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8 Top High Estrogen Foods You Should Know About

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8 Top High Estrogen Foods You Should Know About

Estrogen is a sex hormone (chemical messenger) that’s important for both female and male health, though it's often referred to as a female sex hormone. Numerous genetic and lifestyle factors affect estrogen levels in men and women, and establishing estrogen balance is essential to optimize health functioning and the way an individual feels.

Foods can impact hormone health, and various benefits and potential concerns are linked to consuming high-estrogen foods or supplements. This article will cover the top high-estrogen foods, their health implications, and ways to incorporate them into a healthy meal plan. 

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Understanding Estrogen And Its Impact on Health

Estrogen has critical functions in the overall health of men and women. When present in the right amount, it contributes to reproduction, heart health, mood regulation, and bone health.

In women, estrogen plays a vital role in reproductive health, including puberty, menstruation, fertility, pregnancy, and menopause. Too little estrogen can cause fatigue, weight gain, a low sex drive, and more. 

In men, estrogen impacts erections, sperm production, fertility, and sex drive. Too little estrogen in men can cause a low sex drive, while excess estrogen may contribute to erectile dysfunction (ED), infertility, or gynecomastia (enlarged breasts). 

Estrogen can also affect blood sugar levels, cholesterol, muscle and bone density, blood flow, circulation, brain function, ability to focus, collagen production, and numerous other body functions. 

Symptoms of low estrogen in the body include:

Properly balancing estrogen levels with healthy lifestyle changes and medical interventions (if necessary) is crucial to maintaining optimal body functioning. 

How Foods Affect Estrogen Levels

Foods containing phytoestrogen can naturally affect estrogen levels. Phytoestrogens have estrogen-like effects, as they are similar structurally to estrogen. Therefore, some foods may increase estrogen levels in the body. 

8 Top High-Estrogen Foods To Know

High-estrogen foods typically contain significant amounts of phytoestrogens, including isoflavones, lignans, coumestan, or stilbene. Examples of foods rich in phytoestrogens include:

#1. Soy Products

Soy-based foods are rich sources of isoflavones. Examples of high-estrogen foods sourced from soy include:

  • Soybeans
  • Soy milk
  • Tofu
  • Edamame
  • Tempeh
  • Soy burger
  • Miso
  • Natto
  • Soy-based protein powders

It’s simple to add one or more of these foods to your meal plan. Grill tofu in place of red meat, drink soy milk instead of cow’s milk, add soy powder to protein shakes, or combine soybeans with your favorite recipes. 

#2. Seeds and Nuts

Nuts and seeds are also excellent sources of phytoestrogens. Examples include:

Eat nuts and seeds between meals as a snack or add them to trail mix, yogurts, cereals, salads, soups, stir-fries, and any favorite recipe. You can also blend nuts, seeds, or nut butter into smoothies.

#3. Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. Some contain lignans or other estrogenic compounds. Examples include:

  • Peaches
  • Berries
  • Dried prunes
  • Plums
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Pomegranate 
  • Beans
  • Clover, alfalfa, and bean sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Soybeans
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Onions
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash
  • Collard greens
  • Green beans

Aim to eat vegetables or fruits at each meal and choose an array of these nutrient-dense foods to meet your body’s nutrition needs and improve hormone balance

#4. Dairy and Meats

Dairy products and some meats contain natural or added hormones that may increase estrogen levels in the human body. Examples include:

If you’d like to reduce estrogen and other hormones present in animal-based foods, choose organic options. 

#5. Whole Grains

Whole grains are a rich source of lignans, which are plant-based phytoestrogens. Examples of whole grains include:

  • Oats
  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Titricale 
  • Bulgur
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat

Consume whole grains in cereals, rice dishes, pasta, salads, soups, or sandwiches (whole-grain bread). 

#6. Legumes

Technically vegetables and legumes are sometimes in a class of their own because of their high fiber, protein, and carbohydrate content. Legumes containing phytoestrogen properties include:

  • Soybeans
  • Split peas
  • Lima beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Lentils
  • Navy beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Other dried peas and beans

Add legumes to soups, salads, rice, omelets, burritos, casseroles, or any favorite recipe. 

#7. Beverages and oils

Drinks that contain phytoestrogens, which means they may increase or better balance estrogen levels in the human body, include:

However, limit alcoholic drinks and consume caffeinated beverages in moderation to maximize overall health. 

#8. Dietary Supplements

Some dietary supplements are designed to increase or balance estrogen, reduce menopause symptoms in women, or optimize overall health. Examples include supplements containing:

  • Red clover
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
  • Black cohosh
  • Soy
  • Alfalfa
  • Kudzu
  • Linseed
  • Hops
  • Vitamins D, B, and E
  • Boron

Patients should always consult with their doctor before trying any supplements that may affect hormone balance. 

7 Benefits of Eating High-Estrogen Foods

Adding high-estrogen foods to meal plans may provide the following health benefits:

#1. Menopausal Symptom Relief

Studies show that consuming high-estrogen foods helps alleviate hot flashes, fatigue, weight gain, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, and other common symptoms of menopause. This is due, at least in part, to the effect of these foods on estrogen imbalance

#2. Improved Bone Health

Studies show that phytoestrogens also play a role in maintaining strong bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Therefore, maintaining healthy levels of estrogen is vital for bone health — particularly among postmenopausal women

#3. Cancer Risk Reduction

Research suggests that estrogenic foods, such as soybeans, grains, nuts, seeds, some fruits, coffee, and tea, may reduce the risk of breast, ovarian, bowel, and prostate cancers. The researchers suggest these findings are due to the antioxidant properties of phytoestrogens and their ability to limit tumor growth. 

#4. Heart Health Protection

Several studies show that phytoestrogens present in high-estrogen foods have protective effects on the heart, lessening the risk of heart disease. The researchers found that phytoestrogens can lower total cholesterol levels, improve heart function, and reduce hypertension.

#5. Better Blood Sugar Control

Researchers studying phytoestrogens found that increased intakes of high-estrogen foods were linked to a 10% lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes. This is likely because of the effects of phytoestrogens on blood sugar regulation

#6. Weight management

Research also shows that phytoestrogens aid in healthy weight management by increasing lean body mass, reducing fat accumulation, diminishing appetite, and enhancing weight loss

#7. Enhanced Cognitive Function

Believe it or not, studies found that phytoestrogens have beneficial effects on cognitive function, protecting the brain and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other brain diseases. Additional research shows that a higher intake of isoflavones or lignans is linked to improved cognitive functioning

Consuming isoflavone supplements in doses of 60-120 mg daily appears to improve cognitive function and visual memory. 

Potential Risks and Considerations

While eating high-estrogen foods or taking phytoestrogen supplements may offer an array of health benefits, potential risks and concerns also exist. Examples include:

  • Hormone imbalance: phytoestrogens may alter hormone levels, so use caution with phytoestrogen supplements if you’re undergoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
  • Thyroid function problems: high-estrogen foods could affect thyroid hormone balance, disrupting the estrogen-thyroid connection.
  • Potential side effects: studies show that potential side effects of phytoestrogen supplements include sleepiness, abdominal pain, and muscle pain.
  • Increased estrogen in men: eating large amounts of high-estrogen foods or taking phytoestrogen supplements could cause higher estrogen levels in men, increasing the risk of gynecomastia.
  • Estrogen dominance in women: high-estrogen foods may affect estrogen: progesterone ratios.

However, eating a nutritious diet containing a good balance of phytoestrogens shouldn’t cause problems for a healthy individual’s well-being.

How to Incorporate High-Estrogen Foods into Your Diet

Include high-estrogen foods in your diet daily by incorporating them into a well-balanced meal plan. Use the following USDA guidelines:

  • 1,600-calorie meal plan: 1.5 cups of fruits, 2 cups of vegetables, 5 ounces of grains, 5 ounces of protein foods, and 3 cups of dairy foods or plant-based equivalents
  • 2,000-calorie meal plan: 2 cups of fruits, 2.5 cups of vegetables, 6 ounces of grains, 5.5 ounces of protein foods, and 3 cups of dairy foods or plant-based equivalents
  • 2,400-calorie meal plan: 2 cups of fruits, 3 cups of vegetables, 8 ounces of grains, 6.5 ounces of protein foods, and 3 cups of dairy foods or plant-based equivalents

Add in healthy fats, including avocados, plant-based oils, nuts, seeds, and nut butter. Some patients benefit from taking phytoestrogen supplements if their provider recommends it. 

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Key Takeaways

Adding a good mix of high-estrogen foods to a heart-healthy meal plan provides an array of health and wellness benefits. Choose a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, soy-based foods, organic meats, dairy foods, nuts, seeds, coffees, and teas. Individuals should ask their provider if they're a candidate for phytoestrogen supplements.

Consuming high-estrogen foods in balanced amounts offers advantages for weight management and heart, bone, reproductive, hormone, and brain health. These foods may reduce bothersome menopause symptoms and the risk of cancer, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. 

To maximize overall health, moderation, and balance are key when it comes to consuming high-estrogen foods or dietary supplements.

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
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