The Connection Between Estrogen and Cholesterol in Postmenopausal Women

Written by Veronica Yoo

Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in the blood that is essential for various body functions. However, excessive cholesterol levels can increase the risk of heart disease and other health issues. Postmenopause is the period after menopause, during which women experience several changes, including changes in cholesterol levels.

After menopause, women tend to have higher levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower levels of HDL (good cholesterol) than before. This shift in cholesterol balance is partly due to the decreased estrogen levels, which play a crucial role in regulating cholesterol levels in the body. Before menopause, women typically have higher levels of HDL and lower levels of LDL, partly due to estrogen.

Additionally, postmenopausal women may experience weight gain and a sedentary lifestyle, contributing to higher LDL levels. While estrogen helps regulate cholesterol levels, its decline during menopause increases the risk of heart disease.

Aside from estrogen, other factors like diet, exercise, and genetics affect cholesterol levels. Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that have estrogen-like effects and can potentially lower cholesterol levels, especially in postmenopausal women.

One way that phytoestrogens may help to lower cholesterol is by binding to bile acids in the gut. Bile acids are involved in the absorption of cholesterol from the diet, so when phytoestrogens bind to them, they make it more difficult for the body to absorb cholesterol. This can lead to lower levels of cholesterol in the blood.

In addition, some phytoestrogens may also help to increase the breakdown and excretion of cholesterol in the liver. This can further contribute to lower cholesterol levels in the body.

Examples of foods that are high in phytoestrogens include soy products (such as black/yellow soybeans, tofu, soy milk, and edamame), flaxseed, whole grains, and legumes, incorporating these foods into a healthy diet may have some benefits for cholesterol management.

Overall, by consuming phytoestrogenic foods, you may be able to lower your cholesterol levels by interfering with cholesterol absorption in the gut and increasing its excretion from the liver.

Isoflavones are a type of naturally occurring plant compound, also known as phytoestrogens, found in various foods, including soybeans, legumes, and some grains. They are structurally similar to the hormone estrogen and can mimic some of its effects in the body.

Isoflavones have been studied for their potential health benefits, including their ability to reduce the risk of certain diseases, such as heart disease, osteoporosis, and some types of cancer. They have also been studied for their potential to alleviate menopausal symptoms, due to their estrogen-like effects.

In soybeans, the most commonly studied isoflavones are genistein, daidzein, and glycitein. These isoflavones have been found to have cholesterol-lowering effects and are thought to play a role in the potential health benefits of soy consumption.

How to prepare and cook dry soybeans?

Here are the steps to prepare and cook dry soybeans:

  1. Rinse the soybeans in water and remove any debris or stones.
  2. Soak the soybeans in water overnight, or for at least 8-10 hours. This will help to soften the beans and reduce cooking time.
  3. Drain the soaked soybeans and rinse them again.
  4. Add the soybeans to a pot and cover with fresh water. Use a ratio of three cups of water for every one cup of soybeans.
  5. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot.
  6. Allow the soybeans to simmer for about 1-2 hours, or until they are tender. You can check for tenderness by tasting a few beans.
  7. Once the soybeans are tender, drain any remaining water and rinse them again.

At this point, you can use the cooked soybeans in various ways, such as in salads, soups, stir-fries, or as a protein-rich side dish. You can also store the cooked soybeans in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.

Note: Some recipes may call for pre-cooked or canned soybeans, which do not require soaking or lengthy cooking times. Be sure to follow the instructions for the specific recipe you are using.

Veronica Yoo

Veronica is dedicated and experienced nutritionist and certified health coach who specializes in functional medicine, She's a published author, nutritional instructor, WBFF professional figure athlete, and both the brains and beauty behind all that Makeover Nutrition offers.

Veronica is also the President & CEO of a BC based health and wellness association; Pacific Alliance of Body Care.