Diet to Reduce the Metabolic Syndrome Associated with Menopause. The Logic for Olive Oil.

Nutrients. 2020;12(10)
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Plain language summary

Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a group of risk factors that increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The rates of MetS are increasing worldwide. Obesity, particularly central obesity is a major determinant of insulin resistance. It is believed that insulin resistance is the driver for MetS. This is a particular concern for women as central obesity is more likely to occur during the menopause, due in part to the hormonal changes. Physical activity and nutrition have been recommended as the first line of defence against MetS with the Mediterranean diet (MD) being one of the healthiest options. Olive oil (OO) is a main component of the MD and contains certain fats and polyphenols which impact inflammation, oxidative stress and support the gut microbiome. This review provides an overview of these benefits most relevant to menopause-associated MetS. A healthy lifestyle, with nutrition as a vital component, needs to be implemented as a primary measure. The healthy diet needs to be easy to follow and effective, two conditions successfully met by the MD. OO may prove especially helpful for women, particularly during this life stage. The clinical evidence, however, is limited by the observational nature of most studies.


The rates of metabolic syndrome are increasing in parallel with the increasing prevalence of obesity, primarily due to its concomitant insulin resistance. This is particularly concerning for women, as the years around menopause are accompanied by an increase in visceral obesity, a strong determinant of insulin resistance. A fall in estrogens and increase in the androgen/estrogen ratio is attributed a determining role in this process, which has been confirmed in other physiological models, such as polycystic ovary syndrome. A healthy lifestyle, with special emphasis on nutrition, has been recommended as a first-line strategy in consensuses and guidelines. A consistent body of evidence has accumulated suggesting that the Mediterranean diet, with olive oil as a vital component, has both health benefits and acceptable adherence. Herein, we provide an updated overview of current knowledge on the benefits of olive oil most relevant to menopause-associated metabolic syndrome, including an analysis of the components with the greatest health impact, their effect on basic mechanisms of disease, and the state of the art regarding their action on the main features of metabolic syndrome.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Hormonal ; Immune and inflammation
Patient Centred Factors : Mediators/Menopause
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Physical exercise
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition ; Exercise and movement
Functional Laboratory Testing : Not applicable
Bioactive Substances : Polyphenols ; Monounsaturated fatty acids

Methodological quality

Jadad score : Not applicable
Allocation concealment : Not applicable
Publication Type : Journal Article ; Review


Nutrition Evidence keywords : Inflammation ; Oxidative stress ; Insulin resistance