Best Food For Healthy Female Hormones?

June 12, 2020

Best Food For Healthy Female Hormones?

Hormone healthy foods are always a hot topic in my Women's Health practice and the #1 question I am asked by my female patients:

"What foods can I eat to keep my female hormones in balance?"

As a Female Hormone Specialist I always want my patients eating as many cruciferous vegetables as possible since they contain the magic biochemical sulforaphane!

How does Sulforaphane help Female Hormones?

Sulforaphane (SFN) is a sulfur-containing compound that naturally occurs in green and yellow vegetables. It is present in an inactive form; glucoraphanin in these vegetables. But, a family of enzymes known as myrosinase activates and converts it into activated Sulforaphane used for various health benefits that aid in the detoxification of estrogen. [1]

It is important to note that myrosinase enzymes only release and work on glucoraphanin when any damage to the plant occurs. So, if women want an active form of Sulforaphane, they must chop, chew or cut their vegetables before consumption. Plus, the raw green leafy vegetables contain a much higher content of Sulforaphane compared to cooked vegetables. Therefore it is best to only lightly steam sulforaphane rich vegetaqbles.

Vegetable sources of Sulforaphane

The following leafy green cruciferous vegetables contain high content of Sulforaphane.

Mechanisms of Action on Hormones

The exact mechanism of Sulforaphane is unclear; however, studies reported the following mechanisms responsible for various hormone health outcomes. These include:

Research studies report sulforaphane modulates the Nrf2/ARE pathway that leads to the activation and expression of genes responsible for coding endogenous enzymes, non-enzymes antioxidant, and cardioprotective and phase 2 detoxification enzymes.

The major detoxification enzymes include glutathione-S-transferase (GST), glutathione peroxidase (GPX1), thioredoxin reductase (TXNRD1), thioredoxin (TXN) glutamate-cysteine ligase (GCL), NADPH: Quinone reductase-1 (NQO1), and haemoxygenase-1 (HO-1). Thus, SFN shows potent antioxidant activity that relieves oxidative stress, promotes physiological functions, and protects vital body organs. Besides, it also positively modulates natural killer cells' activity and supports an immune function that reduces the risk of chronic medical conditions. [1]

Along with the antioxidant action, SFN inhibits some Phase 1 detoxification enzymes responsible for carcinogen activation. Plus, SFN acts as a histone deacetylase inhibitor that protects DNA damage and prevents cancer risk. Moreover, SFN arrests the abnormal cell cycle, inhibits angiogenesis, and induces apoptosis that provides the anti-cancerous activity. [1]

The anti-inflammatory activity of SFN involves the suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokines and regulation of the NF-κB and inflammatory inducible enzymes such as cyclooxygenase (COX-2) and NO synthase (iNOS). [1]

Medical research studies about Sulforaphane and Hormones

Medical studies reported the following health benefits of Sulforaphane.

Anticancer effect

Various animal and lab studies confirm the anticancer activity of Sulforaphane. The above-discussed mechanisms help prevent cancer as well as fight cancer, reduce the tumor size, reduce blood vessels to the tumor, and suppress cancer cell proliferation.

Also, the antioxidant property potentiates the activity of Sulforaphane against cancerous cells via neutralizing the carcinogens. Studies also reported that SFN blocks gastric tumor formation and prevents the development of stomach cancer. Thus, an optimal amount of Sulforaphane improves cancer progression and reduces the risk of cancer, including breast cancer. [1, 2]

Anti-Obesity Action

Studies reported that SFN inhibits adipogenesis (fat cell formation) and suppresses the synthesis of triglycerides and fat accumulation. The anti-obesity mechanism involves activating the AMPK pathway, downregulating the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ), and suppressing the C/EBPα expression.

Plus, it promotes the activity of adiponectin and increases leptin responsiveness which helps prevent diet-induced obesity.

Additionally, medical research studies showed that Sulforaphane significantly improves high blood sugar levels and helps with type 2 diabetes mellitus symptoms. It regulates the hemoglobin A1C level and reduces the lipid peroxidation that significantly helps diabetes and its complications. [3, 4]

Support Cardiovascular functions

The potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of Sulforaphane improve cardiovascular health. Animal studies showed that Sulforaphane increases the level of thioredoxin (Trx) and HO-1 (haemoxygenase-1) that provide cardioprotective properties.

Sulforaphane supports post-ischemic ventricular function, protects cardiomyocyte against apoptosis, and decreases myocardial infarct size that promotes heart functions. Additionally, it decreases inflammation in the arteries and prevents arteries from narrowing which causes high blood pressure, as well as other cardiovascular dysfunctions. [1]

Antimicrobial Activity

SFN shows a bactericidal effect against Helicobacter pylori bacteria responsible for gastrointestinal complications, including gastric reflux and cancer. The antibacterial mechanism reported by studies includes the modulation of Nrf2 activators, anti-inflammatory activity, and direct bactericidal action of cruciferous vegetables. Also, the inhibition of urease by SFN support the bactericidal effect as most bacterial colonies use urease for their growth. [1, 7]

Estrogen dominance

Different research studies reported that SFN alters estrogen metabolism and improves estrogen dominance. The induction of NADPH: Quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1) by SFN reduces the carcinogenic estrogen metabolite, known as catechol estrogen-3, 4-quinone, and suppresses the complications associated with estrogen dominance.

SFN increases the level of glutathione-S-transferase (GST) that detoxifies estrogen via conjugation and prevents the risk of adverse physiological effects such as DNA damage and abnormal cell growth. [5, 6]

Support Brain Function

Sulforaphane shows antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity that helps neuroinflammation and supports neurological functions. It prevents brain damage, removes reactive oxygen species, relieves oxidative stress, and reduces the risk of mental decline. Plus, studies reported that it improves autism symptoms such as verbal communication and social interactions. Furthermore, SFN Protects dopaminergic cells and delays neuronal death that helps neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer’s diseases. [1, 8]

Other potential health benefits

Medical research studies also reported the Antiaging and skin protective effects of SFN. It prevents skin damage by protecting skin against ultraviolet radiation that promotes skin integrity and wellness.

Furthermore, Sulforaphane encourages gastrointestinal health and improves the symptoms of certain dysfunctions such as constipation. Also, it limits the activity of aflatoxin on liver cells and supports liver vitality. Plus, the induction of HO-1 (haemoxygenase-1) and phase 2 enzymes by SFN protect the lungs against oxidative agents and reduce the risk of various lung dysfunctions. [1, 8]


Sulforaphane supplementation or consumption of cruciferous green vegetables is generally very safe but can cause stomach upset at higher doses. Dosing should be managed by a knowledgeable alternative medicine doctor or Naturopath.

Please don't use sulforaphane with drugs such as zolmitriptan, olanzapine, cyclobenzaprine, theophylline, imipramine, etc without first checking with your Naturopathic Doctor. [10]

If you need my help with your nutrition or hormones, I would be happy to help! Simply pop over to my SCHEDULE page to treat yourself to a Naturopathic visit!

Dr. Nicole Sundene

(480) 837-0900

Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is a Female Hormone Expert in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for Menopause,  Thyroid,  Hashimotos,  PMS, PerimenopauseAutoimmunePostpartumChronic Fatigue, DepressionAnxiety, Food Allergies,  DigestionDermatology, AcnePsoriasis Eczema, and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 23 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones, she presents to women the best-integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease. 

She has been an Herbalist for over 28 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan (not Medicaid) and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones, and Naturopathy!


  1. Houghton C. A. (2019). Sulforaphane: Its "Coming of Age" as a Clinically Relevant Nutraceutical in the Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Disease. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2019, 2716870.
  2. Kuran, D., Pogorzelska, A., & Wiktorska, K. (2020). Breast Cancer Prevention-Is there a Future for Sulforaphane and Its Analogs?. Nutrients, 12(6), 1559.
  3. Shawky, N. M., & Segar, L. (2018). Sulforaphane improves leptin responsiveness in high-fat high-sucrose diet-fed obese mice. European journal of pharmacology, 835, 108–114.
  4. Choi, K. M., Lee, Y. S., Kim, W., Kim, S. J., Shin, K. O., Yu, J. Y., Lee, M. K., Lee, Y. M., Hong, J. T., Yun, Y. P., & Yoo, H. S. (2014). Sulforaphane attenuates obesity by inhibiting adipogenesis and activating the AMPK pathway in obese mice. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry, 25(2), 201–207.
  5. Yang, L., Zahid, M., Liao, Y., Rogan, E. G., Cavalieri, E. L., Davidson, N. E., Yager, J. D., Visvanathan, K., Groopman, J. D., & Kensler, T. W. (2013). Reduced formation of depurinating estrogen-DNA adducts by sulforaphane or KEAP1 disruption in human mammary epithelial MCF-10A cells. Carcinogenesis, 34(11), 2587–2592.
  6. Cao, S., Wang, L., Zhang, Z., Chen, F., Wu, Q., & Li, L. (2018). Sulforaphane-induced metabolomic responses with epigenetic changes in estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cells. FEBS open bio, 8(12), 2022–2034.
  7. Fahey, J. W., Haristoy, X., Dolan, P. M., Kensler, T. W., Scholtus, I., Stephenson, K. K., Talalay, P., & Lozniewski, A. (2002). Sulforaphane inhibits extracellular, intracellular, and antibiotic-resistant strains of Helicobacter pylori and prevents benzo[a]pyrene-induced stomach tumors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 99(11), 7610–7615.
  8. Santín-Márquez, R., Alarcón-Aguilar, A., López-Diazguerrero, N. E., Chondrogianni, N., & Königsberg, M. (2019). Sulforaphane - role in aging and neurodegeneration. GeroScience, 41(5), 655–670.

Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD

(480) 837-0900

Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is considered a Female Hormone Expert  in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for Menopause, Thyroid, Hashimotos, PMS, Perimenopause, Autoimmune, Postpartum, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Food Allergies, Digestion, Dermatology , Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 22 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones she presents to women the best integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease. She has been an Herbalist for over 27 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones and Naturopathy!

4 comments on “Best Food For Healthy Female Hormones?”

  1. I was always scared to use cruciferous vegatables for fear they affected my thyroid, but thanks to you I am able to eat them daily and they are really helping me with my estrogen dominance and PMS. Very helpful information. I am inspired 🙂

  2. I have to admit that I was nervous to change our diet to more of these vegetables since it interferes with hormones and my husband had prostate cancer. I brought a copy of this article to his Oncologist and he said it was brilliant and a perfect superfood for us to both enjoy. I can lower my estrogen dominance and he can use it to prevent his cancer from returning. I could not love this more! We are also making the broccoli sprouts for the sulforophane and I feel so good when I put that in my salad or smoothie. Plus we have fun growing them.

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