Foods That Raise Estrogen

Foods That Raise Estrogen
Doctor, researcher or scientist browsing the internet on a tablet for information while working at a lab, science facility or hospital. Expert, medical professional or surgeon searching the internet

Many readers are interested in the following topic: 11 Foods High in Phytoestrogens. We are happy to note, that our authors have already studied the modern research about the topic you are interested in. Based on the information provided in the latest medical digests, modern research and surveys, we provide extensive answer. Keep reading to find out more.

Research has found that phytoestrogens have both estrogenic and antiestrogenic effects. This means that some phytoestrogens have estrogen-like effects and increase estrogen levels in your body, while others block the hormone’s effects and decrease estrogen levels ( 3 ).

Top Foods High in Estrogen

Estrogen is an important naturally-occurring hormone. It’s key to women’s sexual and reproductive development. It may support heart-healthy and anti-cancer effects for women and men. Estrogen levels are higher in women, but the evidence is that good levels are also important for men’s health. Research shows estrogen may support bone health, mood regulation, and a lower cancer risk in both genders.

Phytoestrogens are a form of dietary estrogen we get from food. Research is ongoing into the effects of these plant-based nutrients. Studies indicate they can mimic or enhance the natural hormone’s health benefits.

While most research points to positive effects, in some cases phytoestrogens can block or disrupt estrogen in your body. It’s important to talk to your doctor about managing your hormone levels with your diet.

Why You Need Estrogen

Estrogen’s main function is to control reproductive changes in women, but it serves other roles in both male and female bodies, including:

  • Heart and blood vessel support
  • Bone strength
  • Brain protection and mood regulation

Our estrogen levels can change for many reasons. For some, managing these effects may require treatment such as hormone replacement therapy.

The phytoestrogens in foods may help support estrogen’s natural functions. Research shows these nutrients are linked to several health benefits, including:

Menopausal Relief in Women

Women’s estrogen levels decrease with age, causing changes in the body referred to as menopause. Studies show that phytoestrogens can help relieve some of menopause’s physical symptoms, like the frequency of hot flashes and vaginal dryness.

Improved Bone Health

Estrogens help maintain healthy bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis in both men and women. Studies show that phytoestrogens from food may support this effect, improving long-term bone health.

May Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Studies show phytonutrients may help manage cholesterol. Maintaining good cholesterol levels keeps your arteries free from fatty build-up, reducing the risk of heart problems and stroke.

May Reduce the Risk of Cancers

According to research, higher estrogen and phytoestrogen levels are associated with lower rates of breast cancer. Phytoestrogens have also been shown to kill prostate cancer cells, an effect scientists continue to study for the nutrients’ use in cancer prevention or management.

Foods With Estrogen

Many types of food-based phytoestrogens are studied for their potential health benefits. These include:

Each of these phytoestrogens has antioxidant properties. This means that in addition to the nutrients’ potential health benefits, they fight cell damage in our bodies linked to a wide range of chronic diseases.

The best dietary sources of phytoestrogens include:

1. Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are the richest dietary source of lignans (polyphenols found in plants). Researchers believe they lower breast cancer risk. You can sprinkle flaxseeds on many dishes, bake them into bread and cookies, or blend them into smoothies and spreads.

2. Soy

Soy contains high levels of isoflavones, phytoestrogens that may mimic estrogen’s effects and reduce the risk of both breast and prostate cancer. Soy is also rich in a range of essential vitamins and minerals. It can support heart health as an alternative to red and processed meats. It’s also extremely versatile — you can include soy in your diet with foods like tofu, tempeh, edamame, and soymilk.

3. Peaches

Because of their high lignan content, studies show that eating two servings of peaches or nectarines a week reduces a woman’s breast cancer risk. Researchers find similar effects from consuming blueberries and strawberries.

4. Garlic

Regular garlic consumption can help lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and prevent clots — all heart disease risk factors. Research shows garlic can influence estrogen levels in the body, perhaps helping reduce age-related bone loss. But more research is needed to study this effect.

5. Red Wine

Red wine is rich in resveratrol, a phytoestrogen researchers believe reduces heart disease risk by regulating cholesterol levels. Another study found that phytoestrogens in red wine may stop cancer cell growth, particularly among postmenopausal women.

6. Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are easy to add to almost any meal — and they may help improve your cholesterol levels. Studies show they affect estrogen levels, with potent antioxidant activity fighting chronic disease risk factors.

Vegetables like broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and kale contain phytoestrogens with anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Diets rich in cruciferous vegetables are also associated with lower risk of many chronic diseases, including heart problems.

Nuts like cashews, almonds, peanuts, and pistachios are a great source of heart-healthy phytoestrogens. They’re easy to add to your diet. But because most nuts are high in calories and fat, be sure to limit your portions to the recommended serving size.

11 Foods High in Phytoestrogens

Certain plants and seeds, including berries and flaxseeds, contain compounds that function as phytoestrogens.

Estrogen is a hormone that has many functions in the body, including promoting sexual and reproductive development.

While it is present in people of all ages, females of reproductive age usually have higher levels of this hormone.

Estrogen carries out a range of functions, including regulating the menstrual cycle and the growth and development of breasts ( 1 ).

Estrogen levels decline during menopause. This can lead to symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.

Phytoestrogens, also known as dietary estrogen, are naturally occurring plant compounds that may function similarly to the estrogen the human body produces.

Here are 11 significant sources of dietary estrogens.

Bowl of flax seeds

Phytoestrogens have a similar chemical structure to estrogen and may mimic its hormonal actions.

Phytoestrogens attach to estrogen receptors in your cells, potentially affecting the function of estrogen throughout your body ( 2 ).

However, not all phytoestrogens function in the same way.

Research has found that phytoestrogens have both estrogenic and antiestrogenic effects. This means that some phytoestrogens have estrogen-like effects and increase estrogen levels in your body, while others block the hormone’s effects and decrease estrogen levels ( 3 ).

Because of their complex actions, phytoestrogens are a controversial topic in nutrition and health.

While some researchers have raised concerns that a high intake of phytoestrogens may cause hormonal imbalance, most evidence has linked them to positive health effects.

In fact, multiple studies have associated phytoestrogen intake after menopause with decreased cholesterol levels, reduced menopausal symptoms, and a lower risk of osteoporosis and certain types of cancer, including breast cancer ( 4 , 5 , 6 ).

However, some researchers suggest that the beneficial effects may be small, and studies that demonstrate long-term results are still needed ( 6 ).


Phytoestrogens may have either estrogenic or antiestrogenic effects. Most available research links phytoestrogens to a variety of health benefits.

Flax seeds are small golden or brown seeds that have recently gained popularity because of their potential health benefits.

They’re incredibly rich in lignans, chemical compounds that function as phytoestrogens. In fact, flax seeds contain up to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods ( 7 , 8 ).

Studies suggest that the phytoestrogens found in flax seeds may play an important role in decreasing the risk of breast cancer, especially in postmenopausal women ( 9 , 10 ).


Flax seeds are a rich source of lignans, chemical compounds that function as phytoestrogens. Eating flax seeds has been associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer.

Soybeans can be processed into many plant-based products, such as tofu and tempeh. They can also be enjoyed whole as edamame.

Edamame beans are green, immature soybeans that are often sold frozen in their inedible pods.

Both soybeans and edamame have been linked to many health benefits and are rich in protein and many vitamins and minerals ( 11 , 12 ).

They are also rich in phytoestrogens known as isoflavones.

Soy isoflavones can produce estrogen-like activity in the body by mimicking the effects of natural estrogen. They may increase or decrease blood estrogen levels ( 13 ).

Research suggests that soy isoflavones may help make hot flashes less frequent and less severe. Additionally, eating a diet rich in soy early in life may lower breast cancer risk, but this effect has not been demonstrated in low soy diets such as the typical Western diet ( 14 ).

Soy isoflavone supplements may also benefit bone health after menopause ( 14 ).

The effect of soy isoflavones on human estrogen levels is complex. Ultimately, more research is needed before health experts can draw conclusions.


Soybeans and edamame are rich in isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen. Soy isoflavones may affect blood estrogen levels in your body, although more research is needed.

Dried fruits are nutrient-rich, delicious, and easy to enjoy as a no-fuss snack.

They are also a potent source of various phytoestrogens ( 15 ).

Dates, prunes, and dried apricots are a few of the dried fruits highest in phytoestrogens ( 16 ).

What’s more, dried fruits are chock-full of fiber and other important nutrients that make them a healthy snack ( 17 , 18 , 19 ).


Dried fruits are potent sources of phytoestrogens. Dried apricots, dates, and prunes are some of the dried fruits with the highest phytoestrogen content.

Sesame seeds are small, fiber-packed seeds that are commonly incorporated into Asian dishes to add a delicate crunch and nutty flavor.

They are also quite rich in phytoestrogens, among other important nutrients.

Interestingly, a small 2006 study found that the consumption of sesame seed powder may affect estrogen levels in postmenopausal women ( 20 ).

Study participants consumed 50 grams of sesame seed powder daily for 5 weeks. This not only increased estrogen activity but also improved blood cholesterol levels ( 20 ).


Sesame seeds are a potent source of phytoestrogens. Regularly eating sesame seeds has been shown to increase estrogen activity in postmenopausal women.

Garlic is a popular ingredient that adds a pungent flavor and aroma to dishes.

It’s not only touted for its culinary attributes but also renowned for its health properties.

Although studies on the effects of garlic in humans are limited, multiple animal studies suggest that it may influence blood estrogen levels ( 21 , 22 , 23 ).

Additionally, in a small 1-month study in 2012, postmenopausal women who took garlic supplements had lower scores on a blood test for inflammation ( 24 ).

This anti-inflammatory effect may offer protection against bone loss related to estrogen deficiency, though more research is needed ( 24 ).


In addition to offering a distinctive taste and health benefits, garlic is rich in phytoestrogens and may help reduce bone loss related to estrogen deficiency. However, more research in humans is needed.

Peaches are a sweet fruit with yellowish or white flesh and fuzzy skin.

They are not only packed with vitamins and minerals but also rich in phytoestrogens known as lignans ( 25 ).

Interestingly, a 2009 analysis of studies suggests that lignan-rich diets may decrease the risk of breast cancer by 15% in postmenopausal females. However, more research is needed to understand the potential benefits ( 26 ).


Peaches are sweet, delicious, and packed with a variety of nutrients. They are rich in lignans, a type of phytoestrogen.

Berries have long been touted for their many impressive health benefits.

They’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and beneficial plant compounds, including phytoestrogens.

Strawberries, cranberries, and raspberries are all rich sources ( 25 , 27 ).


Many berries — including strawberries, cranberries, and raspberries — are rich in phytoestrogens.

Wheat bran is another concentrated source of phytoestrogens, particularly lignans ( 28 ).

The results of an animal study suggest that milling wheat bran into very tiny “micronized” particles could cause it to raise blood estrogen levels more effectively when eaten ( 29 ).

But ultimately, more research is needed to understand wheat bran’s effect on circulating estrogen levels in humans.


Wheat bran is rich in phytoestrogens. More studies are needed to investigate its effects on blood estrogen levels in humans.

Tofu is made from coagulated soy milk pressed into firm white blocks. It’s a popular plant-based protein source, especially in vegan and vegetarian diets.

It’s also a concentrated source of phytoestrogens, largely isoflavones.

Tofu has one of the highest levels of isoflavone content of any soy product. And while soy milk has lower isoflavone levels, it’s still a good source (30).


Tofu is made from soy milk condensed into solid white blocks. It’s a rich source of isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen.

Cruciferous vegetables are a large group of plants with diverse flavors, textures, and nutrients.

Broccoli, cabbage, and collard greens are all cruciferous vegetables rich in phytoestrogens (31).

Broccoli is rich in secoisolariciresinol, a type of lignan phytoestrogen ( 32 ).

Brussels sprouts are rich in coumestrol, another type of phytonutrient that has been found to exhibit estrogenic activity ( 33 ).


Cruciferous vegetables are rich in phytoestrogens, including lignans and coumestrol.

Tempeh, a fermented soy product, is a popular vegetarian meat replacement.

It’s made from whole soybeans that have been fermented and pressed into a firm, dense cake.

Tempeh is not only an excellent source of protein, prebiotics, vitamins, and minerals but also a very rich source of phytoestrogens, especially isoflavones (34, 35 ).


Tempeh is a common vegetarian meat replacement made of fermented soybeans. Like other soy products, tempeh is rich in isoflavones.

The health benefits of consuming phytoestrogen-rich foods likely outweigh the potential risks, so these foods can be consumed safely in moderation.

However, limited research suggests that a high intake of phytoestrogens may be associated with some risks and complications. These findings are mixed and inconclusive, so more research in humans is necessary.

Thus, it is advisable to be skeptical of any strong conclusions about the dangers of phytoestrogens.

People have raised the following potential concerns about phytoestrogens:

  • Infertility: While some research states that phytoestrogens may harm reproductive health, the bulk of it has been conducted on animal models, and strong human studies are lacking. One large study of women trying to become pregnant found no strong links between phytoestrogen intake and pregnancy rates ( 36 , 37 , 38 , 39 ).
  • Breast cancer: Limited research suggests a link between phytoestrogens and an increased risk of breast cancer. However, some studies have observed the opposite — that high phytoestrogen intake may be linked to a decreased risk. One study suggests that phytoestrogen intake may improve breast cancer survival rates ( 40 , 41 ).
  • Effects on testosterone in men: Contrary to popular belief, studies have shown that phytoestrogen intake has no effect on testosterone or other androgens in men ( 42 ).
  • Decreased thyroid function: Some research associates intake of soy isoflavones with decreased thyroid hormone production. However, most studies in healthy adults have found no significant effects ( 43 , 44 , 45 ).

While weak evidence from animal studies suggests that phytoestrogens may be linked to these complications, many human studies have not found evidence of this.

Additionally, many studies have associated phytoestrogen intake with potential health benefits, including lower cholesterol levels, reduced menopausal symptoms, and a decreased risk of osteoporosis and breast cancer ( 4 , 5 , 6 , 46 ).


Some animal studies have identified potential health risks associated with phytoestrogen intake, but strong human research is lacking. Conversely, many studies have linked phytoestrogen intake to multiple health benefits and protective effects.

Phytoestrogens are found in a wide variety of plant foods.

To boost your phytoestrogen intake, you can try incorporating some of the nutritious and delicious foods listed in this article into your diet.

In most cases, the benefits of including these phytoestrogen-rich foods in your diet outweigh any potential health risks.

Just one thing

Try this today: Did you know that tempeh is an incredibly rich source of phytoestrogens? If this food is new to you, you can find some recipe ideas in this article.