Anti-Estrogen Diet for Men: Foods for Lowering Levels
Low testosterone is a fairly common issue as men age. Men who are experiencing low testosterone, or “low T,” often have elevated levels of the hormone estrogen. One potential way to remedy this excess is to try an estrogen-blocking diet, which can be a natural complement to low T medications.
Elevated estrogen not only diminishes men’s testosterone levels, but it can also put both men and women at risk for heart disease and certain types of cancer. According to the Journal of Medicinal Food, estrogen-blocking foods that contain phytochemicals can help reduce estrogen levels in the bloodstream. Plants are complex sources of nutrients, including specific phytochemicals which may help to reduce estrogen but also other phytochemicals that act as phytoestrogens and may mimic symptoms of excess estrogen in the body. Phytoestrogens are also being studied for positive health effects like reduction in cancer rates, bone health, and cardiovascular health. Individual response to phytoestrogens also varies from person to person.
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One of the best ways to block estrogen is by eating cruciferous vegetables. This type of food has a high level of phytochemicals and works to block estrogen production. Cruciferous vegetables can be cooked in a number of ways, and some of them, including broccoli and cauliflower, taste good raw.
Cruciferous vegetables include:
- Brussels sprouts
- bok choy
- collard greens
Varieties of mushrooms such as shiitake, portobello, crimini, and baby button work to block estrogen in the body. They have been known to prevent the production of an enzyme called aromatase. Aromatase is responsible for converting the hormone androgen over to estrogen. Incorporating this food into your diet will help prevent new production of estrogen.
Raw mushrooms can be a great addition to salads. They can also be sautéed with onions and other foods for flavoring. Select mushrooms from grocers, because wild-picked mushrooms may be poisonous. Organic mushrooms are a good choice because they’re pesticide-free.
Another estrogen-blocking food is red grapes. Their skins contain a chemical called resveratrol and their seeds contain a chemical called proanthocyanidin. Both of these chemicals work to block estrogen production.
Red grapes are easy to clean and eat, and they’re great to eat refrigerated or at room temperature. They can be eaten alone or added to fruit or green salads. As with any other fruit or vegetable, organic is a good way to go.
Certain types of seeds — such as flax and sesame — contain something called polyphenols. Polyphenols are found in plants and reduce estrogen levels in the bloodstream. According to information from Oregon State University, flax seeds contain some of the highest levels. Flaxseeds are also one of the richest sources of lignans, which act as phytoestrogens. Health effects of phytoestrogens are determined by many factors, including how efficiently an individual absorbs and metabolizes phytoestrogens. Because of their complex nutrition composition, for some people, flaxseeds may help to lower estrogen, and for others, they may not help or may even mimic estrogen-dominant symptoms.
Flax and sesame seeds are available at many grocery stores and health food shops. They can be added to all sorts of cooking and baking recipes and are especially easy to add to fruit smoothies.
Unrefined grains aren’t broken down like processed ones. They maintain all of their parts: endosperm, bran, and germ. Like seeds, whole grains contain anti-estrogen polyphenols and also phytoestrogen nutrients, so individual response varies.
The following whole grains can be eaten in a variety of forms, including breads, pasta, and cereals:
Already known for its healthful properties, green tea is also a great source for phytochemicals. Harvard Health Publications cites green tea as reducing estrogen while aiding in other areas, including cancer prevention, cholesterol reduction, and hypertension reduction.
There are many varieties of green tea available at large grocery stores and smaller health food stores. Green tea can be combined with flavorings such as mint, lemon, ginseng, and ginger for added taste and nutrients. It’s refreshing both hot and cold.
When people think of fruit, the pomegranate may not be the first thing that comes to mind. It turns out, however, that this particular fruit is high in phytochemicals. Pomegranates are becoming more widely known for their estrogen-blocking properties as well as their antioxidant virtues.
Pomegranates can be cut up and eaten like other fruit, or they can be consumed in juice form. Many grocery stores carry pomegranate juice and juice blends.
Talk to Your Doctor
Give these diet ideas a try, and use your food to naturally block estrogen production. If your goal is to treat low T, reducing your estrogen levels can be helpful. Talk to your doctor about any dietary changes you may decide to make. They can provide guidance and prescribe any necessary medications for addressing low T.
- Benefit of drinking green tea: The proof is in — drinking tea is healthy, says Harvard Women’s Health Watch. (2004, September). Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/benefit_of_drinking_green_tea
- Flaxseeds. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=81
- Grapes. (2008, November 1). Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/dietandnutrition/grapes
- Hormones and health risk: Low testosterone affects more than sexual dysfunction. (2013, July 16). Retrieved from http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/publications/johns_hopkins_health/summer_2013/hormones_and_health_risk
- Low testosterone (hypogonadism). (2013, April). Retrieved from http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=132
- Patisaul, H.B., Jefferson, W. (2010, March 27). The pros and cons of phytoestrogens. Front Neuroendocrinology. 10.1016. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3074428/
- Phytochemicals, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. (2014). Retrieved from http://cancer.stanford.edu/information/nutritionAndCancer/reduceRisk/phyto.html
- Whole grains, fiber, and breast cancer risk. (2000, June). Retrieved from http://envirocancer.cornell.edu/Factsheet/diet/fs36.grain.cfm
- Zeligs, M. A. (1998). Diet and estrogen status: the cruciferous connection. Journal of Medicinal Food, 1(2), 67-82. Retrieved from http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/jmf.1998.1.67