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A Fresh Approach to Eating

Balancing Hormones in Menopause

Let’s explore foods that help balance hormones in females. I have a list of foods that naturally have hormones and a new recipe for some delicious tofu steaks that I made in my new air fryer.

Women are dynamic people; throughout our lives, we have big hormonal swings in our bodies during each lifecycle. This includes a big hormone transition during puberty, the ability for many of us to carry children and make milk, and the monthly changes in our menstrual cycle. Then there are the changes in hormones during perimenopause and menopause, and the changes that even happen postmenopause.

Today, we will focus on the hormones most affected during perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. We will look at two hormones, estrogen and progesterone, which are made in the ovaries. The most common form of estrogen is estradiol. We may cover other hormones and nutrition in upcoming posts.

What are the benefits of estrogen in the body?

Estrogen can help reduce the risk of heart disease, protects bone health, protects the brain and affects our mood, it may also help decrease the appetite by decreasing hunger hormones.

You may wonder, ” Are foods that increase estrogen levels in females?”

Estrogen-rich foods in menopause include phytoestrogen isoflavones and lignans, which work as antioxidants. Foods that include these phytoestrogens include soy flour, tofu, and other soy products. Studies have examined how these phytoestrogens attach to our estrogen receptors and activate the reactions in our body.

In addition, other estrogen-rich foods include flax seeds, legumes, fruits and vegetables, cereals, olives, and wheat. Nutrients important for estrogen to work in the body include vitamins E, D, and B’s, Zinc, magnesium, and polyphenols.

Best Soy Isoflavones for Menopause

A recent study published in the Journal of Menopause by the North American Menopause Society has found that a diet rich in plant-based foods can significantly reduce hot flashes. According to the study, women who consumed such a diet experienced an 84% reduction in hot flashes, meaning that those who had almost five hot flashes per day saw their frequency reduced to less than one per day. During the 12-week trial, almost 60% of the women were completely free of moderate-to-severe hot flashes. Furthermore, the study found that the diet also helped to decrease mild hot flashes by nearly 80%.

Here is the publication:

The Women’s Study for the Alleviation of Vasomotor Symptoms (WAVS): a randomized, controlled trial of a plant-based diet and whole soybeans for postmenopausal women – PMC (

This is good news!

Progesterone foods

Just as there are foods that provide estrogen, there are also foods that contain progesterone.

Walnuts and oatmeal, rich in plant sterols, stimulate progesterone production. Phytoestrogens like veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds also help boost progesterone. Adequate vitamin B6, Zinc, and Magnesium also help boost progesterone production.

Progesterone helps boost brain and mood benefits and bone mass. It also helps lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancer.

Hormone Disruptors

What are hormone disruptors? These products contribute to causing our hormones to become out of balance. These include household products like plastics, detergents, toys, and pesticides.

This research article discusses hormone disruptors in more detail.

Excessive alcohol, stress, lack of physical activity, inadequate sleep, and smoking, which increase inflammation in the body, can also disrupt the hormonal balance.

You can find additional information on food and hormones in one of my previous posts. In this post, there is a discussion between two dietitians about the controversy surrounding soy. Foods that make women feel amazing (

Concerns of Soy Foods in the Diet

Soy foods have gotten a bad reputation, mostly because in the United States, food companies take a food component and make something with a mega amount of something like the plant estrogen, isoflavone in soy.

This mega dose may have additional additives, and the body may react differently to excess doses. In addition, everyone’s bodies are different.

Having natural foods with natural amounts of plant nutrients differs from having a food or supplement with excessive ingredients.

Here are some additional articles that you may find helpful about soy and cancer prevention and after-treatment:

Soy and Cancer: Myths and Misconceptions – American Institute for Cancer Research % (

Dietary isoflavone intake and all‐cause mortality in breast cancer survivors: The Breast Cancer Family Registry – Zhang – 2017 – Cancer – Wiley Online Library

Soy Foods in Moderation Safe for Breast Cancer Survivors – American Institute for Cancer Research % (

Hormone Balancing Recipes

Tofu breaded and cooked in air fryer
Make this panko-crusted tofu with herbed yogurt sauce and have a delicious main dish that is healthy, too!

Panko-Crusted Tofu Steaks with Creamy Herb Sauce

Panko Crusted Tofu Steaks

Soy contains phytoestrogen and is a great source of protein. The creamy herb sauce can be made with yogurt or plant-based yogurt. It helps make these savory tofu steaks even more delicious.

Makes six servings at two slices per person.

1 tablespoon cornmeal
2/3 cup gluten-free panko crumbs
2 tablespoons gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon ground flax
1-2 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon garlic oil
1 package of extra firm tofu cut into 12 pieces

Marinade for Tofu
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Creamy Herb Sauce

1/2 cup yogurt or plant-based yogurt (Here is a great plant-based yogurt: Almond Milk Yogurts – Kite Hill Dairy Free Foods (
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon garlic oil
1/2 cup mixed herbs (I used parsley, basil, and thyme)
2 tablespoons walnuts (for garnish)
Salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the tofu into 6 pieces and marinate for 30 minutes. While the tofu is marinating, make a flax egg with the flax, garlic oil, and water in a bowl. Then, on a dinner plate, mix the cornmeal, panko, flour, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.

To make a creamy herb sauce, chop the herbs very finely. Mix yogurt, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, garlic oil, finely chopped herbs, and salt and pepper in a bowl.

You could bake the tofu at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes on a lightly greased pan and gently turn it over halfway through. I used an air fryer in my oven and baked at 400 degrees. Place a baking cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet to do this. (If you have a separate air fryer, use the manufacturer’s directions.)

Dip the tofu in the flax egg and carefully dip it in the panko breading. Place the cool wrap on the baking dish carefully to air fry. Place in the oven, turn the oven on the “air fryer” setting, and “bake” for 15 minutes.

After the tofu steaks have been air-fried and are ready, carefully remove them from the rack onto a platter or individual plates. To plate up, add the steaks and herb cream sauce. Garnish each plate with a few walnuts.

Picture of pink smoothie.
Here is a delicious hormone balancing smoothie!

Hormone Balancing Smoothies

This recipe uses ingredients from your pantry with ingredients you are familiar using that you can use in other recipes also! Even the tofu steak recipe above.

Makes one smoothie.

To make a delicious smoothie, choose at least one of each of these components:

Healthy fats such as nut butter, ground flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, avocados
Proteins: nut butter, yogurt/milk or plant-based yogurt/milk, nut butter, seeds
Something sweet: 1/2 cup blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, or other fruit, 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup

To make this Raspberry Arugula Smoothie shown above:

1/2 cup raspberries
Handful arugula
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 cup yogurt or plant yogurt
1 teaspoon maple syrup

Place all these items in a smoothie. And add ice. Process until smooth and with the right consistency.

Mediterranean Diet Role in Balancing Hormones in Women

A Mediterranean Plant-based diet helps balance estrogen in the body and helps people achieve and maintain a healthy body composition. It helps reduce inflammation, reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Here is a little more on how inflammation may affect our health.

You may also like to know more about the nutrition tool that I developed, the Mediterranean Diet Appalachian Style. It takes the best of the Mediterranean Pyramid and localizes it to use foods based on the seasons where we live!

Anti inflammatory food list pdf (

Get Your Own Women’s Hormone Balancing Diet Plan PDF

I hope you have learned more about foods that balance female hormones and find it helpful. As an Asheville nutritionist and registered dietitian, I love helping women find foods that benefit their lifestyle, including foods and hormonal health.

Deciding whether to go on hormone replacement therapy is an individual decision that you and your physician should talk about. Everyone’s body and symptoms are different. Each of us needs to decide what works best for our bodies.

If you want to work with a dietitian specializing in women’s health, I have the training and expertise to help!

When you sign up for the A Fresh Approach to Women’s Wellness Program (, I will send you your own women’s hormone-balancing diet plan pdf and menu plan. For more information about the program, you can contact me here.

This is a picture of Womens Nutriton Program
A Fresh Approach to Women’s Nutrition is a women’s nutrition and health program.
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