For the millions of women suffering from premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, every month, relief could come from a diet high in iron-rich plant foods.
A 10-year study published this week in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that women who ate diets full of plants rich in iron were about one-third less likely to develop PMS than women who consumed less iron.
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst used data from the Nurses Health Study II to assess the mineral intake of about 3,000 women aged 25 to 42 using food questionnaires.
But all iron didn't have the same effect. It was primarily the iron found in plant foods and in supplements, non-heme iron, that reduced a woman's chances of developing PMS. The heme iron coming from animal sources, such as red meat and poultry, did not have the same effect, the researchers say. After adjusting the data, the team found that the women who consumed the most non-heme iron had up to a 40 percent reduced risk of PMS compared to the women who consumed the least non-heme iron.
However, the researchers emphasize that a balance of minerals is key: "It does look like a range of minerals are important for menstrual cycle health and for PMS," says Bertone-Johnson. "Women should consume a balanced diet, and if they're not getting enough nutrients from their diet, they should take a multivitamin."
On Friday, fitness blog Blisstree chimed in with a list of ten iron-rich plant foods to add to your daily diet:
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