Phytoestrogens do not act like typical estrogen hormone that we can take in from synthetic sources. The action of estrogen rich foods is much more balanced than artificially produced Estrogen hormones.
Estrogen rich foods from plants act selectively. They act like estrogen in some organs and block the effect of estrogen in other body parts that do not need it.
Hence, they are highly helpful foods that naturally help us to balance our hormones, specifically in the transition period of menopause.
Women should include Estrogen rich foods in their diet on regular basis at any age group but more importantly starting from early 30s, when her hormone levels naturally begin to fluctuate.
In this post, we will go through the role of Estrogen in maintaining your health and hormone balance at Menopause.
Also, you will learn why you should include estrogen rich foods (phytoestrogens) in your diet and the best sources of estrogen foods. Let’s get started!
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Estrogen Balance for Women Health
Estrogen controls the physiology, growth, and functioning of a woman’s reproductive system. However, the functions of Estrogen are not just limited to its reproductive action.
Estrogen regulates the functioning of vital body systems as the endocrine system, nervous system, circulatory system, musculoskeletal system and immune system for men and women.
It is present in both males and females, but in much higher amounts in females.
An imbalance in Estrogen levels can give rise to multiple health problems and unwanted bodily changes such as Osteoporosis, Heart Disease, Thyroid Problems, Obesity and Infertility.
Women in particular undergo hormonal changes related to the decline in Estrogen production during menopause. It often leads to hormonal imbalances related to low or high Estrogen levels, which triggers Menopause symptoms.
That’s why, it is really important to keep your Estrogen levels in check through natural dietary sources as Estrogen rich foods.
The Three types of Estrogen Hormone
Estrogen hormone is present in our body in three forms. Each of this form is active at a certain stage of life. They differ in the potency level and based on the source of production.
Estradiol is the most potent naturally occurring estrogen hormone. It is abundant in younger women as it is regularly produced during each menstrual cycle by the ovaries.
Estradiol levels decline during menopause. However, it is still produced by the ovaries in much smaller amounts after menopause.
Estriol is the primary estrogen produced by the placenta during pregnancy. It is the weakest of all three forms of Estrogen.
Estriol is present in maximum concentration during pregnancy, thus making it the dominating Estrogen during that time. It is responsible to stimulate the growth of prolactin hormone and hence lactation after the delivery.
This form of Estrogen is the most abundant in the body after menopause. It is less potent than Estradiol and more potent than Estriol.
Estrone is largely produced by the fatty tissues and the adrenal glands through the conversion of DHEA hormone.
Thus, if you have more fatty tissues or perhaps undergoing excessive stress; then you will be prone to excess Estrogen or Estrogen dominance in menopause.
Estrogen Function for Women Health
1. Estrogen Hormone affects Mental Wellness
- It controls the functions of the nervous system
- It improves the effects of endorphins (feel-good chemicals).
- Low Estrogen causes anxiety issues.
2. Estrogen maintains your body Temperature
- Estrogen acts on the hypothalamus and helps to maintain body temperature, thus keeping the body warmer or colder through peripheral functions as sweating and blood circulation.
- This is the reason for Hot Flashes and Night Sweats experienced during pregnancy, menstrual cycles, and during Menopause.
3. Supports Bone Health
Low or no Physical Activity, low level of Nutrition, and Low Estrogen together hit the bone health very hard in and after Middle Age. More than 50% of women complain of joint pain or back pain.
- Estrogen promotes growth of bone tissues as it supports the osteoblasts, the cells that form new bone, and accelerates their function.
- It regulates bone density and improvises bone strength.
- Estrogen reduces leaching out of Calcium, hence prevents bone loss. Low Estrogen level during and after Menopause is also the reason of poor bone density and bone health issues.
4. Skin and Hair Health
- Estrogen controls quality of hair tissues. It directs growth of hair follicles and prevents hair loss and thinning.
- Estrogen improves skin quality and elasticity.
- It guides protein metabolism and enhances collagen production.
- Low Estrogen levels are often the reason behind dry, inflamed, and wrinkled skin in Menopausal women.
5. Estrogen maintains your Heart Health
Estrogen directs heart health and vascular function. Low Estrogen levels topped with sedentary lifestyle, and faulty foods put middle aged women at risk of heart attack and heart disease.
- Estrogen receptors have been found all over the cardiovascular system.
- It lowers blood pressure by relaxing the arterial vessels. This reduces the resistance to blood flow and lowers heart load.
- Estrogen directs cholesterol production in the liver.
- It controls production of LDL – bad cholesterol and promotes synthesis of HDL – good cholesterol.
6. Estrogen supports Thyroid Function
- Estrogen promotes liver synthesis of (TBG) thyroxine-binding globulin.
- TBG increases the activity and effectiveness of Thyroxine hormone or Thyroid function.
- Low Estrogen often triggers Hypothyroidism and less frequently Hyperthyroidism in Middle Aged Women.
7. Estrogen Function for Menstrual Cycle and Fertility
Along with Progesterone, Estrogen is one of the most significant hormones for the health of women.
- Estrogen Hormone helps in the regulation of the menstrual cycle and directs the functioning of the reproductive system.
- It gives rise to a proper environment for the fertilization and implantation of the embryo. It also ensures required nutrition is provided to an early embryo.
8. Directs the Growth of Female Body
Estrogen causes structural differences between the male and female bodies, for example, the pelvis in females is wider and they have more permanent hair on the head.
- It enhances the process of development and growth of female secondary sexual characteristics, such as breasts, pubic and armpit hair.
- Estrogen acts as a chemical messenger that instructs specific tissues to act and grow accordingly in both males and females.
- It enhances and helps to regulate vaginal acidity. This reduces the risk of uterine and vaginal infections in females.
What causes Low Estrogen in Menopause?
Estrogen is naturally produced in a woman’s body during the regular menstrual cycle. This helps to maintain Estrogen balance in healthy adult females.
During menopause, ovaries shrink and egg production slows down. This results in lesser production of Estrogen and Progesterone.
What are the symptoms of low Estrogen levels?
Estrogen levels dwindle down as women age and approach menopause. This triggers health issues related to poor health of the bones and heart, weight gain, vision problems and mood swings.
- Frequent Urinary Tract Infections UTI
- Loss of Libido and or Painful Intercourse
- Vaginal Dryness and Atrophy
- Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
- Hypothyroidism or Hashimoto in extreme cases
- Poor Metabolism and Weight Gain
- High cholesterol and Poor Lipid profile
- Apple shaped Body, Belly Fat and Menopausal Weight Gain
- Bone Health Issues – Brittle Bones, Joint pain, Backache
- Heart health issues
- Irregular Periods
- Cataract and Vision problems
- Dry, inflamed, and wrinkled skin
- Hair loss and thinning
- Anxiety, Poor memory, and Palpitations
What are Phytoestrogens?
Phytoestrogens are natural sources of Estrogen in the form from plant based food items. They closely resemble the chemical structure and functioning of Estrogen produced by the human body. Howver, phytoestrogens are much less potent than human Estrogen hormone.
Regular consumption of estrogen rich foods in your diet will help you to keep your hormone balance in check during transition phases such as pregnancy, post pregnancy, and during menopause.
Phytoestrogens act selectively and support the efficacy and action of our body’s natural Estrogen production. The role and overall effect on our body of estrogen rich foods varies with their source.
That’s why, it is important to include a variety and good quantity of phytoestrogens in your diet on regular basis to balance your hormone levels.
Types of Phytoestrogens from Estrogen Rich Foods
We can get phytoestrogens from more than 300 varied food items including vegetables, fruits, cereals, seeds, nuts, grains, and beans.
These foods carry phytoestrogens belonging to three different chemical classes as listed below.
|Estrogen Variant||Food Types|
|Isoflavones||Primarily found in soybeans and soy products such as tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and miso paste.|
|Lignans||A constituent of dietary fiber. Main sources include nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, fruits & vegetables.|
|Coumestans||Majorly found in sprouted beans such as alfalfa & clover sprouts, split peas, pinto beans, and lima beans.|
Which are the Best Estrogen Rich Foods?
Estrogen rich foods or phytoestrogens are one of the best ways to naturally top up your Estrogen levels in menopause.
Regular consumption of estrogen rich foods will help you to maintain hormone balance and protect you from the intensity of menopause symptoms. Here are some foods that should form part of your meals and menopause diet.
1. Flax Seeds
Also known as linseed, these are one of the best Estrogen rich foods that provide phytoestrogens in the form of Lignans.
They help in reducing cholesterol levels in the body as they contain dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Flax has been used to reduce inflammation and detoxification.
2. Sesame Seeds
Sesame is a good source of lignan phytoestrogens and one of the densest sources of Calcium.
Thus, it helps to balance estrogen levels and also protect the bones. Sesame Seeds also provide dietary fiber and several vitamins and minerals to the body.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
These are a great source of lignan phytoestrogens and contain as much as 560 micrograms per 100g of the seeds.
Pumpkin seeds are also a rich source of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that prevent aging related disorders and also nourish the body.
Soybean is one of the best sources of plant protein and oils. Regular consumption of soy supports the health of heart, kidneys, liver and stomach.
The isoflavones of soy products balance the estrogen levels in women. However, do make sure you stay away from highly processed forms of soy as soy milk and yogurt that contain additional preservatives.
Prefer natural forms of soy as:
- soy beans
- miso paste
Fruits are not the best sources of Estrogen, however strawberries and peaches are rich in phytoestrogens. You can take these fruits raw or even blend into a dessert.
- Peaches can lessen the risk of cancer, stroke, and other associated heart diseases.
- Strawberries can lower the risk of obesity and promote healthy skin and hair.
Nuts are the most satisfying healthy snacks as they are rich sources of many nutrients.
You can take them both in raw and roasted form. Roasting increases the bioavailability of the phytoestrogens presents in nuts. However, grinding reduces it as compared to raw nuts.
A handful of nuts provide enough phytoestrogens and isoflavones, as needed for your body.
You can add nuts to salads, snacks, desserts, etc. Nuts are not only delicious but also healthy and give extra crunch to your dishes.
However, nuts are heavy to digest, hence moderation is the key. They can also be soaked in water for a couple of hours to enhance their digestibility and hence health benefits.
- Brazil Nuts
7. Dry Fruits
Dry fruits are one of the best sources of phytoestrogens and dietary fiber. During drying, these fruits accumulate higher amounts of phytoestrogens, vitamins, and minerals.
You can take them anytime in a day. You can take a handful of dry fruits with a bowl of milk in the breakfast, a few during lunch to enhance your estrogen and energy levels.
Dried apricots, dates, and dried prunes are some of the best dry fruits to take regularly to improve estrogen levels in the body.
Regular consumption of vegetables is excellent way to increase estrogen levels via Lignans. Except for Yam, below vegetables can be taken raw or in cooked form.
- Green Beans
9. White Beans
White beans are very healthy containing phytoestrogens, fiber, and nutrients like iron, folate, and calcium.
This facilitates the balance of estrogen levels in the body. You can add boiled white beans to your salads and in different dishes.
Sprouts as Alfalfa Sprouts, Clover Sprouts, and Mung Bean Sprouts. You can add Alfalfa Sprouts, and Mung Bean Sprouts to salads and soups.
Bean sprouts help in hair growth, colds, headaches, hemorrhaging in abortion, threatened abortion, difficult labor, irritability and fever.
11. Black Beans
It helps to improve fertility in women because they are good a source of phytoestrogens. They also supply enough protein, antioxidants, fiber, several vitamins, and minerals.
Black beans are related to medicine and have been used for strength and vigor. It is also used in mixtures for recovery after delivery and for reproductive disorders.
Herbs | Estrogen Rich Foods
Herbs such as Parsley, Dill, Fennel, aniseed, Sage, and Red Clover significantly boost the phytoestrogen content of a meal.
They can be added to the meal preparations directly. Or you can take them as herbal tea.
Garlic contains the Isoflavones types of Phytoestrogen. It provides multiple health benefits, for example, it helps reduce cholesterol, and prevents cancer and heart diseases.
Garlic is known for its antimicrobial and antiviral properties. Garlic can be added to the soups, salads, sautés, stir-fries, pasta, and stews for flavour and health benefits.
The licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) plant is a perennial, having ‘sweet root’.
The sweet yellow wood of the licorice root is a revered medicinal herb in Ayurveda, in Chinese traditional system, and in the native European medicinal systems.
It is also highly helpful to reduce Kapha Imbalance, hence mucus production and pacify the heat and inflammation in the body.
14. Whole Grains | Estrogen Rich Foods
Grains, such as Oats, Barley, Wheat, and Rye contain a phytoestrogen known as Lignan. Regular intake of a variety of grains in their whole form can increase estrogen in your body.
15. Beans and Legumes
Legumes provide natural estrogens that support hormone balance in your body. Some examples are:
- Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
- red beans
- green peas
- split peas
16. Green Tea
It is rich in antioxidants that help to naturally detox and reduce inflammation in the body.
Green tea in moderation can help to balance hormones and improve fat metabolism during the years of perimenopause and menopause.
Check out Hormone Balance with Ayurveda, a holistic health programme. Receive personalized Ayurvedic treatment and step-by step guidance on diet and lifestyle to balance your hormones and find relief from period problems.
Before You Go!
Ayurvedic treatment is not based on testing your willpower but it nurtures you to develop “self love” and switch on your body’s natural healing mechanism with the right diet and lifestyle.
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