The Power of Plants

It's a balancing act

With the cost of food sky-rocketing these days, it’s increasingly difficult to include quality meat and fish in our daily diet. However, there are a host of plant foods which are relatively inexpensive, brimming with nutrients and very versatile. Choosing plant over animal foods several times a week can dramatically cut the cost of your weekly grocery bill and improve your health, particularly if you are female.

In this post I’m going to focus on phyto (meaning plant) oestrogen’s. Phytoestrogens are nutrients found in certain foods which help to modulate the amount of oestrogen in the body. They provide the beneficial affects of oestrogen (such as in the bones) whilst avoiding excess oestrogen where it could be harmful such as in the breasts or womb.
It is thought that the phytoestrogens bind more easily to oestrogen receptors and so prevent the more powerful xenoestrogens (i.e. harmful manmade oestrogens from the environment) attaching- in this way they modulate the levels of oestrogen in the body. They are an essential part of any woman’s diet at whatever stage of life helping to reduce symptoms of both PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome) and Menopause.

There are over 800 different types of phyto-oestrogens and one of the most potent forms are the isoflavones which are found mainly in soya products. There has been much controversy concerning soya. The best advice is to eat soya in its most natural forms such as tofu, miso and tempeh which is how it is traditionally eaten in Asian cultures. If you are using soya milk or yoghurt use non-GM organic products made from the whole bean and not from soya protein isolates and limit to one serving per day. Moderation is the key as soya is only one source of phytoestrogens. Below you’ll find many other great sources of phyto-oestrogens.

Beans:Mung beans, aduki beans, kidney beans,soya
Pulses:Lentils, chickpeas, split peas, peas
Seeds:Flaxseeds, sesame, pumpkin, poppy, caraway, sunflower
Nuts:Almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts
Oils:Flaxseed and sesame
Wholegrains:Brown rice, oats, barley, rye, millet, buckwheat
Herbs and spices: Cinnamon, sage, red clover, fennel, garlic, parsley
Fruit: Apples, plums, cherries, rhubarb
Vegetables: Broccoli, carrots, celery, spinach, mushrooms
Sprouts: Alfalfa, mung bean
Teas: Green and white tea  

Many of these foods may sound unfamiliar but they can easily be incorporated into the diet when you known how. Eat a good variety of the foods above and you’ll be getting protein (soya, nuts, seeds, beans and pulses) essential fats (nuts and seeds) and plenty of fibre (beans, pulses, fruits and vegetables).

Some simple ideas to incorporate phyto-oestrogens into your diet

  • Sprinkle ground linseeds onto porridge made with soya milk in the morning or onto soups or salads.
  • Drizzle flax seed oil onto soups or salads just before serving or blend into smoothis
  • Add lentils, beans or chickpeas to soups.
  • Alfalfa sprouts or mung beans can be added to salads or stuffed into pitta bread sandwiches.
  • Houmous made from chickpeas (homemade or bought organic) can be used instead of butter on sandwiches or as a dip with oatcakes and carrot or celery sticks.
  • Look for bread that includes seeds
  • Tofu can be blended into smoothies.
  • Miso paste can be added at the end of cooking to soups, stews or stir fries
  • Make vegetarian versions of your favourite dishes such as curries, chillies or cottage pie by replacing the meat with beans and lentils.
  • Snack on nuts and seeds with apples or celery sticks

You’ll also find these foods included in many of the recipes on this website.


About Michelle Lake

Hi, I run Mission Nutrition, and I'm a nutritional therapist/ nutritionist helping people all over St Albans & Hertfordshire feel happier & healthier. If your diet needs an overhaul, come and see me for a nutrition consultation! Tel: 01727 893 042 / 01727 869 929 or email