Estrogen is a naturally-occurring hormone that plays a crucial role in women’s sexual and reproductive health. If you have low estrogen, try adding some of the foods high in estrogen to your diet.

Hormones play an essential role in the human body working correctly. An imbalance of these hormones can have some adverse effects on all aspects of health. Estrogen is one of these hormones that is essential for both men and women.

This hormone is present at a higher level in women. Good levels of this hormone are essential for both genders as they can support mood regulation, bone health, and lower cancer risk.

Most of the people, especially women, face estrogen imbalance. If the imbalance of this hormone remains untreated, it can lead to severe health conditions like irregular periods, weight gain, and pregnancy complications.

Phytoestrogen, a dietary estrogen, can be obtained from plant-based food. Studies have shown that these plant foods can increase the benefits of hormones on human health.

What is estrogen?

Estrogen is one of the sex hormones essential for some specific functions in women’s bodies. Along with progesterone, estrogen plays an essential role in women’s reproductive health.

Estrogen is responsible for developing secondary sex characteristics, menstruation, menopause, and pregnancy in women.

This hormone is also present in men but at a lower level than in women. This hormone also plays an important role in other parts of the body, depending upon the type of this hormone. There are three major types :

  • Estrone: Estrone or E1 is a primary form of estrogen made by the body after menopause.
  • Estradiol: Estradiol or E2 is the most potent form of estrogen which is made by the body during the reproductive years
  • Estriol: Estriol or E3 is the type of estrogen hormone released by the body during pregnancy.

All of these three types of estrogen play an important role, and an imbalance in this hormone can result in a disturbance in body functions.

Why do you need estrogen?

The main function of estrogen is to control the reproductive changes in women, but it also performs other functions in both male and female bodies like supprorting the heart and blood vessels, strengthening bones, mood regulation, and brain protection. The imbalance of estrogen can affect all of these functions.

But the nutrients present in plant-based foods can support estrogen’s natural function. Research has shown that these nutrients can perform several benefits by supporting estrogen:

  • Menopausal relief: The estrogen level in women decreases during the age, which causes many changes in the body, including menopause. Studies have shown that phytoestrogen can help reduce some physical symptoms of menopause like vaginal dryness and hot flashes.
  • Bone strength: Estrogen also plays an important role in increasing bone density in both men and women. Which reduces the risk of some major bone-related disease, osteoporosis. Studies have shown that phytoestrogen can be linked to long-term bone health.
  • Lower risk of cancer: High levels of estrogen and phytoestrogen in women can reduce the risk of breast cancer. Phytoestrogen has also been shown to kill prostate cancer cells.
  • Lower risk of heart diseases: Phytonutrients can also help reduce bad cholesterol levels, which is one of the most significant risk factors for heart diseases. So maintaining a good cholesterol level can protect the arteries from fatty build-up.

Foods high in estrogen:

Most women have to face a low estrogen level even at a younger age, which results in some unpleasant symptoms. But the estrogen level can be enhanced with the help of phytoestrogen, found in plant foods.

1. Soybeans:

Soybeans and the products of soybeans like tofu and edamame consist of a high amount of a specific phytoestrogen, also known as isoflavones. These isoflavones can reduce the risk of heart diseases.

According to a study (Palacios, 2020), a diet consisting of isoflavones can lower the bad cholesterol level and provide benefits in reducing the risk of heart diseases.

assorted soy products

Moreover, according to Mackenzie Burgees, a registered dietician, nutritionist, and recipe developer at cheerful, the phytoestrogen in soy products can be very beneficial in reducing the risk of breast cancer and menopausal symptoms in women.

Soy can be added to the diet in many different ways. You can have tofu, tempeh, or soy protein in soups and stews. Moreover, soy protein powder is also available, which contains vitamins and minerals.

2. Cashews:

Cashews are a great source of isoflavones and lignins, both phytoestrogen. This phytoestrogen can help with poor sleep and poor bone health.

cashew milk and scatter cashews on wood surface

Cashews are also a rich source of magnesium, which can further strengthen bones and improve sleep.

You can have the whole cashew as your snack or add it to your salads and desserts. Cashews can also be blended into salted caramel protein bites for an easy on-the-go snack.

3. Flaxseeds:

Flaxseeds are a rich source of phytoestrogen known as lignans. Every 100 grams of flaxseeds can provide 294 mg of lignans, which is the highest amount compared to other food sources.

ground flaxseed and flaxseed oil

Studies (Rodríguez-García, 2019) have found that this lignan can provide both antioxidant and anti-cancer effects, which lead to a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and risk of various cancers like breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

Flaxseeds can be added to smoothies, salads, and desserts as well. But it is recommended to use a ground form of flaxseeds, as it can digest easily.

4. Chickpeas:

Legumes, including chickpeas, contain phytoestrogens. Biochanin A, a type of isoflavones, is also present within chickpeas. Several studies show various benefits of these isoflavones.

wooden spoon of dried chickpeas overflowing

For example, one study (Shikha Raheja, 2018) shows that it can increase the cancer-fighting effect because of its ability to interfere with cell growth and lower the survival rate of the cancer cells.

Chickpeas can be roasted with olive oil and used as a crunchy snack, or make a chickpea hummus and dip in some veggies.

5. Alfalfa sprouts:

Alfalfa sprouts contain a higher amount of coumestans, another type of phytoestrogen. This phytoestrogen is well researched (Charu Gupta, 2016) for its bone-strengthening ability.

alfalfa sprouts isolated on white background

According to research, coumestans can decrease bone breakdown and promote bone mineralization, improving bone density and reducing the risk of bone-related diseases like osteoporosis.

Cold alfalfa sprouts can be added to salads and sandwiches while warm in stir-fries. Alfalfa sprouts can also be enjoyed raw or lightly cooked.

6. Dried fruits:

Dried fruits can also provide a high amount of phytoestrogen. Dried apricots, dates, prunes, and dried raisins contain the highest phytoestrogen.

dried apricots close up

The phylogenies present within these foods are mainly lignans and isoflavones. Both of these help with menopausal symptoms, cardiovascular diseases, and the risk of cancer.

The best way to take all the nutrients of dry fruits is to eat them raw as a snack between meals. Dried fruits can also be added to smoothies, desserts, salads, and many other recipes.

7. Cruciferous vegetables:

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower are rich in phytoestrogen.

cauliflower head on plant close up

These all vegetables not only help in maintaining hormonal balance but are also a rich source of nutrients. Moreover, these vegetables’ anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties also make them a good option.

Most people like to eat cruciferous vegetables in raw form. But eating these vegetables in raw form can create digestive issues for some.

So, you can boil these and add these to salads, soups, and stews. You can also roast them and eat tender vegetables as a snack.

8. Sesame seeds:

Not only a tasty topping, but sesame seeds are also highly nutritious. These seeds are also rich in phytoestrogen and some other essential nutrients.

sesame seeds in wooden bowl with spoon

Studies (Wen-Huey Wu, 2006) have also shown the positive effect of sesame seeds supplements on the estrogen and cholesterol levels of the person.

Sesame seeds are delicious in raw form but can be baked or toasted to enhance their flavor. These seeds are mainly used as a topping on a salad, bagels, burger buns, and breadsticks.

Moreover, the main ingredient that is used in hummus, other than chickpeas, is also made of sesame seeds. 

9. Berries:

Berries are not only a delicious snack for most people, but they can also provide numerous health benefits.

Whether it’s strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries, all types of berries can raise estrogen levels.

pile of assorted berries on a wooden surface

Berries are not only a good source of vitamins, fibers, and antioxidants, but they are also rich in lignan, which makes them a good source of phytoestrogen.

Berries can be a good breakfast if added to cereals, yogurt, oatmeal, or sandwiches. These can be added to smoothies and juices. Frozen berries can also be a good option to eat as a snack.

10. Legumes:

assorted varieties of beans close uip

The isoflavonoids in legumes, genistein, and daidzein, are the most researched phytoestrogen. Both plant estrogen compounds may have the same effect as estradiol In various tissues in the body.

Legumes can be used in soups and stews. These can also be worn as a snack in place of unhealthy chips. Legumes like chickpeas and black peas can be added to salads.

11. Garlic:

There is a lot of research that can show the effect of garlic consumption in improving estrogen level.

According to one study (Hassan Mozaffari-Khosravi, 2012), garlic was used for bone loss due to a low estrogen level.

peeled garlic cloves in wooden spoon

The researchers found that garlic consumption can promote bone maintenance by improving estrogen levels.

Regular garlic intake can lower cholesterol levels, reduce high blood pressure, and prevent blood clotting, a risk factor for heart diseases.

You can mince garlic clove and add it to your salads or add garlic into soup and juice with other veggies.

12. Wheat bran:

Wheat bran is not only a good source of fiber, but it also contains a high amount of lignans, a type of phytoestrogen.

spoonful of wheat bran on white plate

Several types of research show a clear impact of wheat bran in increasing estrogen levels, but it is not confirmed whether it is due to lignans or the high fiber content of wheat bran.

Wheat bran can be added to soups and stews or waffles and pancakes. It can also be sprinkled on oatmeal and cereals.

13. Peaches:

Including a high quantity of minerals and vitamins present in peaches are also a great source of phytoestrogen.

peaches in wire basket

Like other phytoestrogen-rich foods, peaches can also increase estrogen levels and reduce the risk of breast cancer in women.

Peaches are best to eat in raw form or added to smoothies. You can also add sliced peaches into sandwiches or salads.

14. Grapes:

Grapes are a rich source of resveratrol, a phytoestrogen that has been researched to reduce the risk of various major diseases.

Consumption of grapes, particularly their skins, can reduce the growth of cancer cells, especially in post-menopausal women. This phytoestrogen resveratrol can provide similar advantages as natural estrogen.

concord grapes in a produce basket

Bottom line:

Estrogen is a group of natural hormones in both men and women. This hormone controls reproductive functions in women like menopause, menstruation, and the development of secondary sex characteristics. The imbalance of this hormone can result in various health-related issues.

Several foods can help in enhancing estrogen levels. Plant foods contain phytoestrogen, a compound that can enhance the effect of estrogen in the body.

Nuts, beans, legumes, dried fruits, cruciferous vegetables, berries, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, and chickpeas can provide phytoestrogen and various essential nutrients.

These food can be easily added to the diet and provide many other health benefits like reducing the risk of heart diseases and various cancers.

There are various treatments also available. But a healthy diet and lifestyle are very important even if you get the treatment.

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