Eating just one serving of red meat a day can increase women's risk of early onset menopause by 12 per cent, according to a new study - and eating more plant protein can reduce the risk.
The study, Indications that Veggie Protein May Stave Off Early Menopause, was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
It is estimated that between five and 10 per cent of American women are affected by early menopause, which has been linked to a number of negative health outcomes including increased risk of cardiovascular disease and premature mortality.
The study saw researchers study the dietary pattern of 85,682 women and discovered that premenopausal women who consumed the highest amount of vegetable protein - around 3-4 servings a day - reported a 16 per cent lower risk for early menopause compared with women who ate the lowest amounts in an adjusted model.
A one percent increase in plant-based protein amounted to a six percent decreased risk in early onset menopause.
They also discovered that conversely, consuming just one serving of red meat, led to a 12-percent increase in developing early onset menopause.
The study’s researchers concluded: "A better understanding of how dietary vegetable protein intake is associated with ovarian aging may identify ways for women to modify their risk of early onset of menopause and associated health conditions."