Recently, I caught the tail end of a discussion, on the radio, about oestrogen rich foods. They mentioned dried apricots, so I bought a bag and started to eat them. Then I thought I ought to look at this in a little more depth.

We know that oestrogen levels decline during the menopause. Phytoestrogens are known as dietary oestrogens. They are naturally occurring plant compounds that may function similarly to the oestrogen the human body produces.

Having read a few articles online, a number of foods kept being mentioned. It seems to be common ground that more research is required, although, for the most part, these foods appear to have positive effects, being not only of potential benefit for symptoms such as hot flushes, and lowering the risk of osteoporosis, but high in vitamins and minerals, heart healthy and an aid to keeping your cholesterol down.

I have listed those I was seeing most. There were others and I have referenced below the articles read.

  1. Seeds. Flax was particularly mentioned. Articles agree it is incredibly rich in lignans, which are chemical compounds that function as phytoestrogens. One article stated that these seeds contain up to 800 times more lignans than any other plant food. Flax was also said to be tremendously healthy, delivering omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and proteins. Nuts and seeds, generally, were stated to be good sources of minerals, such as magnesium and zinc, which your liver uses to moderate hormone levels.
  2. Dried Fruits. Those particularly mentioned as highest in phytoestrogens, and providing much higher levels than their fresh varieties, were dates, prunes and dried apricots
  3. Cruciferous Veg. Examples given were broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. It appears that broccoli is rich in secoisolariciresinol, a type of lignan phytoestrogen, and Brussels sprouts are rich in coumestrol, which is another type of phytonutrient that has been found to exhibit oestrogenic activity.

Also particularly mentioned as good sources were:

  • Strawberries, cranberries and raspberries;
  • Green leafy veg, such as spinach, rocket and kale;
  • Beetroot; and
  • Soy bean products, such as tofu, tempeh and edamame.

Whilst the articles I considered gave some variation of information, it seems common ground that these foods work better for some women than others. This is perhaps down to differences in gut bacteria. It was stated that it could take 2-3 months for any benefits to be seen. As with most things, it appears to be moderation in everything, and the words “sufficient amounts” were used. Although I could not generally find particular recommended quantities in my reading, one article did say consuming several times per day, rather than one larger dose, seems to be more effective.


  1. Healthline – updated 10/3/23.
  2. Natures Best.
  3. BDA – The Association of UK Dieticians.
  4. Silver Magazine – 7/10/19 – by Kirsten Chick.

Claire Banks – Nov 23.