There are some potential health benefits to estrogens in food, also known as phytoestrogens.
Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring compounds in many plant foods and at times acts similarly on the body as the hormone, estrogen (1), (2). These hormones can be beneficial for certain people. For example, they can help women going through menopause, and much more. Phytoestrogens can have a positive benefit for women in menopause because they can decrease the chance of developing symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and osteoporosis (3), (4), (5).
Foods high in phytoestrogen is associated with a reduced risk of developing obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and some types of cancer, such as breast and prostate cancer (6), (7), (8), (9) (10). High estrogen foods can be controversial, too. Although the majority of research on phytoestrogen shows positive health benefits, there is some concern that these foods may lead to endocrine disruption (11), (12).
All the foods on this list can be a healthy part of a balanced diet, but never eat too much of something because you think it might help certain symptoms you have. Overconsumption of any food, even if it is healthy, is never a good idea for anyone.
Summary: Estrogens in food, also known as phytoestrogens, are naturally occurring compounds in plant foods that may help certain people. They may reduce risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and may even help women going through menopause.
Table of Contents
Foods High in Estrogen
Check out the list of high estrogen foods below and see if you are consuming too much or too little of these healthy foods.
The consumption of certain fruits and vegetables shows to have a powerful effect on women’s health. Carrots are one of those vegetables because they are naturally high in phytoestrogens (1).
Eating carrots is also associated with a lower risk of developing breast cancer (13). Carrots are a powerful nutritional food that has many vitamins and minerals. They are naturally high in vitamin A, K, biotin, and B6, to name a few (14).
Their bright orange color indicates they are high in beta carotene, which the body can convert into vitamin A (15). Carrots are great to incorporate into your diet.
Summary: Carrots are naturally high in phytoestrogens, and have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Carrots are very nutritious and packed with antioxidants, vitamins A, B6, K, and biotin, and fiber. Snack on fresh carrots, roast them in olive oil for a tasty side, or mash them in place or regular potatoes.
2. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are another high estrogen food that is extremely healthy to incorporate into your diet (1).
Sweet potatoes also pack in a lot more nutrition. Like carrots, are naturally high in beta-carotene which the body can convert into vitamin A (16). They are also high in vitamin C, D, essential B vitamins, iron, potassium, phosphorus (17). They are great for gut health because of their high fiber content (18).
Summary: Sweet potatoes are not only packed with phytoestrogens, but vitamins A, C, D, B vitamins, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and fiber. Add them to soup or stew, or simply use them in place of regular potato recipes.
Yams are often thought to be sweet potatoes, but they are quite different (19). Although they look similar with slightly different skin colors, there are some key differences.
Both are from the tuber family, but yams are typically drier and starchier. Yams have a blackish-brown skin color and their flesh is a light purple hue. In one study of a group of healthy post-menopausal women, yams had a significant effect on the hormones in the body, including estrogen (20).
Summary: Yams, often confused for sweet potatoes, are blackish-brown in color with light purple skin. Yams are very high in phytoestrogens, and are easy to roast, sauté, or boil and mash.
Celery is a potent nutritional food to add to most diets. It is also particularly high in estrogen (1).
This vegetable is notably high in many vitamins and minerals, too. These include vitamins A, C, K, potassium, folate, and manganese (21).
With many nutrients, celery can healthful in many ways. Consumption of celery, along with many other vegetables, may help reduce risk of heart disease (22). Celery does have more sodium compared to other vegetables, but it is still relatively low sodium compared to most other foods.
Add the crunch of celery into your diet on occasion to benefit from the many vitamins and minerals. Adding some into your diet will only help your health thrive.
Summary: Celery is very nutritious and high in estrogen, vitamins A, C, K, potassium, folate, and manganese. Celery is crunchy and flavorful, making it easy to snack on or add to your favorite dishes.
Flaxseed are particularly high in estrogen (1). There is some evidence that flax may help post-menopausal women balance hormones in their body should they have irregular levels (23), (24).
Flaxseed is also extremely healthy because they are high in plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats can help to regulate hormones as well as promote brain health, reduce inflammation, and more (25), (26).
Summary: Flaxseeds are a powerful food high in estrogen, essential omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber. Add ground flaxseed to smoothies, oatmeal, muffins, pancakes, or even soups and stews.
Soybeans are another healthy food that is particularly high in estrogen (1).
These beans have high amounts of isoflavones, which is a phytoestrogen that is like human estrogen in the body, but weaker (27). The isoflavones in soybeans has some effects similar to estrogen, but it also has some effects that counter those of estrogen (28).
Soybeans are also high in healthy fats, like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that help decrease inflammation in the body (29). They are also an excellent source of plant-based protein and many vitamins and minerals (30).
Summary: Soybeans are rich in isoflavones, which has similar effects as estrogen. Soybeans are also rich in healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats which can reduce inflammation. They are also packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Wheat bran is high in phytoestrogens, especially lignans (31). This food can help to reduce estrogen levels in women. One reason for that may be the combination of phytoestrogens and fiber content (32). Fiber is necessary for optimal functioning in the body, and mediate estrogen levels (33).
However, those with celiac disease or wheat sensitivity can have adverse reactions when consuming wheat (34), (35). Consult with your doctor if you have any concerns about consuming wheat.
Summary: Wheat bran is high in phytoestrogens and lignans, which are precursors to estrogen. The powerful combination of phytoestrogens and fiber content of wheat bran can help reduce estrogen levels in women.
8. Chaste Berries and Pomegranates
Fruits like chaste berries and pomegranates are especially high in phytoestrogens (1). Chaste tree berry is one that shows to have specifically potent estrogenic effects (36).
There is preliminary evidence that pomegranates, specifically pomegranate juice, may have an effect on hormone levels (37). However, more research is needed to confirm this effect of pomegranates.
Pomegranates are also high in antioxidants that have many potential benefits, including reducing inflammation and reducing risk for many chronic diseases (38).
Summary: Chaste berries and pomegranates are very high in phytoestrogens. Pomegranates are very high in antioxidants as well, making them a perfect food to fight inflammation and reduce risk of chronic disease.
9. Some Other Fruits
Apples, peaches, pears, and nectarines are some other common fruits that are high in plant-derived phytoestrogen (1).
These fruits are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C and much more. They are also great options to get more fiber into your diet (39).
Adding fruits like these to your diet is one of the easiest things to do, too. Try to grab the fruit that is in-season for the sweetest and healthiest option. That way, you will be getting all the phytonutrient benefits from each fruit, as well as the phytoestrogens all year long.
Summary: Apples, peaches, pears, and nectarines also contain phytoestrogens. Make sure to eat fruit daily to reap the benefits of their phytonutrients, phytoestrogens, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Coffee is a strong food that is not only high in estrogen, but may also alter estrogen metabolism (1), (40). Another study found that premenopausal women who drank two cups of coffee per day had higher estrogen levels than those that did not (41).
However, more research is needed to fully understand the effects of caffeine on estrogen levels in women.
Summary: Coffee is very high in antioxidants, and also estrogen. More research is needed to evaluate the effects of caffeine on estrogen levels in women, but coffee can be a healthy drink if consumed in moderation, about 2 cups per day.
Many of the foods above are full of many nutrients like essential vitamins and minerals, but they are also high in estrogen.
Always listen to your body and what foods work best for you. Speak with your doctor or healthcare professional if you have any concerns about hormone changes or imbalances and see if they can help you find a health plan that can help you.