What you eat regulates many aspects of body functioning, including the secretion of certain hormones. Your diet can actually help you maintain a healthy body weight and slow the aging process.

Below is a list of foods to eat (and to avoid) that will help you maintain a healthy hormonal balance. It's based on my own research as well as what I've read in the literature, and these tips apply to women of all ages.

Younger women may find these ideas helpful to balance their moods (particularly around menstrual cycles) while older women may find this list beneficial in dealing with peri-menopause or menopause. Wherever you are in your health journey, I hope this list is helpful.

Here are 13 foods women should eat (or avoid) to maintain hormonal balance

EAT THESE FOODS FOR HORMONAL BALANCE

Poultry, fatty fish, and soy proteins

All of these protein sources do more than just help you maintain lean tissue. Research has found that menopausal women lose more weight when most of their protein comes from these ingredients. Some evidence suggests that consuming soy foods may also help alleviate hot flashes, though evidence here is mixed. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, also protect against blue moods, heart disease, and cancer.

Cruciferous vegetables

Broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and bok choy may fight excess estrogen to lower the risk for breast cancer. Excess estrogen can occur pre-menopause in women who are overweight or obese.

B vitamins

A lack of foods rich in vitamin B can contribute to feelings of depression. Consume foods high in the B vitamins, such as whole grains and lean beef.

Asparagus, melons, and watercress

These foods help combat one of the most annoying midlife symptoms: bloating.

AVOID THESE FOODS FOR HORMONAL BALANCE

Sugar

Brown sugar, white sugar, high-fructose corn syrup — call it by any name, sugar has been shown to exaggerate hormonal symptoms in women. That’s why it's important to limit your intake of added sugars. (Not sure where to begin? Start here.)

A study from the University of Pittsburgh on women in their 50s and 60s showed that those who decreased their consumption of desserts and sugar-sweetened beverages lost more weight than those who didn’t, both over the short term and up to four years later.

Caffeinated beverages

You can drink coffee and tea with a tablespoon of nonfat or low-fat milk. Know, however, that caffeinated beverages may trigger hot flashes. If you’re struggling with hot flashes or night sweats, cut down on caffeine.

Alcohol

Like caffeine, alcohol may spark hot flashes. Although you can probably drink one glass of wine or beer with your whole-foods dinner in place of dessert each night, just say no to alcohol if you’re having hot flashes.

High-fat foods

A study of about 17,000 women found that those who reported eating mostly low-fat foods — fruits, vegetables and whole grains — reported fewer incidences of hot flashes. The Age-Defying Diet limits fat intake, which may help keep you feeling cool.

Spicy foods

Hold the hot sauce if you want to minimize hot flashes! Stick with herbs and mild spices to flavor food without turning up the heat.

Adapted from the book THE AGE-DEFYING DIET by Caroline Apovian, MD. © 2015 by Caroline Apovian and The Philip Lief Group, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Life and Style. All rights reserved.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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