3 Foods to Fight PMS

eat broccoli for PMS

Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) is that time of the month just before a woman’s cycle starts where her hormones may feel completely out of balance resulting in mood swings (!), tender breasts, weight gain, acne, and fatigue.  The hormones responsible are primarily a balance between progesterone and estrogen however other hormones such as cortisol (from the adrenals) and serotonin (the brain hormone) can play a role.  Other than massive amounts of chocolate (right?), here are 3 of the best foods to eat all month long to help smooth out the ups and downs of PMS. No, it does not include wine.

1. The cruciferous family – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens, kale, and Brussel sprouts belong to a family that contains Indole-3-carbinol which turns into Diindolylmethane (DIM) which is an enzyme the helps clear excess estrogen out of circulation properly through the liver. That excess estrogen might be worsening all the PMS symptoms.  Try lightly steaming, stir-frying, or roasting the veggies and adding them to lunch and dinner meals.

2. Artichokes – these powerfully fun little vegetables are full of antioxidants, lignans, inulin, B vitamins, magnesium, and liver supportive properties.  They are low in sugar and calories with a bit of protein making them the perfect addition to a healthy PMS-free diet.  Try them steamed, grilled, roasted, braised, stuffed, or baked. Remember to pull the meaty part of the leaves off with your teeth (then toss the “leaf”) and eat the artichoke heart at the center of the globe.

3. Healthy oils/fats from wild-caught fish, avocados, Borage oil or evening primrose oil.  These beneficial oils contain omega 3 fatty acids (such as in fish) or gamma-linolenic acid (such as in evening primrose and borage oil) are known as poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) that helps to lower inflammation, improve skin health, and reduce breast tenderness with PMS.  Avocados are made up mostly of monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) but also high good levels of magnesium and potassium – nutrients helpful for cramping and water retention which are common with PMS.

Remember that PMS may or may not come every month and the severity may be to different degrees depending on stress, diet, and lifestyle factors.  If you routinely experiences severe debilitating PMS, it may be considered PMDD or Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder which is not good and likely really disrupting your life.  Don’t despair – there are both testing and treatment options available to help…but that’s another article!


Dickerson, L., Mazyck, P. and Hunter, M. (2003).  Premenstrual Syndrome.  Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12725453

Dreher, M. and Davenport, A. (2013). Hass avocado composition and potential health effects.  Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23638933

Johansson, E., Prade, T., Angelidaki, I., Svensson, S., Newson, W., Gunnarsson, I., and Hovmalm, H.  (2015). Economically viable components from Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L.) in a biorefinery process.  Retrieved from http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/16/4/8997/htm

Marques, M., LaFlamme, L., Benassou, I., Cissokho, C, Guillemette, B, Gaudreau, L. (2014).  Low levels of 3,3'-diindolylmethane activate estrogen receptor α and induce proliferation of breast cancer cells in the absence of estradiol.  Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25048790

University of Maryland Medical Center. (2015). Gamma-linoleic Acid.  Retrieved from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/gammalinolenic-acid

Carrie Jones

an educational website focusing on hormones