Progesterone Boosting Foods, Recipes & Tips + No-Bake Banana Bread Balls with Cardamom Cream
If you’re a woman reading this, chances are you’ve experienced symptoms of PMS at some point in your life (bloating, cramping, moodiness, headaches, fatigue, increased hunger, cravings, etc.)
Despite how common PMS and the accompanying symptoms are, they are not normal, rather indicative of an underlying hormonal imbalance.
One of the primary hormonal imbalances that leads to PMS is low progesterone, or when progesterone levels are low in relation to estrogen levels, which is also known as estrogen dominance.
Because progesterone is necessary to rise and stimulate the growth of the lining in the uterus in preparation for pregnancy, it is a vital component of fertility. It’s also known as your “calming and relaxing hormone,” assisting in everything from optimal sleep to decreased anxiety to reduced blood pressure, which is why when levels get too low, symptoms of PMS often arise.
Luckily, there are plenty of natural, easy and effective ways to boost progesterone levels, and one of the best ways is to incorporate more progesterone boosting foods into your diet, especially the week leading up to your period (luteal phase).
Read below for the top progesterone boosting foods, as well as a few of my favorite progesterone boosting recipes (hello banana bread balls with cardamom cream) to help you naturally boost progesterone in order to reduce PMS, have a better period and optimize your fertility and menstrual cycle.
Need more progesterone-boosting recipes + tips to help reduce PMS, optimize fertility, have a symptom-free period and healthy menstrual cycle? Check out my go-to guide.
PROGESTERONE: WHY IT’S IMPORTANT FOR FERTILITY + A HEALTHY MENSTRUAL CYCLE
Progesterone is a sex hormone released from the ovaries before menopause that is a vital part of a healthy menstrual cycle, particularly as it relates to conceiving and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
After ovulation occurs, it’s released from the remains of the ovarian follicle that released the egg, also known as the corpus luteum. This is one of the many reasons why ovulation is so important for a healthy menstrual cycle, as its vital for optimal progesterone production (i.e. lack of ovulation often leads to low progesterone levels).
Once you’ve ovulated, progesterone production increases to thicken your uterine lining in preparation for a potential pregnancy. If trying to get pregnant and progesterone levels are low, this can lead to problems with implantation (i.e. the lining isn’t healthy enough for the egg to implant and grow).
If your egg is not fertilized after ovulation, your progesterone levels will peak and then decline, signaling your uterine lining to shed, resulting in your period.
BENEFITS OF PROGESTERONE
+ Aids in optimal sleep
+ Is an anti-anxiety compound that promotes calm and relaxation
+ Prevents PMS and symptomatic periods
+ Necessary for optimal fertility, conception and a healthy pregnancy
+ Supports thyroid production and stimulates metabolism
+ Reduces blood pressure
+ Lowers LDL cholesterol
+ Builds bone density
+ Improves health of skin and hair
+ Aids in libido
+ When balanced with estrogen, protects agains breast cancer
+ Protects your immune system
COMMON TRIGGERS + CAUSES OF LOW PROGESTERONE
+ Long-term stress, or high cortisol, which robs your body of pregnenolone, a precursor hormone to progesterone
+ Exposure to synthetic estrogens or xenoestrogens (i.e. toxin exposure from plastic, beauty products, cleaning supplies, etc.)
+ Hormonal birth control, most notably the birth control pill
+ Lack of ovulation
+ PCOS (commonly associated with lack of ovulation)
+ Excess prolactin, a breast development + milk production hormone that suppresses ovulation
+ Hypothyroidism, or under active thyroid
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF LOW PROGESTERONE INCLUDE
+ Difficulty getting or staying pregnant
+ Breakthrough bleeding during the second half of the menstrual cycle
+ PMS or PMDD
+ Menstrual migraines
+ A heavier flow during menstruation
+ Irregular cycles
+ Bloating in the abdomen
+ Swollen and/or painful breasts
+ Anxiety, moodiness or depression
HORMONE-BALANCING TIPS FOR LOW PROGESTERONE
+ Eat more foods that support progesterone production, see list below
+ Incorporate more stress-management into your daily routine (yoga, breathing, meditation, baths, walks, nature, etc.)
+ Try taking a magnesium supplement
+ Start swapping endocrine disrupting beauty products for cleaner options
+ Try seed-cycling
+ Consider Vitex/Chasteberry **Please consult with your doctor first, especially if you have pre-existing conditions or PCOS
+ Seek out the most effective testing methods to get more concrete answers (see testing section in this guide)
PROGESTERONE BOOSTING FOODS
Consuming more foods that support progesterone production is one of the most simple and effective approaches you can take, especially during your luteal phase (or the week or two leading up to your period). These are my top picks:
Nuts (especially walnuts) and seeds (particular sesame and sunflower) are loaded with minerals like zinc and magnesium that work to boost progesterone levels and keep estrogen levels in check.
+ Wild-Caught Salmon
Loaded with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that work to increase luteinizing hormone (LH) which can then boost progesterone production.
Sources of poultry such as chicken and turkey are rich in vitamin b6, which works to increase progesterone and decrease estrogen levels.
An excellent source of vitamin C, which is associated with higher progesterone levels. Studies also show both pregnancy rates and progesterone levels increased in those who supplemented with vitamin C and had a luteal phase defect.
+ Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are abundant in calcium and magnesium, the active minerals that stimulate progesterone production.
Healthy fat consumption has been linked to increased progesterone and decreased anovulation and fats (such as those found in avocado) are required for overall hormone production (hormones are made up of lipids, a molecule in fat).
Recipes to try: Dark Chocolate Avocado Fudge Fertility Smoothie, Fajita Stuffed Sweet Potatoes + Creamy Avocado Sauce, Mexican Hot Chocolate Avocado Pudding from the Fertility Boosting Fundamentals Guide
Bananas are a great source of vitamin b6, which works to decrease estrogen and increase progesterone levels, helping your body find an optimal balance.
+ Cruciferous Veggies
Cruciferous veggies such as kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels Sprouts contain sulphur compounds that help our bodies eliminate excess estrogen, working to restore an optimal balance of progesterone to estrogen in the body.
Recipes to try: Hormone Balancing Roasted Chipotle Cauliflower Tacos, Healthy Maple Molasses Glazed Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli Cheddar Stuffed Baked Potatoes or Kale Caesar Salad from the 28-Day Hormone Balance Reset Plan
PROGESTERONE BOOSTING + PMS-REDUCING BANANA BREAD BALLS + CARDAMOM CREAM
As you transition into your luteal phase, your body craves foods that support progesterone production so that it can rise enough to stimulate a healthy growth of your uterine lining. Luckily, this recipe’s primary ingredients (b6-vitamin-rich bananas and walnuts) do just that.
Bananas are also loaded with potassium, which help to flush out bloat and excess salt, as well as magnesium, which works to reduce anxiety and stress.
The oats also boost your progesterone levels and feel-good hormone serotonin, which tends to drop during this phase, leading to feelings of stress or sadness (hi, pms). Because of this dip, you also tend to crave sweets or carbs that give you a temporary boost, but mess with blood sugar in the long run. Thus working in this treat of complex carbohydrates (along with plenty of quality fat, fiber and protein) helps to satisfy cravings without the subsequent sugar crash. Snag the recipe below!
Incorporating a variety of progesterone-boosting foods into your diet (especially in the weeks leading up to your period) can be an easy, effective and tasty way to reduce symptoms of PMS, have a healthier period and menstrual cycle, and naturally boost fertility.
For more tips on how to support your hormones and body through delicious hormone-balancing recipes and foods check out my 28-Day Hormone Balance Reset Plan. Or, if you need recipes specifically designed to optimize fertility for you and your partner, I think you’ll find the Fertility Boosting Fundamentals Guide incredibly helpful.
OTHER PROGESTERONE-BOOSTING + PMS-REDUCING POSTS YOU MAY FIND HELPFUL
- For The Banana Bread Dough:
- 2 cups gluten-free oat flour
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp cardamom
- OPTIONAL -- 2 scoops Bulletproof Collagen Protein Powder (use code SOFRESH10 to get 10% off your order)
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup Ground Up Banana Bread Nut Butter (use code SOFRESH15 to get 15% off your order) or other creamy nut butter of choice (I prefer walnut for extra progesterone-boosting nutrients)
- 2-4 tbsp melted coconut oil (start w/ 2 + add more if still too dry)
- ½ ripe banana, peeled and mashed
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- OPTIONAL -- 1 tsp ashwaghanda or maca powder for additional hormone balancing + fertility support
- For the Cardamom Cream:
- ¼ cup Nut Butter (I love using Ground Up's Creamy Walnut Butter**use code SOFRESH15 to save 15% off your order)
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup nutpods French Vanilla Oat Creamer (or other non-dairy milk) **use code SOFRESHNSOGREEEEEN to save 20% off your order
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp cardamom
- Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, nut butter, maple syrup, mashed banana and vanilla extract until well-combined.
- Pour wet ingredients in with the dry and stir until thoroughly mixed. The mixture should feel doughy, but not too wet, and stick together well. If it's too dry you can try adding more melted coconut oil or mashed banana for a stronger banana flavor.
- Use an ice cream scooper or your hands and roll into balls, placing on a parchment lined pan or plate. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
- While chilling, combine all Cardamom Cream ingredients together in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer until texture is whipped. Drizzle over or completely dip balls in sauce and enjoy.
- Keep in fridge for a week or freezer for 1-2 months.
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