Many – but not all – veggies can increase your energy and balance your hormones. Here are the best vegetables to eat for a normal menstrual cycle; they’re healthy, delicious, inexpensive, and versatile. You can eat them raw or cooked, grilled or sautéd, stir fried or baked (my favorite vegetables are baked yams and kimchi – but not cooked together!).
In 9 Easy Healthy Ways to Make Your Menstrual Cycle Regular, I shared a variety of tips for women who want normal periods – but I only mentioned a couple of the best veggies to eat. In this article I offer a list of healthy vegetables that are proven higher in nutrients and minerals, and that can change how your body feels and looks.
The most exciting thing about this list is that I grouped it into categories (eg, Green Veggies, Red Veggies, White Veggies). This will make it easier for you to find the best vegetables to eat for your own lifestyle. Every food on this list can help you get a normal menstrual cycle by balancing your hormones and improving your overall health.
I also share links to the best vegetarian and veggie cookbooks, so you can find easy ways to eat and cook these superfoods.
23 Best Vegetables to Eat for a Normal Menstrual Cycle
Keep your eye out for veggies that stabilize your energy levels and mood – because that’s one of the best ways to get a normal menstrual cycle. Keeping your hormones balanced is crucial to getting regular periods.
Here’s a quick list of the 10 categories of super veggies:
- Green veggies (avocados, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Zucchini flowers)
- Leafy dark greens (beet greens, collard greens, kale, spinach)
- Maca (one of the best vegetables for female fertility and a normal menstrual cycle)
- Pumpkin and butternut squash
- Red veggies (beets, red peppers)
- Sauerkraut and kimchi (fermented foods)
- Seaweeds (kombu, wakame)
- Smoothies with a rainbow of raw veggies and fresh fruit
- Sweet potatoes and yams
- White veggies (garlic, mushrooms, onions)
If you have any tips or questions about these vegetables – or how to get a normal menstrual cycle – feel free to write in the comments section. I can’t give advice, but if you have a specific question, I might be able to point you in the right direction.
1. Green veggies (avocados, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Zucchini flowers)
Avocados are smooth, buttery fruits are a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which can actually help you lose belly fat, lower cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease, and even protect you from some fertility problems. Avocados are the perfect way to start this list of the best vegetables to eat for a normal menstrual cycle; they’re packed with key nutrients such as magnesium, soluble fiber, folate, potassium, protein, and vitamins B6, E, and K.
Avocados are also a rich source of the muscle-relaxing mineral magnesium – which is a mineral that can improve PMS symptoms. An a study in the Journal of Research and Medical Sciences, magnesium had a positive effect on the quality of sleep in older adults with insomnia by extending the time they spent sleeping in bed. Avocados also contain tryptophan, the precursor to calming and sleep-regulating hormoserotonin and melatonin. One study from Ohio State University found that when avocado was added to salads and salsa, it helped increase the absorption of specific carotenoids (plant compounds linked to lower risk of heart disease and macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness). While carotenoids aren’t involved in getting a normal menstrual cycle, they will help improve your overall health.
I wasn’t sure if I should include avocados on my list of the best vegetables to eat because they’re so high in calories (that smooth buttery consistency is your first clue!). To avoid weight gain, use avocado in place of another high-fat food or condiment, such as cheese or mayonnaise. I smear avocado and sometimes even guacamole on my toast in the morning.
Broccoli. When broccoli is steamed lightly it releases the maximum amount of a phytochemical called sulforaphane, which prevents disease and activates enzymes that powerfully fight toxins in your body. Broccoli is a top source of natural plant chemicals shown to help lower the risk of some cancers. Each cup of broccoli also gives you plenty of vitamins C and K. A Johns Hopkins research study found that averaging just four weekly servings of veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower slashed the risk of dying from any disease by 26% among 6,100 people studied for 28 years. Again, this doesn’t make broccoli the best vegetable to eat specifically for a normal menstrual cycle, but it will improve your overall health and balance your hormones.
Brussels sprouts are cruciferous vegetables feature sulfur compounds called glucosinolates, shown to help lower your risk for several types of cancer, according to research from Oregon State University. Loaded with iron and potassium, a cup of Brussels sprouts also has 54 mcg of folate, which is about 14% of your 400-mcg recommended daily allowance. Brussels sprouts are also high in ﬁber and sulforaphanes.
Zucchini is one of the best vegetables to eat for a normal menstrual cycle because it’s packed with vitamins C and B6, potassium, manganese, and folate – and it’s delicious lightly grilled as the green veggie portion of a meal. Zucchini is one of the best ways to get a normal menstrual cycle because it offers lots of nutrients and minerals, which balance your hormones. Plus, it’s low in calories (just 20 per cup!) and has a high water content.
But wait, there’s more! Zucchini is perfect for a dessert such as zucchini bread or cookies….and the flowers of the zucchini plant are edible. French and Italian chefs often use zucchini flowers as an edible garnish for meals and even desserts.
2. Leafy dark greens (beet greens, collard greens, kale, spinach)
“Leafy greens are the cornerstone of any healthy diet since they’re exceptionally rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes, yet very low in calories, fats, sodium and other toxins,” writes Dr Josh Axe in Top 12 Cancer-Fighting Foods. “Leafy greens of all kinds — nutritious spinach, kale, collard greens, romaine, arugula salad, watercress, etc. — are rich in antioxidants known to combat cancer, including vitamin C and beta-carotene (a type of vitamin A).”
Dark leafy greens are natural sources of glucosinolates, which means they have antibacterial and antiviral properties, fight carcinogens, help kill cancer cells, and prevent tumor formation and growth. Glucosinolates break down during the chewing and digestion process into biologically active compounds that prevent cancer cells growth.
Beet greens are the leafy green tops of red beets – they’re edible and brimming with vitamin K, which is linked to a lower chance of getting type 2 diabetes. One cup of raw beet greens provides nearly twice your daily requirement. I eat beet greens on my salad; while I don’t love the flavor, I do believe they’re one of the best vegetables to eat for a normal menstrual cycle because their high vitamin content.
Collard greens contain a wealth of vitamins K and C, folate, and beta-carotene. To boost your daily nutrition, aim to eat about two cups of dark, leafy greens like collards every day.
Kale is bursting with vitamins A, K, and C – and it’s also a great source of calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. One of the most potent leafy greens – and thus one of the best vegetables for all women to eat, even if their menstrual cycles are already normal – kale is packed with folate, which is an essential B vitamin for women and unborn children. Kale is also a rich source of calcium (for strong bones) and vitamin C (for immune defense), and B vitamins are known to be mood balancers.
Spinach contains lots of lutein, the sunshine-yellow pigment found in egg yolks. Aside from guarding against age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness, lutein may prevent heart attacks by keeping artery walls clear of cholesterol. Spinach is also rich in iron, which helps deliver oxygen to your cells for energy; this veggie also has lots of folate, which is a B vitamin that prevents birth defects.
4. Maca – one of the best vegetables for female fertility and a normal menstrual cycle
“Maca enjoys a very long history of successful medicinal use for menopausal discomfort, infertility, and sexual healing,” says Chris Kilham in WebMD’s The Truth About Maca and Your Libido. “The question is not whether it works – because we know it works with certainty – but how it works.”
This vegetable looks like a radish or a turnip, but it’s actually an Andean root. It’s referred to as an herb but it tastes more like a potato. It’s a starchy tuber that looks like a radish or a turnip – and it contains carbohydrates, protein, fats, and dietary fiber. Maca is also rich in plant sterols and a good source of iron, magnesium, selenium, and calcium – all of which help women get normal menstrual cycles.
Some people say maca helps overcome depression and chronic fatigue, improves the immune system, increases general well-being, helps ﬁght menopausal symptoms, decreases stress and anxiety, reduces hot ﬂashes, improves hormonal balance, and improves sleep patterns. Maca should really be at the top of the list of the best vegetables for female fertility and a normal menstrual cycle because it’s an adjuvant to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and is also known to correct menstrual irregularity and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) issues, enhance fertility, improve concentration and state of mind.
Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence to back these claims of maca as a vegetable that improves female fertility problems, eases menopausal symptoms, and leads to normal menstrual cycles. Plus, every woman responds differently to food, which means that the best vegetable for my periods may not affect your cycle at all. However, maca is still a safe and healthy vegetable to eat regularly! I’d avoid maca supplements or powders; there is no proof that processed maca lives up to all those health claims.
As a vegetable, maca can be cooked and mashed; mixed with milk; and dried, ground, and powdered into something that resembles flour that is used in breads, cakes, and cookies.
Ancient Incans loved maca because of its many medicinal purposes. For more than 2,000 years it’s been known for its legendary ability to increase energy, mental clarity and sex drive (hence the reason it might be a helpful veggie that helps to normalize menstruation for women). In Peru, maca has been a staple in the diet of men, women, children, infants, pregnant and lactating women, elderly, and the infirm.
Pumpkin and butternut squash
Pumpkin and butternut squash are loaded with beta carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent chronic disease. Antioxidants protect the body from damaging free radicals, which are the primary cause of aging and degeneration. Antioxidants are not one of the best vegetables for female fertility or a normal menstrual cycle, but they improve overall health in powerful ways.
Beta-carotene helps protect vision, guards against breast cancer and repairs damaged skin, which slows the signs of aging. Your body naturally converts beta-carotene to vitamin A (retinol) – which is important for healthy skin and mucous membranes, as well as immune function and vision.
According to research published in the European Journal of Nutrition, there should be a 40% increase in vitamin A intake for pregnant women and a 90% increase for breastfeeding women. It’s safest to get beta-carotene from food; if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding eat more pumpkin, carrots, and spinach.
Pumpkin seeds also contain protective compounds called phytosterols, which may help combat an enlarged prostate. The seeds are great lightly salted and roasted, and pumpkin itself is delicious in everything from pancakes to soup.
5. Red veggies (beets, red peppers)
Red beets are one of my favorite vegetables toe eat. I love them baked and eaten plain. Beets are naturally high in disease-fighting phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and trace minerals. Beets are also an excellent source of phytonutrients called betalains, which function as cancer-protective antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules. Many cultures have long believed that beets are a natural aphrodisiac, helping to boost and maintain a healthy sex drive by increasing blood flow to the reproductive organs. That definitely makes beets one of the best vegetables for a normal menstrual cycle and female fertility!
Beets have high levels of nitrates and boron, two substances that work in the body to regulate the production of sex hormones. Beets also reduce inflammation, and increase both circulation and energy.
Red peppers are actually the best source of vitamin C – though citrus fruits get all the credit. Red peppers are actually fruits; one medium pepper delivers B vitamins, beta carotene, and more than twice your daily need for vitamin C. Vitamin C is for skin and immunity benefits.
Researchers in the United Kingdom looked at vitamin C intake in 4,025 women and found that those who ate more had less skin wrinkling and dryness. And although getting enough vitamin C won’t prevent you from catching a cold or flu, studies show that it could help you recover faster. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts are leading causes of vision loss, but foods rich in lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C can keep your eyes sharp. A cup of sliced red, yellow and orange peppers contains nearly twice your daily vitamin C, plus 116 mcg of lutein, and 562 mcg of zeaxanthin.
6. Sauerkraut and kimchi (fermented foods)
Sauerkraut and kimchi are my two new favorite veggies! In Kimchi and Sauerkraut – Best Probiotic Foods for Healing Depression Naturally, I describe why I eat these fermented foods every day. For breakfast I often have kimchi and a soft boiled egg on toast, yum.
During fermentation of foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi, live bacteria break down food components such as sugar, making it easier for you to digest and absorb its nutrients. These foods contain prebiotics and 3-endole-carbinol – two key micronutrients that help the body metabolize and break down estrogen. This is important, especially during the first week of your menstrual cycle because your estrogen levels begin to rise. This is why cabbage is one of the best vegetables to eat for a normal menstrual cycle – but, remember that fermented cabbage is better than raw or even cooked cabbage.
Fermented foods offer more and better probiotics than yogurt. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are essential for the smooth and happy functioning of your brain, intestines, and immune system. The beneficial bacteria in fermented foods may promote gut health by increasing healthy bacteria.
Take a probiotic – such as NatureWise Women’s Probiotics with Cranberry – if you don’t like kimchi or sauerkraut. A probiotic isn’t a veggie that will normalize your menstrual cycle, but it will help keep your intestines regular and healthy.
“If you’re consuming a diet rich in fermented foods, you’re essentially bathing your GI tract in healthy, food-related organisms,” says food scientist Robert Hutkins, PhD, a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Could Fermented Foods Boost Your Health? on the WebMD website.
7. Seaweeds (kombu, wakame)
A powerhouse of minerals, vitamins and amino acids, seaweeds are an excellent source of iodine, calcium and iron. Minerals are vital to a normal menstrual cycle; various types of seaweeds are a great way to ensure you get plenty of them.
Seaweeds help prevent damage to tissues from chemicals, heavy metals, and certain types of radioactivity. They also help offset stress, boost stamina, and restore sexual interest.
Kombu is an edible kelp found in the forests deep in the seas and oceans. These forests are very beneficial because they provide an important ecosystem for the organisms that live between the sea floor and the surface of the ocean. The various seaweeds absorb a vast array of nutrients, making them a powerful, health-promoting type of food.
Kombu contains calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, vanadium and zinc — which is one it’s a best vegetable to eat for a normal cycle of menstruation. It’s a rich source of iodine and vanadium, which may help convert existing blood sugars into storable starches and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
“Consuming sea vegetables may affect a woman’s normal menstrual cycle, affecting the total cumulative estrogen secretion that occurs over a long period of time,” writes Dr Axe in Kombu: The Seaweed that Improves Digestion, Thyroid Function & More! “Too much estrogen can put women at high risk of breast cancer, yet kombu may offer some benefits. Healthy cholesterol levels are needed to produce estrogen, and kombu may be the perfect choice to help keep cholesterol levels in check.
Also, the manganese and calcium in sea vegetables can help to improve symptoms of PMS. A study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women who have lower levels of manganese in their blood experienced more pain and mood-related symptoms during PMS and menstruation.
Because manganese helps with hormone regulation and displays antioxidant activity, wakame may also work as a natural infertility treatment. If you’ve eaten this veggie – and you agree that it’s one of the best – please let me know how you cook it! Do you think it’s had a positive effect on normalizing your menstrual cycle?
Wakame is kombu’s cousin – and it, too, is rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals. Wakame provides a great nutritional boost while supporting your cardiovascular system, maintaining hormonal balance, strengthening bones, improving circulation and promoting skin health. A study conducted at the University of California even suggests that wakame may lower breast cancer incidence and mortality among postmenopausal women.
Wakame provides manganese, iron and calcium, three minerals that help to balance hormones naturally. Typically, wakame is used to make miso soup and seaweed salad. Other types of seaweed include nori, arame, and Tasmanian float leaf. You can also buy kelp seaweed in tablet and powdered form, using the latter as a salt substitute.
8. Smoothies with a rainbow of raw veggies and fresh fruit
When you’re getting your period, your estrogen levels increase. Fresh, raw veggies are filled with antioxidants and fiber, which your body needs to break down and move estrogen out of your system quickly. The best way to ensure you’re eating the best vegetables for a normal menstrual cycle is to eat a large variety of healthy veggies – which is why smoothies are crucial to this list!
Even more important: raw juices and healthy smoothies that contain veggies ensure your liver is getting enough of the micronutrient glutathione, which is required to break down estrogen.
In 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse, JJ Smith provides a shopping list, recipes, and detailed instructions for a green smoothie cleanse for your body. This is a great introduction to – and recipes for – smoothies as part of your daily eating plan. You’ll learn how to lose weight, increase your energy level, clear your mind, and improve your overall health.
Making your own homemade fruit and veggie smoothies – or raw juice – is quick and easy. The healthiest ingredients include kale, beets, apple, celery, carrots, ginger, and every item in this list of the best vegetables to eat. If you’re hesitant about eating certain veggies for the first time, thrown them in a smoothie.
Chia seeds, kombu, beet tops, spinach, and other vegetables are fantastic additions to smoothies because you won’t taste them, yet you may still notice a more regular menstrual cycle.
9. Sweet potatoes and yams – my favorite vegetables (and not just for a normal menstrual cycle)
Sweet potatoes and yams are jam-packed with nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants that will boost your health and immune system. They’re both root vegetables; they often get confused with one another.
Yams are native to West Africa and Asia, and only date back to 50,000 B.C. Sweet potatoes come from a far older family; their roots are back in prehistoric Ecuador and Peru.
What’s the difference between a yam and a sweet potato? I once bought one of each and baked them side by side in the oven. My taste test told me yams have a sweeter, richer flavor and they’re darker deeper orange color. On the other hand, sweet potatoes taste more like a potato with a wee sprinkle of sugar. They are also lighter in color.
7 Reasons Yams Are the Best Veggies for a Normal Menstrual Cycle
- They’re high in carbohydrates, which increase the feel-good hormone serotonin and satisfy your period-induced cravings for unhealthy fats, carbs, and sugar.
- They’re super high in vitamins, which increase energy, brain power, and immunity.
- They’re delicious and easy to cook.
- Just one medium baked sweet potato or yam can give your body a whopping 400% of the vitamin A it needs to keep your eyes and skin healthy and help hold off illness.
- They contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant thought to fend off illness. This might include certain cancers as well as eye disease.
- Yams and sweet potatoes have a unique protein called a protease inhibitor. When tested against cancer cells, it appeared to halt some growth.
- Their high potassium levels help control blood pressure; their high calcium levels boost your bone health.
In What to Eat for a Normal Menstrual Cycle, I share more information about sweet potatoes.
I especially love that yams and sweet potatoes increase your serotonin levels (that awesome hormone that makes you feel happy!). Foods that boost serotonin are essential to eat before your period because they stabilize your mood and energy levels. And that’s one of the best ways to get a normal menstrual cycle: eat vegetables that stabilize your energy levels and mood.
10. White veggies (garlic, mushrooms, onions)
Garlic adds flavor to savory dishes and major health benefits to your body. Garlic is related to onions, and contains more than 70 active phytochemicals, including allicin, which may decrease high blood pressure, and fight infection and bacteria. High consumption of garlic lowered rates of ovarian, colorectal, and other cancers, according to a research review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. So, while garlic isn’t one of the best vegetables to eat for a normal menstrual cycle in a direct way, it will increase your overall health.
The key to healthier garlic: Crush the cloves, and let them stand for up to 30 minutes before heating them. This activates and preserves their heart-protecting compounds.
Mushrooms are a much healthier veggie than I thought! Researchers from Pennsylvania State University found that two of the most commonly purchased mushrooms – crimini (the small, brown ones) and portobello – ranked as high in antioxidants as string beans, red bell peppers, and carrots.
One study showed that women who ate just one third of an ounce of raw mushrooms a day (that’s about one button mushroom) had a 64% reduction in breast cancer risk. Other research suggests that mushrooms reduce the effects of aromatase, a protein that helps produce estrogen – a major factor in some breast cancers. So, believe it or not, mushrooms may be one of the best vegetables to eat for a normal cycle of menstruation.
“All mushrooms promote health and pack savory umami flavor – even economical white button mushrooms,” writes registered dietitian Jackie Newgent, author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook: The Whole Food Approach to Great Taste and Healthy Eating. “They also provide significant antioxidants and vitamin D, and may play a role in prevention of prostate cancer and type 2 diabetes.”
Onions are full of polyphenols and flavonoids, both linked to lower oxidative stress and reduced cancer risk. An onion’s sulfur compounds help control diabetes symptoms, and protect your heart from disease. The chromium found in onions has been shown to regulate blood sugar. The outermost layers tend to hold more healthy nutrients, so don’t peel too far in.
That’s a big long list of the 23 best veggies to eat for a normal and regular menstrual cycle, isn’t it? Phew. God really has filled our plates – and our gardens, and our planet – with such a wide variety of healthy food! He is amazing, and so are our bodies…even when we’re struggling with irregular periods.
I welcome your thoughts on these vegetables for normal menstrual cycles. I can’t offer advice, but I’m always happy to hear what you think.