Avocados are rich in a number of nutrients, particularly vitamins, fatty acids and compounds called plant sterols. The plant sterols in avocados have an effect on hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone, which are both responsible for regulating ovulation and menstrual cycles. Avocados do not contain these hormones, but they tend to block estrogen absorption and promote progesterone production in women. Consult with your doctor if you have a hormone imbalance and ask how dietary factors can help or aggravate your condition.
Progesterone is a female hormone responsible for regulating ovulation and menstrual cycles. During pregnancy, progesterone levels are high, which triggers physiological changes needed to accommodate a growing fetus. On the other hand, progesterone levels sometimes become too low during menopause, which contributes to symptoms such as hot flashes. Consequently, progesterone is offered as hormone replacement therapy to women who are postmenopausal and not menstruating or ovulating regularly, according to MedlinePlus. Progesterone is also used to stimulate menstruation in women of childbearing age. Stress and anxiety can lead to progesterone deficiency in women of childbearing years, which is linked to the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome or PMS.
Hormone imbalance, especially estrogen dominance, may be associated with increased risks of osteoporosis and certain cancers, specifically cancers of the cervix, uterus, ovaries and possibly the breasts, according to the "American Cancer Society Complete Guide to Complementary and Alternative Cancer Therapies." However, estrogen therapy is commonly given to women in order to combat the symptoms of menopause and PMS. Research indicates that progesterone helps to alleviate postmenopausal and PMS symptoms without increasing the risk of cancer, according to the "Natural Standard Herb & Supplement Reference." Furthermore, unlike estrogen therapy, progesterone does not cause abnormal thickening of the uterus. Some foods, such as soy and dairy products, promote estrogen production, whereas wild yams and avocados promote progesterone production.
Properties of Avocado
Avocados are considered an antiestrogenic food, which means they contain plant sterols that block estrogen receptors on cells and reduce estrogen absorption in your body, according to the book "Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy." As a consequence of blocking estrogen, progesterone levels in women and testosterone levels in men are both increased. High levels of estrogen have been linked to weight gain, but avocados can promote weight loss by balancing hormone levels despite the fact they are high in fats.
Uses of Avocado Oil
Avocados do not contain progesterone, but they have an ability to alter progesterone levels in your body, which is why they are often used in products for PMS and menopausal symptoms. For example, avocado oil is a common ingredient in "progesterone creams," which are marketed as being able to help with PMS and prostate issues. These creams rarely contain progesterone; rather, they are meant to reduce or balance estrogen levels and lessen the symptoms of estrogen-related issues. Avocado oil is a concentrated source of plant sterols, so eating a few slices of avocado or a small portion of guacamole is unlikely to affect your hormone levels in any significant way.
- MedlinePlus; Progesterone
- American Cancer Society Complete Guide to Complementary and Alternative Cancer Therapies; American Cancer Society
- Natural Standard Herb & Supplement Reference: Evidence-based Clinical Reviews; Catherine E. Ulbricht, et al.
- Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine; Simon Mills and Kerry Bone