Dietary Estrogen: What Are the Best Foods With Phytoestrogens for Menopause?

As you search for the combination of menopause remedies that works best for you, you’ve probably heard that “Nutrition is key.” And indeed, nutrition can be the coveted tiny gold key that unlocks the flower-patterned middle school diary of your health. Diet is important at any stage of your life, but arguably much more so during menopause. Eliminating or at least decreasing less-helpful foods from your diet, and adding more beneficial ones can not only give you the energy boost you need, but also help alleviate common menopausal symptoms. In fact, foods containing phytoestrogens, also known as dietary estrogen because of their compounds that mimic natural estrogen, can even help reduce the “rocky road” of hormone fluctuations. What those cans of spinach did for Popeye, these foods may do for you. So kiss those hot flashes goodbye with these helpful foods with phytoestrogens!

foods with phytoestrogens

What Are Plant Estrogens?

The word “phytoestrogen” literally means “plant estrogens.” If you’re eating fruits, veggies, legumes, and some grains, then congrats, you’re already getting some. If you want more relief from hot flashes, menstrual irregularities, and the like, increase your intake of those. Keep in mind, however, that not all phytoestrogens act in the same way in your body. Like anything else, phytoestrogens can be a helpful component to your health, but they’re not a one-size-fits all pair of mystical spandex.

What Are the Benefits of Phytoestrogens?

What are the pros of plant-based estrogens? Like the number of times I’ve forgotten why I’ve walked into a particular room, the answer is, “Many!” In addition to their ability to weather that rocky road of fluctuating menopause hormones into a tamer gravel-strewn path, foods with phytoestrogens also have these benefits:

  • Relieve hot flashes.
  • Prevent osteoporosis: Phytoestrogens can help strengthen your bones without the troublesome side effects of hormone replacement therapy.
  • Make menstruation a little more regular: if you’re bothered by irregular periods, adding more phytoestrogens to your diet can help even out your body’s supply of estrogen, thus making your periods more regular. (And thanks to menopause, you won’t have to worry about regular periods, because they’ll be gone entirely. Whoo-hoo!)
  • Decrease risk of breast cancer: According to, “a 2009 study  found that consuming soy foods decreased the risk of death and recurrence in women with breast cancer. Soy foods are rich in phytoestrogens. Another study in 2015  found that phytoestrogens inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells. However, a further 2015 study suggested the role of phytoestrogens in breast cancer survival is complex and depends on what stage of menopause a woman is in.” Furthermore, they state that “More research is needed to fully understand whether phytoestrogens could play a useful role in cancer prevention and treatment. Phytoestrogens are not appropriate for all types of cancer. Anyone considering taking phytoestrogens should discuss it with their doctor first.” That’s right, menopausal mavens, speak to your doctor. You may be sick of hearing us say it, but we don’t want you to get sick.

Why Is Dietary Estrogen Controversial? 

Certain phytoestrogens attach to estrogen receptors in your cells, cozying up to them like estrogen itself does and just like puppies who have cozied up to their favourite stuffed toy, making them breathe a sigh of relief. Others, however, act more like antiestrogens, decreasing the amount of estrogen in your body. In fact, the topic of phytoestrogens and their pros and cons is hotly debated these days. The evidence so far shows that if you consume the right phytoestrogens, you’re on the right track to better health. 

What Are the Best Foods With Phytoestrogens for Menopause?

I hear you saying, “Okay, I’d like the benefits, so just tell me what to eat already!” Soy, flaxseeds, fruits, vegetables, and grains are foods with phytoestrogens. Let’s dip into the phytoestrogen pool  and take a look at how each one benefits us during the perimenopause-to-postmenopause journey.


Soy foods like soybeans, tofu, miso, and tempeh contain phytoestrogens. According to the experts at, “Both soybeans and edamame have been linked to many health benefits and are rich in protein and many vitamins and minerals. They are also rich in phytoestrogens known as isoflavones.” Oh, i-so-favones, u-so-flavorful.


Not only do flaxseeds contain high levels of phytoestrogens, but they’re also a really good source of essential omega-3 fatty acids. Consider them a power food best snacked on frequently. Like the Marvel Universe character Moon Girl, they’re small but powerful, practically disappearing when blended into your favorite smoothie. In fact, mix them with sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, and walnuts for a tasty, nutty showing-my-body-some-love mouthful! 


Certain fruits, like apples, pomegranates, strawberries, cranberries, dates, prunes, apricots, and grapes contain the right kind of phytoestrogens. If you prefer them dried, you get fiber in addition to the phytoestrogens (and more sugar … now isn’t that sweet?)!

Peaches, in particular, are not only full of vitamins and minerals but also rich in phytoestrogens known as lignans. A 2009 review of studies found that lignan-rich diets may decrease the risk of breast cancer by 15 percent in postmenopausal women. Another added benefit of peaches: I can’t eat them without being reminded of the 1996 song by The Presidents of the United States, 🎶Millions of peaches / Peaches for me,🎶


You can get phytoestrogens from many vegetables, including:

  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Yams
  • Lentils
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Mung beans
  • Sprouts

Dr. Mariza Snyder, in her book Essential Oils Menopause Solution, provides a tasty recipe for a “Buddha Bowl” that combines many of these vegetables with a tasty Tahini dressing. Who knew getting your phytoestrogens could actually taste good?


Some grains, like oats, barley, and wheat germ, contain hormone-balancing phytoestrogens. I’m thinking a bowl of warm oatmeal sprinkled with a few strawberries or cranberries could make for a delicious breakfast to start your day off right. And because you’re an adult who can eat breakfast any time of the day, it’s a good afternoon snack, too!

It’s a Wrap!

And by “wrap,” we mean a whole wheat wrap filled with broccoli, tams, and sprouts! Getting what you need to smooth out your menopausal transition doesn’t have to be all bland pills or costly medications or supplements. Eating your phytoestrogens could be the tastiest—dare I say even funnest—way to give your body the support it needs.


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