report fewer menopause symptoms than in the Western world. However, there’s conflicting research on the benefits of plant-based estrogen.
     
    In an analysis of 62 studies involving 6653 women, hot flashes and vaginal dryness decreased modestly from soy isoflavones found in foods like tofu, miso, and natto (fermented soybeans). Isoflavones are a type of plant-based estrogen.
     
    There’s further research that vegans have less bothersome hot flashes, further fueling the plant-based food debate.
     
    Plant-based foods include many of the ones listed above, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. In addition, eat plant-based estrogens like isoflavones. These foods include soy products and tofu.

    Water

    Water is always a good choice, but especially during the menopause journey when you’re dealing with dry skin and vaginal dryness.
     
    Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
     
    An ice-cold glass of water can also cool you down if you’re experiencing hot flashes.
     

    Cooling foods

    Think about how you feel when you eat certain foods. That cup of cold water brings about a cooling effect when you’re hot, sweaty, or feeling flushed.
     
    Also, think about what your body craves on a hot or cold day. Do you find yourself grabbing a cup of soup or a hot beverage during the winter and an ice-cold drink during the summer?
     
    Certain foods have a warming and cooling effect on the body, even if they’re not heated or cooled by ice. In Chinese Medicine, these are called “cooling foods.” They can be beneficial for hot flashes.
     
    Apples and bananas are common cooling foods. Celery, melons, and cucumber can also cool the body.
     
    That’s why hot foods like coffee or spicy foods are often on the list of foods to avoid during menopause, especially if you experience hot flashes.
     

    Healthy eating during the menopause journey

    Many women+ silently suffer during the menopause journey. Now is the time to take action and avoid being a member of the silent majority! Even those with extreme symptoms can help mitigate them. Prepare your body early, surround yourself with support from family, friends, and your medical team,, and find ways to reduce your stress. Think of menopause like a marathon and make it a time of self-empowerment.
     
    The good news – you can naturally improve your life by “simply” adjusting the foods you eat.
     
    This pausitive health menopause grocery list is a handy guide to hang on your refrigerator or put in your reusable shopping bag. It helps you focus on the beneficial foods to purchase when you’re buying groceries.
    Shopping List Download

    Make A Change For The Better!

    This menopause grocery list contains a combination of foods specifically selected to help you feel better today and even better in the future.

    Please send the following:(Required)
    Aim for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, vitamin C and D, and fiber. If you’re curious about any food, you can look it up in the USDA’s FoodData Central to get information on each nutrient.
     
    Healthy eating during the hormonal transition not only helps the number on the scale but impacts how you feel too. It also puts you at less risk for chronic health conditions like high cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
    menopause journey community mockup

    Join the community!

    LEARN • SHARE • LAUGH • BOND

    The menopause journey community is a private online community powered by pausitive health. It’s a safe space for women+ to connect, learn, share, laugh, and bond through their menopause journey.

    It’s free to join! We hope to see you there.

    Lok-Kin Yeung, Daniel M. Alschuler, Melanie Wall, Heike Luttmann-Gibson, Trisha Copeland, Christiane Hale, Richard P. Sloan, Howard D. Sesso, JoAnn E. Manson, Adam M. Brickman. Multivitamin Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults: A Randomized Clinical Trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 118, Issue 1, 2023, Pages 273-282, ISSN 0002-9165. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajcnut.2023.05.011

    Hardcastle AC, Aucott L, Fraser WD, Reid DM, Macdonald HM. Dietary patterns, bone resorption and bone mineral density in early post-menopausal Scottish women. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011 Mar;65(3):378-85. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2010.264. Epub 2010 Dec 22. PMID: 21179049.

    Bohannon AD. Osteoporosis and African American women. J Womens Health Gend Based Med. 1999 Jun;8(5):609-15. doi: 10.1089/jwh.1.1999.8.609. PMID: 10839646.

    Osteoporosis Fast Facts | National Osteoporosis Foundation

    Lactose Intolerance | National Library of Medicine

    Osteoporosis: The Risk Factors for Black Women | National Council on Aging

    What To Eat (or Not) During Menopause | Henry Ford Health

    How much calcium do you really need? | The President and Fellows of Harvard College

    Raymond-Lezman JR, Riskin SI. Benefits and Risks of Sun Exposure to Maintain Adequate Vitamin D Levels. Cureus. 2023 May 5;15(5):e38578. doi: 10.7759/cureus.38578. PMID: 37284402; PMCID: PMC10239563.

    Calcium and Strong Bones | Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

    Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 and Online Materials | Dietary Guidelines for Americans

    How likely are Americans to be deficient in vitamins or minerals? | ConsumerLab.com

    Food fortification | World Health Organization

    Vitamin D | National Institutes of Health

    Menopause and Heart Disease | American Heart Association

    Whole Grains in the Asian Diet | OldWays Whole Grains Council

    Miketinas DC, Bray GA, Beyl RA, Ryan DH, Sacks FM, Champagne CM. Fiber Intake Predicts Weight Loss and Dietary Adherence in Adults Consuming Calorie-Restricted Diets: The POUNDS Lost (Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies) Study. J Nutr. 2019 Oct 1;149(10):1742-1748. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxz117. PMID: 31174214; PMCID: PMC6768815.

    Top 23 High-Fiber Foods and the Benefits of Each | Dr. Axe

    Welty FK, Lee KS, Lew NS, Nasca MM, Zhou JR. The association between soy nut consumption and decreased menopausal symptoms. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2007 Apr;16(3):361-9. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2006.0207. PMID: 17439381; PMCID: PMC3229924.

    Nutrition and healthy eating | Mayo Clinic

    Menopausal Symptoms and Complementary Health Approaches: What the Science Says | National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

    Beezhold B, Radnitz C, McGrath RE, Feldman A. Vegans report less bothersome vasomotor and physical menopausal symptoms than omnivores. Maturitas. 2018 Jun;112:12-17. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2018.03.009. Epub 2018 Mar 14. PMID: 29704911.

    FoodData Central | U.S. Department of Agriculture

    You may also like…

    The content on the Website is for informational purposes only. Personal Insight, MD, LLC dba pausitive health does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor recommend or endorse any specific tests, medical professionals, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Learn more.

    Scroll to Top