Menopause

Estrogen-Rich Foods to Eat During Menopause

Team PeanutTeam Peanut6 months ago6 min read

If you’re confused by the topic of estrogen-rich foods, you are not alone. There’s a lot of conflicting info out there that can leave you hungry for clarity. Should you add foods high in estrogen to your shopping list—or cross them off?

Estrogen-Rich Foods to Eat During Menopause

Let’s explore the muddy waters of high estrogen foods.

In this article: 📝

  • Foods with estrogen: the lowdown
  • What happens when estrogen levels are low?
  • What happens when estrogen levels are high?
  • What foods have the most estrogen?
  • What foods decrease estrogen levels? And what foods increase them?

Foods with estrogen: the lowdown

Estrogen (AKA the female sex hormone) plays a key role in your reproductive health.

When you go through puberty, estrogen helps kick your period into gear and project-manages the growth of hair in some interesting new places.

It then continues to support your reproductive system for years to come. But its job doesn’t stop there.

Estrogen also helps in other areas, such as cholesterol control and bone health.

When your estrogen levels are too high or too low, your health and wellbeing can be affected.

What happens when estrogen levels are low?

There are several reasons your estrogen levels can take a dip.

Health conditions that impact your thyroid, ovaries, or pituitary gland can all be responsible for low levels of estrogen. But the most common reason for decreasing levels? Simply getting older.

During perimenopause—the time around when your period takes its final bow—your estrogen levels fluctuate, ultimately dropping very low.

This change can affect your body in various ways, often causing a range of symptoms—the most notorious of which is the ‘hot flash’. Low levels can also impact your mood, sleep, and sex drive.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, getting those estrogen levels up can feel like a serious priority.

That’s why Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is appropriate for some people.

What happens when estrogen levels are high?

There are also some cases where your estrogen levels may be too high.

This can cause symptoms like irregular periods, constipation, and depression.

High estrogen levels are linked to several health concerns, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), uterine and breast cancer, and heart disease.

So that brings us to the question of the moment. Can you either increase or decrease your estrogen levels by eating foods that are high in estrogen?

Well, the truth is, it’s complicated.

What foods have the most estrogen?

Some foods contain a compound called phytoestrogen (basically plant estrogen).

These foods have the capacity to mimic the estrogen produced by your body. Seems like an interesting option if you’re looking to impact your estrogen supplies.

The first thing to know is that phytoestrogen can have both estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects on your body.

That means that there are foods that could increase estrogen and foods that could decrease it.

The problem is, there is a lot of contradictory evidence on how much of an impact phytoestrogen actually has on your estrogen levels.

This study, for example, showed that phytoestrogen may help with hot flashes, while this study cast some serious shade on using them as “natural” alternatives to HRT.

Claims made that phytoestrogen can help out with bone health by balancing your estrogen levels are also not conclusive.

With all that contention in mind, let’s take a look at what we know about foods that contain phytoestrogen—as well as what kind of impact they might have.

What foods decrease estrogen levels? And what foods increase them?

(Actually, some foods can do both.)

Here are the major players:

Soy products

A protein staple for many on a vegetarian or vegan diet, soy products contain compounds called isoflavone. These may act as phytoestrogen and could have both estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects.

But this topic is not without its controversy. Some claim that soy helps with menopause symptoms, while others say it may be linked to breast cancer, thyroid problems, and dementia.

This Harvard review explains that it’s likely that soy may have different effects on your body depending on how much estrogen is already present, meaning it could have an anti-estrogenic effect in premenopausal women and estrogenic effect in postmenopausal women.

According to the American Cancer Society, it’s safe to consume. If you’re a fan of soy products, you can safely ‘add to cart’.

Flaxseed

Flaxseed contains what is known as lignans. By possibly “acting like” estrogen when eaten, lignans may decrease breast cancer risk, particularly in postmenopausal women.

The recommendation from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is that flaxseed should be eaten as part of your diet rather than as a supplement, and no more than three tablespoons a day.

Red clover

This legume is sold as a natural supplement for menopause symptoms. The jury is out on how effective it is at this job.

Some reports claim it can influence estrogen levels and help with hot flashes.

Others, like this one, say that the effect appears to be weak.

This study reported that it had no effect on postmenopausal women. More research is needed here for us to know for sure.

U.S. Pharmacist also includes these in their list of foods containing phytoestrogen:

  • Sesame seeds
  • Wheat
  • Berries
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Dried beans
  • Lentils
  • Rice
  • Alfalfa
  • Mung beans
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Wheat germ
  • Ricebran

The bottom line? While phytoestrogen may help with hormonal balance, more research is needed for us to know for sure.

If you’re struggling with menopause symptoms, know that you’re not alone. We’re having the conversation on Peanut. Join us.

📚 More on menopause:
Introducing, Peanut Menopause
What’s a Helpful Menopause Diet?
Do Natural Remedies for Menopause Help?
Menopause & Weight Gain: What to Know
Essential Oils for Menopause: What Helps?
Tea for Menopause: Which to Choose and Why
Menopause and Constipation: What’s the Link?
Do Menopause Supplements Help?
What to Do About Menopause Bloating
Keto and Menopause: What to Know
What are the 34 Symptoms of Menopause?
What are the Signs Perimenopause is Ending?
What Are The Benefits of Progesterone After Menopause?
Menopause Weight Loss: What to Know
How to Combat the Menopause Itch
Alcohol and Menopause: What to Know
How to Delay Menopause

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