What is the best diet for hormone balance?

Before we start shouting, “Broccoli!”, we want you to understand what hormones do, and why they are essential to everything from fertility, weight management, and thyroid function to PCOS and diabetes management. It’s key to understand that diet and lifestyle can affect their processes. 


What do hormones control?


Hormones are part of our endocrine system. They are, essentially, the body’s chemical messengers, taking information from one set of cells to another. Hormones control key body functions including:

  • hypothalamus
  • pituitary
  • thyroid
  • parathyroids
  • adrenals
  • pineal body
  • the ovaries
  • the testes
  • pancreas (which is part of both the endocrine and digestive system)


Hormones are involved in almost every function of the body. They control the growth of bones and body tissues, water balance, metabolism, and the body’s response to stress; they help regulate sleep, a woman’s menstrual cycle, and fertility. Hormone health is a pretty big deal. (This is an understatement)

Avoid Endocrine Disruptors


Certain foods and chemicals can disrupt the endocrine system, and by reducing exposure to these elements, you can experience an improvement in your hormone health. Endocrine disruptors interfere with the production of estrogen and other key hormones. Disruptions in hormone function can lead to fertility problems, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular health issues, and more.


Endocrine disruptors are found everywhere — in cosmetics, soaps, perfumes, nail polish, plastic, cleaning supplies, and more. Two of the biggest endocrine disruptors commonly consumed are phthalates and bisphenols, and they are found in almost every single food item in a grocery store. They come from plastic — plastics our foods are wrapped in, heated up in, stored in, and more. Do not panic! 

How to reduce phthalates in your diet?

Most of us don’t live in a plastic-free bubble. But by making a few adjustments to your diet, you can reduce exposure and improve your hormone health.

  1. Goodbye Mac & Cheese. The powdered cheese of our favorite childhood snack is a phthalate feast.
  2. Become label savvy. Products don’t say, phthalates, but they might have one of these ingredients (avoid when possible):
    • BBP (Butyl benzyl phthalate)
    • DBP (Dibutyl phthalate): most commonly found in nail polish
    • DEHP (Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate): most commonly found in medical products, like disposable gloves, tubes, catheters, and blood bags
    • DEP (Diethyl phthalate): most commonly found in personal care products
    • DiDP (Di-isodecyl phthalate)
    • DiNP (Di-isonoyl phthalate): most commonly found in toys and childcare products, like bath toys, drinking straws, and rubber ducks
    • DnHP (di-n-hexyl phthalate)
    • DnOP (di-n-octyl phthalate)
  3. Cosmetics don’t have to disclose whether they have phthalates, so look for phthalate-free products.
  4. Never heat food in plastic containers … phthalates seep through the plastic to the food.
  5. Avoid buying produce wrapped in plastic.
  6. Plastic seeps into our foods from handling, lids, adhesives, and conveyor belts. Buying from farmer’s markets is a great way to reduce exposure.


The Hormone Diet


We googled this, and books abound promising hormone resets and miracle cures. There are even boot camps. That said, hormone problems are complex and multi-faceted. And improving your diet and lifestyle can make a big difference in your overall wellness and hormone health. Both things can be true.

At NYC Nutritionist, we use functional nutrition to address hormone problems. We ask, “why?” And, when we get to the root causes of your hormone imbalances, we can work to help you manage PCOS symptoms, help regulate blood sugar levels for Type II Diabetes, improve your health status, and, in turn, optimize fertility.

There is no one diet or quick fix. Instead, we develop an individualized diet plan based on your unique needs. Not every body is the same, so by working with a dietitian nutritionist, you can get the support you need to implement a plan that works for you.


What foods improve hormone health?

A balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats, is your best bet for hormone health.

  1. Cruciferous vegetables- Now it’s time to bring on the broccoli. Likewise, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, bok choy, arugula, cabbage, radishes and turnips are great
  2. Berries are chock-full of phytonutrients and antioxidants. Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are great options. During winter months, buy frozen (they don’t lose their vitamins). Wash them well! Berries can have the backlash of being pretty pesticide-heavy.
  3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are great sources of omega-3. Supplements are also a great option to get your omega-3 dose.
  4. Essential minerals like magnesium, zinc, and selenium are found in nuts and seeds. Almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, and more are great sources of these essentials. (Tip, just one Brazil nut gives you your daily requirement for selenium. Easy, right?
  5. Lean proteins, either plant-based from pulses and grains or from chicken or fish, make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet. This supports blood sugar regulation and provides essential amino acids for hormone production, among other key processes.


With just a bit of planning and mindfulness, you can adapt your favorite flavors, foods, and family traditions to ensure you get all the necessary nutrients to support hormone health.  Here are two lunch or dinner recipes that can start you off on a delicious path to hormonal harmony.



Quinoa Salad with Grilled Chicken


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water or chicken/vegetable broth
  • 2 grilled chicken breasts, sliced
  • 2 cups mixed leafy greens (spinach, kale, arugula)
  • 1/2 cup mixed berries (blueberries, strawberries)
  • 1/4 cup mixed seeds and nuts (pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Rinse the quinoa under cold water. In a saucepan, bring 2 cups of water or broth to a boil. Add quinoa, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy. Remove from heat and let it cool.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked quinoa, mixed leafy greens, sliced grilled chicken, mixed berries, and seeds/nuts.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Toss gently to coat everything evenly.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese for extra flavor.
  5. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later. Enjoy!


Salmon and Avocado Wrap


  • 2 whole grain or gluten-free wraps
  • 2 grilled or baked salmon fillets, flaked
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1 cup mixed leafy greens (lettuce, spinach)
  • 1/4 cup mixed seeds (sunflower seeds, sesame seeds)
  • 1/4 cup mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds)
  • 1/2 cup mixed berries (raspberries, blackberries)
  • Greek yogurt or hummus (optional)
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Lay out the wraps on a clean surface.
  2. Spread a layer of Greek yogurt or hummus (if using) on each wrap.
  3. Divide the flaked salmon, sliced avocado, mixed leafy greens, mixed seeds/nuts, and berries between the wraps.
  4. Squeeze some lemon juice over the fillings and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Roll up the wraps tightly, tucking in the sides as you go.
  6. Slice each wrap in half diagonally and serve immediately, or wrap tightly in foil or parchment paper for an on-the-go lunch option. Enjoy!


Both recipes are rich in lean proteins, healthy fats, leafy greens, and berries, all of which are beneficial for hormone health. Feel free to adjust the ingredients according to your preferences and dietary restrictions



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