Jul 13, 2023 • 9 min read

Best Foods to Balance Hormones 

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Hormones are small molecules that act as chemical messengers in the human body. They are produced by the endocrine glands and travel throughout the bloodstream acting on cells, organs, and tissue to exert a specific effect. 

There are more than 50 human hormones already identified. We know that in women, estrogen, progesterone, and others made by the ovaries, work together with luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) to regulate menstrual periods and achieve pregnancy. Other hormones regulate libido, metabolism, and additional bodily functions. 

You may suspect that your hormones are out of balance if your periods are irregular, you suffer from hot flashes, or you can’t get pregnant. PCOS and endometriosis may also be impacted by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. 

If you’re struggling with hormonal regulation, you may be wondering if there are foods you can eat to assist you in having a stable and balanced hormonal system. There are actually many foods that can help restore hormone balance, such as avocados, leafy green vegetables, olive oil, and some nuts and seeds. 

This guide will go over the different foods you can eat to help you have a restored and balanced hormonal system. You’ll also learn about foods to avoid because they may contribute to hormone imbalance in women. 

Foods that may help with balancing hormones

It can be difficult to balance hormones with medications. Medications prescribed by doctors are appropriate for select women who have severe hormonal imbalances. Most women, however, don’t need such intensive treatment for their hormonal dysregulation. These women can use foods that help the body make the needed hormones naturally. 

Let’s look at the foods known to help improve hormonal dysregulation and balance hormones naturally:

  • Flaxseeds. Flaxseeds appear to have benefits for women with PCOS. Taking flaxseeds promotes improved metabolic parameters that result in more weight loss and improved fertility
  • Broccoli. Broccoli and other members of the Brassica family are known to promote enhanced liver health and reduce the chances of having metabolic liver disease. This can help women with PCOS balance their hormones. In addition, eating broccoli can help restore the gut microbiome, which improves metabolic health. 
  • Avocados. Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats. They can lower cholesterol and triglycerides, decreasing your risk of heart disease. They can help in reducing inflammation and allow you to build hormones naturally. 
  • Salmon. Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, essential for many aspects of health. The protein in salmon and other low-mercury fish enhances satiety and does not cause blood sugar fluctuations. 
  • Quinoa. Quinoa can balance hormones by reducing blood sugar, improving the lipid profile, and reducing belly fat. These are important effects that may improve PCOS symptoms and outcomes. 
  • Spinach. Spinach and other leafy greens provide a wide array of phytonutrients. When eaten regularly by women with PCOS, spinach can reduce belly fat and improve the metabolic profile, leading to enhanced hormone balance
  • Almonds. Almonds are an excellent snack option for women. They suppress appetite and reduce blood sugar fluctuations without contributing to weight gain. 
  • Chia seeds. Chia seeds are excellent sources of fiber because they take on water, allowing for enhanced GI function. When you eat them, they may have an anti-inflammatory effect and could enhance blood pressure regulation. Chia seeds are also helpful in reducing wide swings in blood sugar. 
  • Turkey. Turkey contains tryptophan, which is an amino acid precursor in the production of several important mood and appetite neurotransmitters. When these neurotransmitters are balanced, you may have improved sleep and reduced snacking. 
  • Blueberries. Blueberries are high in antioxidants, which reduce stress on the cells. They have been shown to enhance female and male fertility.
  • Olive oil. Olive oil is loaded with polyunsaturated fats that help to lower inflammation and reduce belly fat. It has been shown to be toxic to breast cancer cells, which may mean that it improves the hormone balance for women with estrogen-sensitive cancers like breast cancer. 
  • Lentils. Lentils are high in fiber and an excellent source of starch. They reduce blood sugar fluctuations, lower belly fat content, and protect the gut microbiome. These can help restore your body’s natural hormone levels. 
  • Greek yogurt. Yogurt is a fermented food that contains healthy probiotics. This maximizes your gut microbiome and allows for natural hormone rebuilding. 
  • Green tea. Green tea is high in antioxidants, which means it aids in maximizing cellular health. For women with PCOS, green tea can reduce insulin resistance and may help enhance metabolism. 
  • Pomegranates. These are high in antioxidants and protect against high blood sugar and belly fat. They can be beneficial in correcting the inflammatory states that prevent normal hormonal balance. 
  • Eggs. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and contain choline for brain health. Eggs also suppress appetite and contribute to weight loss by keeping you fuller for longer. 
  • Tofu. Soy isoflavones are a major component of tofu. They help balance female hormones in menopausal women and promote reduced body fat levels as they contain very little added fat (side note: find menopause nutritionists here). This alone can help women with PCOS have more balanced hormone levels. 
  • Fermented foods. Fermented foods like yogurt, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, and kimchi add healthy probiotics to maximize your gut health. Good gut health means less inflammation and improved hormonal levels. 
  • Cinnamon. Cinnamon comes in several types. Most contain coumarin which contributes to its anti-inflammatory properties. It stabilizes blood sugar, promotes reduced body fat, and reduces lipid levels. 

In general, when inflammation is reduced, you will have a more optimal environment for reducing stress on the cells of your body. This allows your hormones to naturally balance. In women with PCOS, reduced body fat means improved hormone levels and fewer symptoms. 

While most foods are safe to eat in moderation, the foods to help your specific condition may not be the same ones to help another person with similar issues. Because balancing hormones using food is sometimes complex, you would benefit from the advice of your healthcare provider or a hormone health nutritionist to help you manage your unique circumstances. 

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Foods that may reduce hormonal balance

We know that foods that reduce inflammation and maximize the gut microbiome help you balance your hormones in natural ways. Lowering body fat and reducing blood sugar spikes also help balance hormones. 

Some foods are not helpful in balancing hormones. They may actually worsen your hormonal milieu by adding body weight, adversely affecting the gut microbiome, or offsetting the body’s natural hormone production. These include:

  • Sugary beverages. Sugar promotes insulin release, which contributes to added body fat. Sugar is generally recognized as inflammatory—a state that worsens hormone imbalance. 
  • Alcohol. Alcohol adversely affects the gut microbiome and promotes leakiness of the GI tract. This leads to unnecessary inflammation, higher body fat levels, and estrogen dominance, even in men. 
  • Sugary foods with high glycemic index. Foods that are broken down quickly by your body can lead to sugar spikes in your bloodstream. These are known as high glycemic index foods and should be avoided.
  • Trans fats. Trans fats are highly inflammatory and unhealthy for everyone. Foods that are processed and contain hydrolyzed fats to preserve freshness contain trans fats and should be avoided.
  • Processed or refined foods. Food additives in processed foods are known to contribute to metabolic syndrome and worsen hormone balance in PCOS. These foods alter the gut microbiome and add belly fat without the nutrients you need for optimal hormone production.  
  • Dairy. Dairy is perfectly fine for most individuals. A few who are intolerant to dairy or need to reduce their intake of saturated fats should talk to their healthcare provider about whether or not dairy is right for them. 
  • Soy. Soy isoflavones can effectively balance hormones in some women but may worsen balance in others. There is no evidence that soy isoflavones contribute to any cancer, including breast cancer; however, there may be digestive distress in some individuals who tolerate it poorly.
  • Excesses of red meat. Red meat contains saturated fat that may contribute to higher fatty acid levels in the liver and to poorer metabolic health. Optimal metabolism is needed to balance your hormones, and red meat in excess does not help. 
  • Artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners not only make you crave real sugar, but they also may contribute to dysbiosis—a state of altered gut microorganism composition. This can adversely affect metabolism. 

Why you should consider working with a hormone health nutritionist

Hormone balancing can be complicated to do by yourself. You may wonder which foods are right for you and how much you should eat of each food type. These questions can be answered by working with a hormone health nutritionist. 

A hormone health nutritionist is trained in advanced nutrition practices and has studied hormone regulation using dietary management. They know the signs of hormone imbalance and have worked with many women who have hormone-related health issues like estrogen dominance, PCOS, and endometriosis as well as men with issues such as low testosterone.

Your hormone health nutritionist can evaluate your diet and make personalized recommendations to help you gain more insight into your hormonal health. Together, you can make progress toward having a more balanced hormonal picture through better nutrition. 

Here at Zaya Care, we can match you with hormone nutritionists who are covered by your insurance. You can browse our network of nutritionists and filter by things like visit type, languages spoken, insurance accepted, and more to find your fit.

Other dietary tips that can help with hormone regulation

There are many things you can do to enhance your ability to make the right amount of hormones. Your hormone system is connected to all other body parts in some way, so keeping generally healthy makes a big difference in your health and wellness. 

These tips can also help you feel better:

  • Stay hydrated to optimize your overall cellular function and flush out metabolic waste. 
  • Eat high-fiber foods to maximize your digestive function and ensure the health of your microbiome. 
  • Eat healthy fats to reduce oxidative stress on your body. 
  • Eat proteins of all types. This includes legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, poultry, soy, and red meats. 
  • Use spices and herbs in cooking to utilize their healthful properties and reduce the need for salting your foods. 
  • Eat foods rich in magnesium to help your nervous system operate optimally. 
  • Reduce the number of endocrine-disrupting foods in your home. 
  • Find simple recipes to maximize your success in eating healthy foods. 
  • Eat food at home so you are aware of all the ingredients and can avoid the high calories found in many restaurant foods. 
  • Try working with a hormone health nutritionist to get you started on a path toward hormone balance and general wellness. 

Example hormone-balancing meal plan

Here’s a sample 2,000-calorie meal plan that focuses on foods that can help with hormonal balance and avoids foods that are known to disrupt hormones. As always, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider or dietitian before making any significant changes to your diet.

Breakfast:

  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa (222 calories)
  • 1 cup of mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries) (84 calories)
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds (60 calories)
  • 1 cup of almond milk (60 calories)

Morning Snack:

  • 1 medium apple (95 calories)
  • 2 tablespoons of almond butter (196 calories)

Lunch (Salad):

  • 2 cups of mixed greens (20 calories)
  • 1/2 cup of chickpeas (134 calories)
  • 1/2 an avocado (120 calories)
  • 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds (180 calories)
  • Dressing made with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and lemon juice (119 calories)

Afternoon Snack:

  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt (150 calories)
  • 1 tablespoon of honey (64 calories)

Dinner:

  • Grilled salmon (206 calories)
  • 1 cup of steamed broccoli (55 calories)
  • 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice (108 calories)
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds (52 calories)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil (119 calories)

Evening Snack:

  • 1 ounce of dark chocolate (170 calories)
  • 10 almonds (70 calories)

>> Find a Hormone Nutritionist That Accepts Your Insurance

Other tips to balance your hormones

To maintain adequate hormone balance, you want to enhance your mental and physical health throughout life. A leaner body and reduced mental stress make a great deal of difference in how well you balance your own body’s hormones. Some ways to do this include the following: 

  • Get plenty of exercise. Exercise enhances metabolism and promotes reduced body fat. 
  • Get enough sleep. Your body recovers more easily from mental and physical distress when you sleep seven to nine hours each night.
  • Reduce external stress. Stress in your life promotes the release of cortisol by your adrenal glands. Cortisol can raise blood sugar and contribute to excess belly fat. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your care provider about your body mass index (BMI) and try to have a BMI between 18.5 and 25. Your provider can calculate this value for you, or you can perform an online evaluation of your own BMI
  • Reduce exposure to endocrine disruptors. Your environment contains many substances that contribute to endocrine/hormonal imbalances. Plastics used to store food, dioxins, and other environmental substances can worsen your hormone balance by mimicking or blocking your natural hormones. 
  • Quit smoking. Smoking causes oxidative stress which can impact your overall health and cellular function. 

Here at Zaya Care, we can match you with hormone nutritionists who are covered by your insurance. You can browse our network of nutritionists and filter by things like visit type, languages spoken, insurance accepted, and more to find your fit.

dietitian working on the computer

Book a virtual dietitian appointment

Covered by your insurance

Christine Traxler MD is a family physician, lifelong writer, and author with a special interest in mental health, women’s healthcare, and the physical after-effects of psychological trauma. As a contributing writer and editor for numerous organizations, she brings a holistic focus to her work that emphasizes healing and wellness through daily self-care, connecting with others, and setting stepwise goals toward achieving more balanced and authentic lives.