Low estrogen levels can cause unwanted side effects and drastically reduce your quality of life.

Whether you’re going through menopause, are breastfeeding, or undergo cancer treatment, eating foods high in estrogen can keep hormones balanced, allowing you to look and feel great at any age!

Why Hormone Balance is Important

Hormone balance, or having the proper amounts of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid hormone, is important to optimize body functions. Low estrogen, which is common with increasing age, can lead to the following side effects:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Low bone density
  • Vaginal dryness, burning, or itching
  • Urinary incontinence or recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Painful intercourse or bleeding during intercourse
  • Vaginal laxity or loss of breast fullness
  • Mood swings, depression, or problems concentrating
  • Hot flashes, chills, or night sweats
  • Headaches
  • Irregular periods
  • Thinning hair or dry skin

Eating foods high in estrogen can boost your levels to prevent or reduce these and other unpleasant symptoms.

In addition to lowering the risk of menopause symptoms, studies show eating foods high estrogen may help lower your chance of developing osteoporosis, heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and mental health disorders like depression or anxiety.

Causes of Low Estrogen

Low estrogen in women is often a result of aging. The following factors can increase your risk of low estrogen and other hormone imbalances:

  • Older age
  • Going through menopause
  • Breastfeeding
  • Surgical removal of both ovaries
  • Some birth control pills
  • Radiation therapy or chemotherapy for cancer treatment

Sometimes the cause of low estrogen isn’t entirely clear. Your doctor can let you know if your estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, or thyroid levels are within a healthy range and may offer treatments to get unbalanced hormones back on track.

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17 Foods High in Estrogen

Foods high in estrogen contain phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that are structurally similar to estrogen found in the human body. These foods help raise estrogen levels naturally, so you can look and feel your best.

Research shows that the main compounds in foods classified as phytoestrogens include:

  • Isoflavones
  • Stilbene
  • Coumestan
  • Lignans

Examples of healthy foods high in estrogen to consider adding to daily meal plans include:

1. Soybeans

Soybeans are a source of isoflavones, and one of the best foods high in estrogen you'll find. These nutritious legumes are also loaded with protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

Try roasting soybeans with olive oil and salt, eating steamed edamame, or topping a cold salad with soybeans. Add soybeans to soups or stir fry too.

Studies show that soy can reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol, improve bone health, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, lower your risk of breast and prostate cancers, improve kidney function, alleviate depression, and optimize skin health.

2. Other Legumes

In addition to soybeans, other legumes are classified as foods high in estrogen. Examples include lentils, chickpeas, pinto beans, and other dried beans.

Legumes are loaded with protein and fiber, making these foods an excellent choice for weight management and maintaining optimal overall health.

Add beans to soups, salads, chili, or eat them as a side dish for the starch portion of your perfect plate. A perfect plate is half full of non-starchy vegetables, one-fourth full of protein foods, and one-fourth full of starchy foods.

3. Tofu

Because protein-rich tofu is made of soybeans, this food high in estrogen is an excellent source of isoflavones.

When using the perfect plate method for healthy meal planning, choose tofu as a protein food of choice to boost estrogen naturally and improve overall health and wellness.

Try grilling it, baking it, or sautéing tofu in olive oil. Add tofu to stir fry, soups, grilled kabobs, or salads.

4. Fermented Soy Foods

Tempeh and miso are fermented products made of estrogen-rich soybeans.

Like other soy products, these foods are loaded with protein, fiber, and phytoestrogens.

Try tempeh or miso with brown rice, salads, soups, sandwiches, or as the main protein for your perfect plate.

5. Soy Milk and Soy Yogurt

Soy milk and yogurt are excellent foods high in estrogen when you want to boost your body's estrogen levels naturally.

These soy-based foods are loaded with protein and calcium, which is crucial for optimal bone health and preventing osteoporosis in women.

6. Soy Protein Powder

Soy powder is a concentrated source of isoflavones, making it a perfect protein-rich option for boosting estrogen in your body.

Try mixing soy protein powder with cereals, yogurt, or milk, or make a protein smoothie with fruit or oatmeal.

7. Sprouts

Alfalfa and soybean sprouts are good sources of estrogen-boosting lignans and fiber.

Try adding sprouts to salads, or blending them with your next soy protein smoothie.

8. Grapes

Grapes are a source of stilbene in the form of resveratrol, which also works as a powerful antioxidant that protects you from chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative impairments.

Snack on grapes between meals as a snack or add them to salads, yogurt, oatmeal, or fruit salads.

9. Other Fruits

Studies show that in addition to grapes, other fruits are good sources of phytoestrogens.

Examples include berries, especially chasteberries, apples, peaches, and pomegranate. Many types of dried fruit are also good sources of phytoestrogens.

Add these fruits to soy protein smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, or eat them as a nutritious between-meal snack to increase your body’s estrogen levels naturally.

10. Peanuts

Peanuts are a source of estrogen-boosting lignans. While peanuts aren't low-calorie foods, studies show they don’t contribute to obesity or unwanted weight gain.

Peanuts are loaded with protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

Add peanuts to salads or snack on them between meals.

11. Seeds

Like peanuts, sesame and flax seeds are sources of estrogen-rich lignans.

Consider taking a flax supplement, sprinkle seeds on salads or oatmeal, or use flax powder in soups or protein shakes to get your estrogen levels back on track.

12. Green Vegetables

Incorporating numerous green veggies into your diet daily is an excellent way to help counteract low estrogen associated with aging.

Examples of foods with estrogen-like activity include broccoli, cabbage, celery, and spinach.

Add these veggies to soups, salads, or eat them as a side dish or snack. Try powdered greens in a soy protein shake.

13. Orange Vegetables

Like green veggies, many orange vegetables also offer benefits associated with estrogen-like activity.

Examples of orange foods rich phytoestrogens include carrots and sweet potatoes.

Consider including these veggies in each of your well-balanced daily meal plans.

14. Whole Grains

Whole grains aren’t just rich in fiber and micronutrients, some grains are foods high in estrogen.

Examples include wheat germ, oats, rice, and barley.

Add these grains to your meal plan as part of a perfect plate. For example, fill one-fourth of each plate with starches like whole grains, starchy vegetables, or legumes.

15. Garlic

Studies show that garlic is another healthy food high in estrogen-like activity that can boost levels in your body naturally.

You can add garlic to just about any favorite main course to enhance flavor, or take a garlic supplement.

16. Coffee and Tea

Coffee and tea are both sources of estrogen-boosting lignans.

These drinks are very low in calories and caffeine in them can boost energy and keep your metabolism high.

Replacing sugary drinks with black coffee or unsweetened tea can also enhance weight loss.

Add these low-calorie drinks to daily meals plan to increase dietary phytoestrogens and boost estrogen in your body.

17. Certain Herbs

Phytoestrogens are also found in many medicinal herbs, including red clover, black cohosh, hops, licorice, and turmeric.

Many of these herbs are available in supplement form. Some natural supplements designed to reduce menopause symptoms in women contain one or more of these foods high in estrogen as ingredients.

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Additional Ways to Boost Estrogen

Eating foods high in estrogen isn’t the only way to increase estrogen levels and reduce unpleasant symptoms of low estrogen.

Additional options include:

Dietary Supplements

Certain dietary supplements containing natural ingredients help boost estrogen levels naturally. Ask your doctor which estrogen-boosting supplements are right for you.

Hormone Therapy

If eating foods high in estrogen and taking dietary supplements haven’t worked and your hormone levels are still low, your doctor can prescribe hormone replacement therapy.

What this means is you take supplemental estrogen in the form of a pill, patch, gel, cream, or slow-releasing suppository.

Your doctor monitors estrogen and other hormone levels within your body regularly using a simple blood test and adjusts hormone replacement therapy dosages accordingly.

Weight Loss and Estrogen

Low estrogen levels can increase your risk of weight gain, but there are several ways you can counteract this process and keep your metabolism high.

Examples include:

Get Daily Physical Activity

While taking a day or two off from working out is perfectly acceptable, working out most days of the week is the key to maintaining lean muscle mass and burning off enough calories to prevent unwanted weight gain.

Combine strength training workouts with aerobic exercises to optimize fat burning.

In addition to planned exercise, keep your body moving throughout the entire day by choosing active hobbies or house chores. Clean the floors, go roller skating or swimming with your kids, or do yard work to keep your metabolism high.

Divide Your Plate

Use the perfect plate method to divide your meals into food groups and make each meal well-balanced.

  • Fill half of each plate with non-starchy vegetables. Examples include leafy greens, green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini.
  • Fill one-fourth of your plate with protein foods like tofu, tempeh, eggs, chicken, turkey, fish, seafood, bison, venison, and other very lean meats.
  • Fill one-fourth of each plate with starches. Examples include whole grains, legumes, corn, peas, or sweet potatoes.

Aim to eat two to three servings of dairy foods or soy-based equivalents each day. Add two servings of fruits, and include nutritious fats like olive oil, other plant-based oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, fish oil, nut butters, and olives, at each meal.

Limit Calories

Track your calorie intake to limit calories for weight loss. Ways you to eat fewer calories without calorie counting include:

  • 1. Drink two cups of water before each meal.
  • 2. Eat non-starchy vegetables first during mealtime.
  • 3. Eat protein foods next.
  • 4. Eat starchy foods and fats last.
  • 5. Fill up on protein shakes before or after workouts.

Consider Supplements

Taking dietary supplements for women, in addition to natural estrogen-boosting supplements, can help you feel full from fewer calories, improve your overall health, and keep energy levels high.

Examples of supplements to consider include multivitamin supplements, protein shakes or bars, probiotics, fish oil supplements, and fiber supplements. Ask your doctor which dietary supplements are right for you.

Sleep, Sleep, Sleep

Prioritize sleep to keep your appetite in check and your energy levels high.

Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.

Sleep in a dark cool room, set a regular bedtime, and avoid eating a lot or working out right before bed. Reduce stress whenever possible and use a white sound machine if you're a light sleeper.

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See Your Doctor Regularly

The best way to ensure estrogen levels stay balanced is to see your doctor regularly. They complete blood work to monitor estrogen and other hormones, and offer treatments whenever necessary.

Low thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism), which is more common in women than men, can also cause fatigue, hair changes, and weight gain. That's why routine medical checkups are important.

Eating foods high in estrogen is one of the best ways to prevent low estrogen and negative side effects associated with it, so you can enjoy life to its fullest. Add soy foods, a variety of fruits and vegetables, coffee, tea, nuts, seeds, garlic, and whole grains to your shopping list to get started today.

Erin Coleman, B.S. - Nutritional Science, Registered Dietician, Licenced Dietician

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on foods high in estrogen.

References

1. The National Center for Biotechnology Information: Soy and Health Update: Evaluation of the Clinical and Epidemiologic Literature

2. Mayo Clinic: Vaginal Atrophy

3. Mayo Clinic: Menopause

4. Mayo Clinic: Hormone Therapy: Is It Right For You?

5. Mayo Clinic: Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid)

6. The National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Potential Health Effects of Dietary Phytoestrogens

7. The National Center for Biotechnology Information: Phytoestrogens and Their Health Effect

8. U.S. Pharmacist: Focus on Phytoestrogens

9. The National Center for Biotechnology Information: Resveratrol: A Double-Edged Sword in Health Benefits

10. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Chasteberry

11. The National Center for Biotechnology Information: Peanuts as Functional Food: A Review

12. Medical News Today: How Do Phytoestrogens Work?

13. The National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of Pre-meal Water Consumption on Energy Intake and Satiety in Non-obese Young Adults

14. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

15. The National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Impact of Telephonic Wellness Coaching on Weight Loss: A “Natural Experiments for Translation in Diabetes (NEXT-D)” Study

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