9 Foods to Eat for PMS Relief
Discover some of the best foods you can eat to get relief from PMS symptoms! From bananas and oats to sesame seeds and wheat germ, the range of PMS fighting foods is wide and varied. Here's our pick of the 9 best foods to eat for women who suffer from those dreaded PMS symptoms.
If you are interested in more general information about how diet affects premenstrual syndrome, check out the diet section of this online guide. For delicious recipes that combine some of the best foods for relieving PMS, visit our collection of anti-PMS recipes.
#1: Sunflower Seeds
These mild nutty tasting seeds are an excellent addition to your diet if you suffer from PMS. In addition to being high in dietary fiber, sunflower seeds are a great source of zinc and magnesium. They are also an excellent source of pyridoxine (vitamin B6), with one cup providing more than 30% of the recommended daily intake for this important vitamin. Pyridoxine has been shown to alleviate many PMS symptoms, including breast tenderness, anxiety, and depression. These beneficial effects of pyridoxine may be linked to its role in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Pyridoxine is also known to promote the absorption of zinc and magnesium, both of which possess strong anti-PMS properties. When incorporating sunflower seeds into your diet, moderation should be exercised because these seeds, like most other seeds, are high in calories and fat.
Milk is a good source of calcium and vitamin D. Research shows that women with high intake of calcium and vitamin D report fewer and less severe PMS symptoms than women with lower intake of these nutrients. One study showed that women who regularly drink milk are at a lower risk of suffering from PMS than women who drink milk only occasionally. Skimmed and semi-skimmed milk were shown to be more effective than whole milk which contains more saturated fat. However, if you are sensitive to dairy products, milk may aggravate your PMS symptoms.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that bananas may help reduce PMS symptoms. In addition to being a rich source of vitamin B6, bananas are loaded with potassium which helps reduce water retention. This is great news if you often experience bloating before menstruation. Enjoy bananas plain as a snack, mix with non-fat yogurt, slice into cereal, or toss in a fruit salad. Stay away from banana chips, though; they are packed with calories and contain added fat and sugar.
#4: Wheat Germ
Wheat germ is a great food to include in your diet if you suffer from PMS. It provides a concentrated source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), with a mere cup of crude wheat germ providing a whopping 75% of the recommended daily intake for this important vitamin! Wheat germ is also an excellent source of other B vitamins as well as zinc. What's more, it is loaded with magnesium which has been shown to be able to control PMS-related mood changes and bloating. Try adding wheat germ to cereals, muesli, pancakes, breads, milk shakes. When storing wheat germ, keep in mind that it goes rancid fast because of its unsaturated fat content. To optimize the shelf life of this excellent PMS fighting functional food, store it in a sealed container in a cool, dry place away from exposure to the sun.
Can't wait to jazz up your favorite smoothies, salads, and yogurt with wheat germ? Check out these tips on buying wheat germ to get the most out of your next wheat germ purchase.
Salmon is packed with B vitamins, including vitamin B6 which may help alleviate a number of PMS symptoms including anxiety, breast tenderness, and depression. In addition, salmon is one of the best dietary sources of vitamin D. That said, moderation should be the key also in the consumption of salmon. Too frequent/high a consumption of salmon and other fish may predispose you to an excessive exposure to certain toxins — such as mercury and pesticides — contained in fish. The FDA recommends eating fish twice a week, but not more often. This advice is particularly important for pregnant women and women who are planning to become pregnant because the toxins in fish can impair the neurological development of the unborn baby.
Barley has the lowest Glycemic Index (GI) rating of all common grains. Foods with a high GI-rating are quickly broken down by the body and can thus cause rapid fluctuations in blood glucose levels, which can worsen PMS symptoms such as mood swings and cravings. In contrast, low-GI foods such as barley take much longer to digest, providing the body with a slow, steady supply of energy. Hulled barley, touted as the next big superfood, is the most fiber-rich and nutrient-dense type of barley; however, this whole grain food is still relatively difficult to find in regular supermarkets. That said, it is increasily available in health food stores as well as through online vendors (see where to get whole grain barley).
#7: Sesame Seeds
When it comes to foods that help ward off PMS symptoms, it's hard to beat sesame seeds. Sesame seeds are loaded with anti-PMS nutrients. They are a very good source of vitamin B6, with half a cup providing more than a quarter of the recommended daily intake for this vitamin. Furthermore, they are an excellent source of plant-based calcium and a great source of magnesium. On top of that, they provide a very good source of zinc. Sesame seeds, which are available throughout the year, add a delectable nutty flavor and a slight crunch to many Asian dishes.
Eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast is a superb way to start a day off right. Oats are loaded with the anti-PMS mineral magnesium. They are also one of the best sources of dietary zinc for women who suffer from PMS. Before eating oats, soak them for several hours in order to enzymes to break down and neutralize phytic acid contained in oats. Phytic acid, which is present in untreated oats, can block the absorption of calcium, zinc, and magnesium in the intestines.
Although kale is still relatively unknown, the health benefits of kale are well documented. This beautiful, green leafy vegetable is a nutritional heavyweight loaded with vitamins and minerals. It is one of the best plant-based sources of calcium, which makes it an excellent food for women who suffer from PMS. Kale is also low in the calcium-inhibiting oxalic acid which is known to reduce the amount of calcium the body can absorb from many other vegetables (see Oxalates in Kale). The tender young leaves of kale can be eaten raw, for example as a substitute for iceberg lettuce in salads. It can also be transformed into a delicious warm dish by sautéing the leaves and mixing them with crushed garlic, chopped onions, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. When buying kale, choose organically grown produce if possible. According to research, conventionally grown kale is among the most contaminated vegetables in terms of pesticide and chemical content.