Book a consultation

How the Mediterranean diet can help menopausal symptoms

What you eat now can affect everything from hot flushes to your future health

  • The Mediterranean diet has been proven to improve health and life expectancy
  • It also has specific benefits to women experiencing perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms
  • Discover the foods and meals to fill up on

By the time of the perimenopause, most women will have been on a diet of one sort or the other. We’ve heard all the claims before and have been there, counted the calories. But rather than a diet per se, the Mediterranean diet is a way of eating – it’s inspired by the way people traditionally eat in coastal Mediterranean countries, including Italy, Greece, Turkey, Spain and France.

Unlike many other diets, with their short-term focus on weight loss, the Mediterranean diet is simply about eating healthily and making this a long-term way of life.

What is the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet principally contains plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It also includes moderate amounts of dairy foods, eggs, fish, and poultry. There is then a limited amount of red meat and saturated fat, such as butter.

As it’s a more “natural” way of eating, this diet limits sugar, highly processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and processed meats. This means you’re eating more food in its natural form and don’t need to track down any special ingredients – they’re all readily available.

What are the benefits of the Mediterranean diet?

For many years now, the health of people living in southern European countries has been studied and it’s been found that those who eat a Mediterranean diet have a better life expectancy, lower rate of chronic disease, lower cancer rates and better heart health.

Research has shown that a traditional Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. There is data to suggest that it has a protective role against Parkinson’s disease onset and progression [1]. According to Alzheimer’s Society there is some evidence that eating a Mediterranean-style diet can reduce the risk of developing problems with memory and thinking, and getting some forms of dementia.

Can it help in menopause?

In short, yes! A review of observational studies and randomised trials on the effects of the Mediterranean diet on menopausal health found that if adhered to long-term, it can reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors, improve bone mineral density (even in women with osteoporosis), prevent against cognitive decline, reduce the risk of breast cancer, help prevent cognitive decline and reduce all-cause mortality [2].

With regards to hot flushes during the menopause, researchers found that of about 6,000 women who were followed for over nine years, those who ate a lot of strawberries, pineapple and melon and most closely followed a Mediterranean-style diet were about 20 per cent less likely to report symptoms [3].

There is also evidence that the severity of menopausal symptoms can be reduced by eating a Mediterranean diet. A study found that the intake of legumes and extra-virgin olive oil was associated with lower severity of total menopausal symptoms and psychological symptoms, respectively [4].

So, what foods should I eat?

These are the foods that should make up the bulk of your diet.

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Legumes, nuts and grains
  • Healthy fats and vinegars: the likes of extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar
  • Herbs and spices
  • Extras: olives, sesame seeds, tahini

These can be eaten in more moderate amounts

  • Dairy and cheese
  • Seafood (especially oily fish) and poultry (with limited red meat)

What can I drink?

Water and unsweetened drinks such as tea and coffee and fresh juice. Wine can be drunk in low to moderate amounts, as part of your meal.

What might a typical day look like?

Breakfast options can include the likes of:  

  • Yoghurt, nuts, seeds and fruit
  • Frittata – try spinach and feta or one packed with your favourite veggies
  • Tomato and avocado on toasted sourdough, or roast tomatoes, peppers add garlic and spices, and serve with kale and a poached egg
  • Oats, chopped apple and walnuts, add cinnamon and ginger
  • Wholegrain toast with peanut butter and a banana

Lunch options could be:

  • Nicoise salad
  • Vegetable soup such as minestrone
  • Greek salad
  • Grain bowl – add in your favourite salads/veggies, protein such as chicken or egg
  • Pasta salad or pasta puttanesca

Dinner options include:

  • Lemon and garlic chicken with feta and olives
  • Baked salmon parcels with veggies and grains
  • Fish stew
  • Roasted vegetable and halloumi traybake
  • Stuffed peppers

What about snacks and desserts?

You don’t need to forgo snacks but if you eat plenty at your main meals may not feel the need to snack as much. Mediterranean style snacks include homemade dips such as houmous and tzatziki, with crudites, wholewheat crackers or pitta; a handful of nuts; fuits; oatcakes with cottage cheese or peanut butter. For dessert, think Mediterranean and fruit based – so the likes of fruit salad, fruit crumble, baked pears, Greek yoghurt and berries, etc.


  1. Bisaglia M. (2022), ‘Mediterranean Diet and Parkinson’s Disease’, Int J Mol Sci. 24(1):42. doi: 10.3390/ijms24010042
  2. Cano A, Marshall S, Zolfaroli I, Bitzer J, Ceausu I, Chedraui P, Durmusoglu F, Erkkola R, Goulis DG, Hirschberg AL, Kiesel L, Lopes P, Pines A, van Trotsenburg M, Lambrinoudaki I, Rees M. (2020), ‘The Mediterranean diet and menopausal health: An EMAS position statement’. Maturitas. 139:90-97. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2020.07.001
  3. Gerrie-Cor M Herber-Gast, Gita D Mishra. (2013), ‘Fruit, Mediterranean-style, and high-fat and -sugar diets are associated with the risk of night sweats and hot flushes in midlife: results from a prospective cohort study’, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 97, Issue 5, pp 1092-1099,
  4. Vetrani C, Barrea L, Rispoli R, Verde L, De Alteriis G, Docimo A, Auriemma RS, Colao A, Savastano S, Muscogiuri G. (2022), ‘Mediterranean Diet: What Are the Consequences for Menopause?’, Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 25;13:886824. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2022.886824
How the Mediterranean diet can help menopausal symptoms

Looking for Menopause Doctor? You’re in the right place!

  1. We’ve moved to a bigger home at balance for Dr Louise Newson to host all her content.

You can browse all our evidence-based and unbiased information in the Menopause Library.