Doctors Reveal The Best Vegetables To Help Women Balance Their Hormones

Over 80 percent of women suffer from a hormonal imbalance, and some women live with these imbalances without even realizing it; in fact, 70 percent are completely unaware of conditions like PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) that may have manifested due to hormonal irregularities, according to Northwell Health.

Hormones are chemicals produced by your endocrinal glands that help regulate your body, coordinating different functions by carrying messages through your blood to all your organs, muscles, and other tissues. They control your metabolism, homeostasis, growth and development, sexual function, reproduction, sleep-wake cycle, and mood.

But, can you prevent hormonal imbalances with your diet? We spoke to the doctors to find out what food is best to eat to improve your side effects.

The human body typically produces the precise amount of hormones required to keep you healthy. Sometimes, external factors like a sedentary lifestyle, stress, and an inadequate diet, as well as some internal factors like menopause or tumors, among others, can affect your balance, prompting your body to produce more or fewer hormones than it requires.

The most popular types of hormonal imbalances include:

  • Estrogen dominance
  • Thyroid hormone imbalance
  • Cortisol imbalance
  • Insulin imbalance
  • High testosterone
  • Low testosterone

When your hormonal balance is compromised, your entire body may endure the consequences, according to Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center. In fact, a slight imbalance in your hormones could cause fatigue, weight gain, constipation, and depression among other symptoms.

doctors' tips for hormonal imbalance
Stock image of a doctor and (inset) a bowl of vegetables and fruits. Newsweek has asked doctors about the best vegetables for hormonal imbalance. Getty Images

What Causes A Hormone Imbalance?

Hormonal imbalance has many possible causes—some to do with the environment around you and your eating and exercising habits, and some medical reasons too.

The most common reasons for this condition include having an unhealthy diet, excessive stress, medications including birth control, eating disorders like anorexia, and allergic reactions. Hormonal imbalance can also be caused by hormone therapy, tumors, injuries, and an overreactive thyroid, among other causes.

Dr. Amy Killen, regenerative medicine physician and medical advisor at Joi Women's Wellness, told Newsweek that the best way to start addressing most hormone problems is to focus on lifestyle.

She said: "Prioritize eating a healthy whole-food diet with plenty of vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and quality protein. Make sure you're getting aerobic exercise, for example, walking, swimming, biking, and resistance training at least four days a week.

"Prioritize sleep and aim for 6-8 hours each night. You might also work on reducing stress by adding stress management tools such as meditation, long walks in nature, time with friends, or breathwork."

The Best Vegetables For Hormone Imbalances

New York-based endocrinologist Dr. Rocio Salas-Whalen told Newsweek that the best vegetables for hormonal balance are low glycemic vegetables which minimize glucose spikes in our blood that can lead to insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, and inflammation.

That's because a spike in insulin levels can send ovaries the wrong message, prompting them to produce more testosterone, which can end up causing facial hair and acne. High insulin levels also lower sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), dumping estrogens in your system, which can lead to symptoms like sore breasts, fibroids, and heavy menses.

Dr. Susan Lovelle, founder and CEO at Premiere Wellness told Newsweek which vegetables she believes are best for women's hormonal balance, among others:

1. Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables, like cauliflower and broccoli, contain compounds that help the body metabolize excess estrogen, which can reduce symptoms of hormonal imbalances.

2. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens, like spinach and kale, are high in vitamins and minerals that support hormone and bone health, including vitamin E, calcium, and magnesium.

3. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene and other nutrients that support overall hormone health.

Berries, like strawberries, raspberries, and especially wild blueberries, are high in antioxidants and phytochemicals that can help regulate hormone levels and reduce inflammation.

4. Fiber-rich Foods

Avocados are rich in healthy fats, fiber, and vitamins that support hormone health, including vitamin B6, potassium, and vitamin E. Plus, they're great on toast!

Does Your Diet Really Help Your Hormone Imbalance?

Dr. Marcy Maguire, a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist, obstetrician, and gynecologist with the Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey, told Newsweek that a well-rounded diet is important to optimizing overall health.

Dr. Maguire said: "Studies have failed to show that specialty diets are able to improve fertility in the average woman. That being said, diets high in sugar and fat can lead to obesity, and obesity is definitely associated with decreased fertility."

According to the expert, patients with specific diagnoses may benefit from certain dietary changes. For instance, appropriate calorie restriction may improve fertility in obese women and a low-carb diet may help some individuals with polycystic ovarian disease resume ovulation.

"Diet most impacts hormonal balance through changes in insulin levels. Eating a healthy, well-rounded diet and maintaining appropriate portion sizes is key to optimizing overall health as well as fertility," she added.

Eating a diet rich in vegetables can help support hormone balance and reduce symptoms of hormonal imbalances, such as PMS (premenstrual syndrome), mood swings, and hot flushes.

According to Dr. Salas-Whalen, in order to keep your hormones balanced, you should try to eat as close to nature as possible. This means eating less processed food, and more organic fruits and vegetables, and avoiding pesticides. She said: "Minimal to no processed food."