When I began researching menopause and its causes, I could find one name surfacing time and again – i.e., estrogen. Upon further research, I garnered more information and learned that estrogen isn’t just a female reproductive hormone but is significant in several non-reproductive functions. From whatever I read, I concluded that 100% of the menopausal symptoms are because of the dip in estrogen levels at the onset of menopause.
I was discussing with a friend the other day about the effectiveness of estrogen in controlling most of our body functions. She said all the brain fog, joint pains, and digestive issues we face during menopause are the deed of the hormones, which fluctuate and decrease drastically. Estrogen controls all of it: our gut, our brains, our hearts, and a lot more. No wonder the symptoms.
Now, the catch is how to make up for the estrogen loss in menopause. I was once discussing this with a doctor friend who mentioned diet. She said many estrogen-rich foods could somewhat compensate for the low estrogen levels.
Do you belong to the mid-40s age group? Have you started experiencing some of the symptoms of menopause? If so, then this article will benefit you immensely. You need to pay special attention to your diet, and that is what my writing is about. I have discussed some of the foods rich in estrogen, which will definitely help you fix your diet. Read on to know more.
13 of the most Beneficial Estrogen-Rich Foods
What I am going to explain here might seem a little medical to you, Yet if you are banking on some foods due to their high estrogen levels, you must know the reason too. Phytoestrogens are compounds that mimic or replicate estrogen in several aspects. This is because of the similarity in chemical structures. There are four distinct compounds classified as phytoestrogen, lignan, isoflavones, coumestan, resveratrol, and stilbene.
Foods rich in phytoestrogen will help to control estrogen levels in menopause when eaten in moderation.
1. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds are high in phytoestrogen lignan, which is 800 times more than the lignan content in other plant-based foods. Five studies were conducted from 2010-2011 on breast cancer patients in the postmenopausal stage. The result of the study was that those who consumed a significant amount of flaxseed witnessed a lesser progression of the disease .
You should include flax seeds in your diet in their ground form, perhaps as a topping for your pasta, smoothie, or salad. I prefer flaxseed seasoning in my soups and salads. It helps me stay healthy and soothes my taste buds. You could go experimental with flax seeds. How about adding some ground flaxseed to your breakfast cereal? You could even add flaxseed to the mustard or mayonnaise when preparing sandwiches. That would be an amazing idea as well.
Soy is rich in the phytoestrogen isoflavones that can mimic the functions of estrogen. As per research, the isoflavones present in soy decrease the frequency and severity of hot flashes.
Clinical studies showed that postmenopausal women who consumed 20-60 grams of soy protein daily were at a lesser risk of night sweats and hot flashes. Tofu, soymilk, edamame, and tempeh are all made of soy. I love making smoothies with soymilk and frozen fruits. It’s a wholesome meal and takes care of my taste buds. Adding soy milk to your cereals will make for a healthy and tasty breakfast.
3. Sesame Seeds
These seeds are high in lignan. A study conducted in 2006 on 26 healthy women showed that consuming sesame seed powder positively impacted the estrogen levels of postmenopausal women. Ingesting sesame improved the antioxidant levels, blood lipids, and sex hormones of women who had entered the postmenopausal phase. The nutty flavor of the sesame seeds, when baked, is immensely tempting. It’s a common ingredient in my breadsticks and buns as well.
4. Dried Fruits
Dried fruits aren’t just a tasty snack but a rich source of phytoestrogen as well. Prune, raisin, apricot, and dates are high in lignans, and isoflavones.
Having them in moderate amounts helps to ease mood swings and hot flashes. Moreover, they even work wonders for maintaining heart health. The dried fruits even contain a high amount of fiber. They help relieve women of joint and muscle pain that is quite common during perimenopause and menopause.
Peaches are high in lignan and help lessen the incidence of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. A 2009 study showed that women eating lignan-rich foods were less susceptible to breast cancer by around 15%.
Peaches are considered a great stress reliever because of their magnesium content. No wonder it is one of those foods that menopausal women can eat to control stress. I am not a fan of the fruit, but I enjoy including it in some recipes like savory peach chicken and peach pie smoothie.
I enjoy adding garlic to anything I cook. However, garlic not only adds flavor to your food but is loaded with health benefits that help women with menopause.
One of the major benefits is its anti-inflammatory properties, which help menopausal women to get rid of bone and joint pain that is common then.
A one-year study was conducted on 44 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. They were divided into the placebo group and the garlic group. Results deduced that The garlic group was at a greater advantage in the reduction of inflammation; more research is needed, though.
You can introduce garlic to your food in any way you wish. It could be added to your stews, soups, or sauces to enhance flavor. That’s what I mostly do. Roasted garlic may even serve as a great accompaniment to the food you eat.
7. Wheat Bran
Another food on the list that is high in lignan phytoestrogen is wheat bran. If you are in your menopause, then wheat bran will help to control your appetite and manage your weight. This is mainly because of its high fiber content. You could add it to your casserole, soups, stews, oatmeal, or cereal.
Most berries – mainly blueberry, cranberry, raspberry, and strawberry are highly concentrated with phytoestrogen, which makes them a powerful source of antioxidants. Which one is your favorite? Mine is strawberry and cranberry.
So adding them to your diet in measured amounts would help to lessen episodes of night sweats and hot flashes that are extremely bothersome during menopause. Studies have even evaluated the role of antioxidants in lessening other symptoms of menopause, like sleep disorders, anxiety, and mood swings.
Though we mentioned soy before, it is important to talk about the benefits of tofu when referring to estrogen-rich foods. Tofu, made from soy milk, is said to have the highest concentration of isoflavones among all soy products.
Tempeh is another soy product made from fermented soybeans. Like tofu, tempeh also has high amounts of phytoestrogen isoflavones. Besides this, it is also high in proteins, vitamins, prebiotics, and minerals.
11. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, and collard greens have a high content of phytoestrogen, mainly coumestrol, and lignan. Broccoli is my choicest veggie, and I love to use it in preparing stir-fries, salads, and soups. One study showed that eating broccoli helped in decreasing estradiol levels. This is a kind of estrogen that causes breast cancer in the postmenopausal phase.
On the other hand, it increases the levels of estrogen, which ensures protection from breast cancer.
The calcium and fiber content of broccoli plays a significant role in maintaining strong bones and proper weight.
Legumes like chickpeas, lentils, split peas, and red clover are rich in phytoestrogen. Legumes are also an integral part of the Mediterranean diet. Studies showed that regular intake of legumes reduced the severity of menopause symptoms.
13. Red Wine
Red wine has an increased concentration of phytoestrogen resveratrol. Thus it has a positive impact on heart health and also keeps cholesterol under control. A study assessed that the phytoestrogens found in red wine hinder the growth of cancer cells in postmenopausal women.
However, in your menopause or post-menopause, you should limit alcohol consumption to stay healthy.
Because phytoestrogen functions like estrogen, you cannot consume excessively estrogen-rich foods. That will take a toll on your health.
Increased intake of phytoestrogen leads to hormonal imbalances. It also has other side effects. These include increased sleepiness, abdominal pain, muscle pain, and allergic reactions.
It isn’t just a female hormone. Males have estrogen also, but not as much as we do. The estrogen estradiol impacts the sexual function of males.
So, to conclude, you can opt for nutritious foods during menopause to enhance your intake of phytoestrogen. Since phytoestrogens have estrogen-mimicking properties, it will help to keep your estrogen levels in check to a great extent. However, make sure that the consumption is not over the limit. Otherwise it could result in health problems.