Anti-Estrogenic Diet

Steamed brocolli
Steamed brocoli florets. (Image: Christina Norwood/iStock/Getty Images)

The idea behind the Anti-Estrogenic diet is that high levels of estrogen increase your risk for hormone-related conditions, such as fibroids, menopausal symptoms, premenstrual syndrome, endometriosis and cancer. Changing your diet to include fewer foods that increase estrogen levels in your body and more foods that decrease estrogen is meant to minimize symptoms of estrogen imbalance, including chronic fatigue, inability to tolerate stress and reduced libido. Research backs up the idea that dietary changes can affect estrogen levels, but this doesn't necessarily mean that these changes will treat or cure any conditions.

Foods to Eat

Nuts and seeds, olives, fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, organic eggs, wild-caught fish, low-fat yogurt, aged cheese and whole grains are recommended on an anti-estrogenic diet. Coffee, tea, citrus fruits, avocados and cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cabbage, may be particularly beneficial.

Foods to Minimize

Limit the amount of meat, pasta and bread you eat on an anti-estrogenic diet. Being overweight can increase the amount of estrogen in your body, so avoid high-fat foods. Animal fats tend to have more of an adverse effect than vegetable fats, notes the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, so get your fat from healthy vegetarian sources, such as olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds.

Scientific Basis

A study published in "The Journal of Nutrition" in 2006 measured the effects of various diet and lifestyle factors on estrogen levels. The study found that caffeine, alcohol, smoking and body size can increase estrogen levels, while fruit, polyphenol-rich foods such as berries, and fiber may decrease estrogen levels. Coffee and green tea didn't adversely affect estrogen levels, even though they contain caffeine. This seems to fall somewhat in line with the recommendations for an anti-estrogenic diet.

Beneficial Dietary Patterns

A study published in "Nutrition and Cancer" in 2006 found that women who followed a traditional Mediterranean diet for six months were able to decrease their estrogen levels by over 40 percent compared to the control group, who continued eating their regular diets. A Mediterranean diet limits red meat, sweets, eggs and butter while emphasizing foods like olive oil, seafood, fruits, vegetables and grains. Another potentially beneficial eating pattern is a diet low in fat and high in fiber. A study published in the "Journal of Clinical Oncology" in 2004 found that this type of diet reduced levels of estradiol, a form of estrogen, even without weight loss.

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