According to a new study from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, eating more vegetable protein may help prevent early menopause in women and prolong reproductive capabilities. So basically, if you want to ward off hot flashes and have babies late in life, start eating your tofu.
Foods like whole grains, soy products and tofu are highlighted as especially beneficial in warding off menopause; enriched pasta, dark bread and cold cereal were associated with especially low risk of early menopause. This translates to good news for pumpernickel lovers!
“A better understanding of how dietary vegetable protein intake is associated with ovarian aging may identify ways for women to modify their risk of early onset menopause and associated health conditions,” writes first author and then-graduate student Maegan Boutot, with her advisor, professor Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson.
Menopause is classified as “early” when it occurs before a woman is 40 years old, and there are a number of health risks associated with the cessation of menstruation. The cessation of menstruation can also lead to faster aging, signify exposure to toxins, increase risk of bone fractures and increase risk of heart disease.
Study participants in this case who were observed to consume “approximately 6.5 percent of their daily calories as vegetable protein” had a significantly lower risk of early menopause (a whopping 16 percent!) than women in the study who only ate vegetable protein amounting to approximately 4 percent of their daily caloric intake.
While this study is definitely good news for the plant-based eaters among us, the study authors warn that further research is required in order to confirm their findings. Future studies will also study the difference between soy-based plant proteins and non-soy vegetable proteins.
For now, though, it can’t hurt to go ahead and throw some veggie burgers on the barbecue this weekend.