ORANGES AND OVARIES
Many women are concerned about heading prematurely into perimenopause, or the phase of life when progesterone begins to wane and menstrual cycles become irregular. However, there is some indication that the foods you eat may influence the decline of ovaries. A study with 1,146 pre-menopausal women followed up for an average of 12.5 years using a self-reported food frequency questionnaire found that the onset of natural menopause was correlated with dietary intake of the carotenoid pigment, β-cryptoxanthin (p < 0.001), and fruit ( p = 0.01), even after adjusting for other factors (e.g., parity, BMI, physical activity level, education, smoking, energy, and alcohol intake). Statistically, both β-cryptoxanthin and fruit intake were associated with a significant delay in the onset of natural menopause. The researchers concluded that “a diet containing ∼400 micrograms of β-cryptoxanthin per day from fruits (mandarins, oranges, and peaches) has significant potential to delay ovarian senescence by 1.3 years.”
If you were to eat more of these orange fruits, how much would you need to hit the 400 microgram target?
Here are the amounts of beta-cryptoxanthin in certain foods:
- A persimmon — about 2,400 micrograms
- A large tangerine — about 488 micrograms
- Tangerine juice is even higher than a tangerine at 529 micrograms in 1 cup
- One orange — about 170 micrograms
Therefore, if you are eating and drinking from a wide array of orange fruits on a daily basis, you could surely meet the 400 microgram goal!
(2016) Influence of nutrition on the decline of ovarian reserve and subsequent onset of natural menopause, Human Fertility, 19:3, 173-179,
ORANGES AND EYE HEALTH
Oranges are full of many different nutrients that may help to protect against the leading cause of vision loss, macular degeneration. A study from the Westmead Institute for Medical Research followed over 2,000 Australians adults over 50 years old for 15 years. They tabulated their dietary intake and took retinal photographs. Findings revealed that those who ate one serving of oranges daily compared with those individuals who ate none reduced their risk of late macular degeneration by more than 60%.
Lead researcher, Bamini Gopinath, stated, “Even eating an orange once a week seems to offer significant benefits. The data shows that flavonoids found in oranges appear to help protect against the disease.”
It appeared that the flavonoid content of oranges was significant, although when the researchers looked at the intake of other flavonoid-containing foods, they didn’t see the same reduced risk that the oranges provided.
This study is a great demonstration of why we need to focus on the “whole food” rather than thinking that there is only one important active in a food that has health benefit.
Reference: Bamini Gopinath, Gerald Liew, Annette Kifley, Victoria M Flood, Nichole Joachim, Joshua R Lewis, Jonathan M Hodgson, Paul Mitchell (2018). Dietary flavonoids and the prevalence and 15-y incidence of age-related macular degeneration. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy114
CITRUS FRUITS AND RISK OF ENDOMETRIOSIS
Endometriosis is a painful condition of the female reproductive organs that can result in heavy bleeding, scarring, fatigue, infertility, and more.
A study published in April 2018 using data collected from 70,835 premenopausal women has examined if there is a connection between fruit and vegetable consumption and endometriosis. While there didn’t appear to be an association between total vegetable intake and risk of endometriosis, citrus fruits were associated with a lower risk of the disease. Based on data from food frequency questionnaires every four years between 1991 to 2013, women consuming ≥1 servings of citrus fruits per day had a 22% lower endometriosis risk compared to those consuming <1 serving per week.
The researchers concluded, “Our findings suggest that a higher intake of fruits, particularly citrus fruits, is associated with a lower risk of endometriosis, and beta-cryptoxanthin in these foods may partially explain this association.”