Women's ovaries produce oestrogen, a natural steroid. Nature has its own version of oestrogen, too, a chemical compound known as phytoestrogen (or phytochemical) found in certain plants. Phytoestrogen, when ingested, interacts with the oestrogen receptors already in our bodies, providing us with oestrogen benefits. This takes place by merely eating a food, like an apple, that contains phytoestrogen.
Many herbs, grains, seasonings, vegetables and fruits contain natural oestrogen. However, not every food in each of these categories contains this chemical, nor do they all contain the same amount of it. The amount plays a role in whether phytochemicals help fight disease and how much of a benefit they are.
Natural oestrogen is found in certain beverages as well. You won't find phytoestrogen in Dr. Pepper or other carbonated drinks; however, you will find it in coffee.
Although many consider garlic, onions and chives to be seasonings, they are actually allium vegetables—just as cilantro, parsley and parsnips are umbelliferous vegetables (related to the carrot family). All of these contain natural oestrogen. Other vegetables containing nature’s oestrogen are: tomatoes, peppers, carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, leeks, brussel sprouts, kale and artichoke. In addition, potatoes and soybeans, counted as vegetables, contain phytochemicals.
Herbs and Seasonings
Some herbs and seasonings contain natural oestrogen: oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme, mint, ginger, as well as caraway, fennel, parsley and turmeric. Flavonoids, gingerols and monoterpenes are the three phytochemicals found in these items.
Oranges, apples, cantaloupe and watermelon contain natural oestrogen. Other such fruits include grapes, cherries, berries, lemons, grapefruit and pomegranate. The phytochemicals in these fruits are monoterpenes, carotenoids, flavonoids, phenols and ellagic acid.
Grains and Seeds
Oats, barley, brown rice, whole wheat and flax seeds contain natural oestrogen. The phytochemicals in these items are flavonoids, phytic acid and saponins.
According to the Tulane University School of Medicine, phytoestrogen may be instrumental in reducing breast, prostate and even uterine cancers. Ongoing research (see link in Resources) appears to suggest that Asian diets—due to their rich phytoestrogen components and their low hormone-dependent cancers—explains the "significantly lower rate of hormone-dependent cancers compared to westerners."