Plant protein sources protect against early menopause

Plant sources of protein, unlike high-protein animal foods, have many health benefits. According to various studies, they protect against type 2 diabetes and cancer and reduce the risk of death. In another study, it was shown that women who preferred a long-term diet of plant-based foods, consuming plenty of whole grains, soy and tofu, were more likely to prevent early menopause than women who preferred meat, milk and Co.

Autor: Dr. med. W. Tönnes 


Plant proteins prevent early menopause

A plant-based nutrition has a very positive effect on health. We had already explained here that preferring plant proteins to animal protein sources can reduce the risk of diabetes: Plant-based protein protects against type 2 diabetes

Also, a plant-based nutrition can clearly protect against cancer and premature death, while a nutrition rich in animal proteins significantly increases the risk of both and can therefore be considered as harmful as smoking.

In June 2017, another study appeared that showed how healthy a plant-based nutrition is. Epidemiologists at the University of Massachusetts and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health wrote that a long-term high intake of protein-rich plant-based foods such as whole grains, soy, and tofu may prevent women from early menopause and prolong fertile life. A similar association was not found in women who incorporated many animal protein sources into their nutrition.


The risks of early menopause

About 10 percent of all women are affected by menopause that begins too early. “Too early” means before age 45. Early menopause is therefore considered unfavorable because it is associated with a higher risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

A 2014 French study also found, based on 4868 participants, that women who had entered menopause early did not have as good cognitive function as women who had entered menopause at an average age of 50. The former could not express themselves as eloquently, had lower visual memory and had poorer coordination between the brain and muscles. Therefore, the later one enters menopause, the better – at least with regard to the aforementioned risks.

Until now, there have been few studies that have examined the relationship between protein consumption and the onset of menopause. However, for women who want to prevent too early menopause, it might be interesting to know how they could influence the aging process of their ovaries with the type of nutrition they eat, study authors Maegan Boutot and Professor Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson wrote in the June 2017 online issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The more plant proteins, the lower the risk

Boutot, Bertone-Johnson and colleagues used data from the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS2), a prospective study of 116,000 women who were between 25 and 42 years old at the start of the study in 1989.

It found that women who consumed about 6.5 percent of their daily caloric intake in the form of plant proteins had a 16 percent lower risk of early menopause than women who consumed only 4 percent of their caloric intake in protein-rich plant foods. For women who consumed even more plant-based protein sources (9 percent of their daily caloric intake), the risk dropped even further.

So how many grams of plant protein sources and, more importantly, which plant protein sources would one need to eat to reach the 6.5 percent of daily caloric intake mentioned above?

How many grams of vegetable protein sources are required

So, for example, if a woman consumes 2,000 kcal per day, 6.5 percent equals about 32.5 grams of protein, which she can eat in the form of tofu, legumes or nuts, for example. Tofu contains – depending on the variety – around 13 grams of protein per 100 grams, almonds contain 22 grams of protein, hazelnuts 12 grams and pasta made from legumes (e.g. lentil and lupine) just under 30 grams.

So to get 32.5 grams of protein from the protein sources mentioned as examples, it would be enough to eat 100 grams of tofu, 20 grams of almonds and 50 grams of lentil pasta.


Plant proteins do not only protect against early menopause

However, plant proteins do not only protect against early menopause. Soy products in particular have other benefits to offer in this regard.

In October 2016, for example, a study showed that soy protein, if eaten regularly at an early age, can prevent bone loss in animals during adulthood. It is reasonable to assume that this effect could also occur in humans.

In addition, those who like to eat tofu or the like regularly from a young age can expect a lower risk of breast cancer later on.

Another advantage of vegetable proteins in the form of soy concerns fertility: If couples try in vain to become pregnant, this could be due to exposure to the plasticizer BPA. However, if the woman concerned now consumes more soy products, then soy apparently protects against the negative effects of BPA and improves the success rate of fertility treatments.


Note on health topics

This information is provided in good faith. It is intended exclusively for interested parties and for further education and is in no way to be understood as diagnostic or therapeutic instructions. We accept no liability for damages of any kind arising directly or indirectly from the use of the information. In case of suspected illnesses, please consult your doctor.



University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “Eating more vegetable protein may protect against early menopause: Study shows modest but significant lower risk.” ScienceDaily, 26. Juni 2017.

J.-R. Chen, O. P. Lazarenko, M. L. Blackburn, K. Shankar.Dietary factors during early life program bone formation in female rats.The FASEB Journal, 2016.

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. “Soy protein early in life may help prevent bone loss in adulthood.” ScienceDaily, 14. Oktober 2016.

J Ryan, J Scali, I Carrire, H Amieva, O Rouaud, C Berr, K Ritchie, M-L Ancelin.Impact of a premature menopause on cognitive function in later life.BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 2014.

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