Balanced hormones are vital for the body’s health and estrogen, in particular, is important for female sexual and reproductive health. Low estrogen levels during menopause, however, can result in symptoms like insomnia, unshakeable tiredness, low libido, or mood swings.
And although your doctor can prescribe medicinal treatment options like hormone replacement therapy, some readily available foods that are rich in estrogen can also help.
Read on for 10 food options that will help increase your estrogen levels.
Can Food Really Increase Estrogen Levels?
Yes, it can. Certain plant-based foods contain phytoestrogens, also known as dietary estrogen, which when ingested into the body, are capable of mimicking estrogen’s hormonal effects.
Some phytoestrogens have estrogenic effects on the body, meaning they increase estrogen levels, while other phytoestrogens can decrease estrogen levels. In this article, we’ll focus on foods that increase estrogen levels.
How Do Phytoestrogens Work?
Because phytoestrogens have a similar chemical structure to estrogen, they can attach to cellular estrogen receptors within the body and encourage the hormonal role of estrogen when it begins to drop naturally during, for example, perimenopausal and menopausal years.
According to the Journal of Nutrition, phytoestrogens include three groups of compounds, namely isoflavones, lignans, and coumestands, all of which mimic estrogen-like effects.
Several studies have found that ingesting phytoestrogens in a dietary form not only improves menopausal symptoms but also lowers the risks of female cancer, cholesterol, and osteoporosis in postmenopausal years.
What Are the Top Foods That Increase Estrogen?
The following is a list of the top 10 healthy plant-based foods that are rich in phytoestrogens:
Soybeans are believed to be an abundant source of isoflavones, as are soybean products such as tofu, tempeh, and edamame. The isoflavones found in soybean products are known to help lower the risk of breast cancer, manage symptoms of menopause, as well as lower high cholesterol levels, and manage the risk of heart disease.
These minute brown seeds are extremely rich in phytoestrogen lignans. In actual fact, flaxseeds are 800 times more abundant in lignans than any other food and recent studies suggest that they are particularly helpful for women experiencing menopause symptoms. This type of phytoestrogen is also beneficial in lowering the risk of breast cancer.
3. Cashew Nuts
Rich in both isoflavones and lignans, cashew nuts are also considered a plentiful source of phytoestrogens. In addition, cashews are high in magnesium which is essential for improving sleep and lowering the risk of brittle bones in postmenopausal years.
4. Dried Fruits
In addition to being delicious, healthy, and rich in fiber, dried fruits are also a great source of phytoestrogens for those seeking to increase estrogen levels. Dried apricots contain the highest amount of phytoestrogens, second is dates, followed by prunes and raisins. The high amounts of isoflavones and lignans in these dried fruits help to improve menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and lower the risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Rich in calcium, magnesium, and fiber, which help to improve done density and digestion, phytoestrogens are also plentiful in chickpeas, which makes them an incredibly helpful snack for women who are experiencing low estrogen levels during menopause. Particularly abundant in chickpeas are isoflavones called Biochanin A. Through research, these have been proven to not only manage menopause symptoms but also lower the growth and survival of cancer cells.
6. Alfalfa Sprouts
Speaking of bone health, alfalfa sprouts are known to contain high amounts of phytoestrogen called coumestans. Research has shown that coumestans are incredibly beneficial in lowering the risk of osteoporosis by improving bone density and mineralization, as well as managing menopause symptoms.
7. Cruciferous Vegetables
Along with their wide variety of nutrients, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts are all cruciferous vegetables that contain high amounts of phytoestrogens. Cauliflower and broccoli have high levels of a lignan called secoisolariciresinol, which is known to protect against hormone-related cancers like breast cancer, endometrium cancer, and prostate cancer.
Cabbage and Brussels sprouts, on the other hand, are rich in the phytoestrogen called coumestrol, which is great to improve bone density and other menopause symptoms.
8. Sesame Seeds
Packed full of nutrients like vitamin B6, vitamin E, zinc, copper, and iron; sesame seeds are also bountiful in phytoestrogens. Recent studies found that women who consumed as little as 50 grams of sesame seeds every day for five weeks experienced increased estrogen levels as well as lower cholesterol.
Blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, and strawberries can all help to increase estrogen levels. As well as being rich sources of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, berries contain high levels of phytoestrogen lignans.
Peaches are undoubtedly one of the more deliciously juicy fruits and packed full of healthy minerals and vitamins, peaches are a great source of phytoestrogens in the form of lignans. Interestingly, several studies have found that women who consume diets that are rich in lignans can not only expect fewer menopause symptoms but also lower the risk of breast cancer by up to 15%.
Estrogen is one of the main hormones linked to sexual and reproductive health in women. During menopause, however, low levels of estrogen can result in symptoms such as insomnia, night sweats, hot flashes, and mood swings. However, as outlined above, low estrogen levels can be managed by consuming healthy plant-based foods that are rich in phytoestrogens.
While dietary estrogen can adequately raise estrogen levels for most women, it is always advisable to speak with your healthcare practitioner and have your estrogen levels tested regularly to confirm they are optimal.
National Library of Medicine - Phytoestrogens and human health effects: weighing up the current evidence - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9888630/
The Journal of Nutrition - Isoflavonoid and Lignan Phytoestrogens as Dietary Biomarkers -
National Library of Medicine - Lignans and breast cancer risk in pre and post-menopausal women: meta-analyses of observational studies - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19337250/
National Library of Medicine - Flaxseed and its lignans inhibit estradiol-induced growth, angiogenesis, and secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor in human breast cancer xenografts in vivo - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17289903/
Science Direct - Biochanin A: A phytoestrogen with therapeutic potential -
Open Venito - Phytoestrogens as Pharma Foods - https://openventio.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Phytoestrogens-as-Pharma-Foods-AFTNSOJ-2-127.pdf
National Library of Medicine - Sesame ingestion affects sex hormones, antioxidant status, and blood lipids in postmenopausal women - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16614415/
National Library of Medicine - The Specific Role of Isoflavones on Estrogen Metabolism in Premenopausal Women - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2377415/