Premenstrual syndrome occurs during that time of the month just before a woman’s cycle starts. She may experience mood swings, tender breasts, weight gain, acne and fatigue.
The hormones responsible for this are primarily progesterone and estrogen. However, other hormones such as cortisol (from the adrenals) and serotonin (the neurotransmitter) can play a role.
Other than massive amounts of chocolate, here are three of the best foods to eat all month long, to help smooth out the ups and downs of PMS.
1) The cruciferous family
Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens, kale and Brussels sprouts belong to a family that contains indole-3-carbinol, which turns into diindolylmethane. DIM is an enzyme which helps clear to excess estrogen out of circulation properly through the liver.
That excess estrogen might be worsening all the PMS symptoms. Try lightly steaming, stir-frying, or roasting the veggies, and adding them to lunch and dinner meals.
These powerfully fun little vegetables are full of antioxidants, lignans, inulin, B vitamins, magnesium, and liver supportive properties. They are low in sugar and calories, with a bit of protein, making them the perfect addition to a healthy PMS-free diet.
Try them steamed, grilled, roasted, braised, stuffed or baked. Remember to pull the meaty part of the leaves off with your teeth — then toss the “leaf” — and eat the artichoke heart at the center of the globe.
3) Healthy oils/fats from wild-caught fish, avocados, borage and evening primrose
These beneficial oils contain omega-3 essential fatty acids (such as in fish) or gamma-linolenic acid (such as in evening primrose and borage oils) are known as polyunsaturated fatty acids. PUFAs help to lower inflammation, improve skin health, and reduce breast tenderness with PMS.
Avocados are made up mostly of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) but also of high levels of magnesium and potassium — nutrients helpful for the cramping and water retention which are common with PMS.
Remember that PMS may or may not come every month, and the severity may be to different degrees depending on stress, diet, and lifestyle factors. If a woman routinely experiences severe debilitating PMS, it may be considered premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD.
Talk with your health care provider if your PMS is above-average or more than you can handle. There are both testing and treatment options available to help!
1) Dickerson, L., Mazyck, P. and Hunter, M. (2003). Premenstrual Syndrome.
2) Dreher, M. and Davenport, A. (2013). Hass avocado composition and potential health effects.
3) Johansson, E., Prade, T., Angelidaki, I., Svensson, S., Newson, W., Gunnarsson, I., and Hovmalm, H. (2015). Economically viable components from Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L.) in a biorefinery process.
4) Marques, M., LaFlamme, L., Benassou, I., Cissokho, C, Guillemette, B, Gaudreau, L. (2014). Low levels of 3,3'-diindolylmethane activate estrogen receptor α and induce proliferation of breast cancer cells in the absence of estradiol. Retrieved from
5) University of Maryland Medical Center. (2015). Gamma-linoleic Acid.
Reviewed September 29, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith