9 Foods that Fight Hot Flashes [According to a Dietitian]
Hot flashes are caused by fluctuating levels of hormones. Changing your diet is one way to alleviate this common but frustrating symptom of menopause.
Try adding these foods to your diet if you are experiencing hot flashes.
Fruit and Vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Eating a diet with plenty of these foods can help reduce hot flashes.
Research suggests that women who eat more fruit and vegetables experience a significant reduction in the frequency and severity of hot flashes.
In addition, these foods can help menopausal women lose weight—another factor that can contribute to hot flashes.
If you don’t already eat fruit and vegetables regularly, menopause is the perfect time to start! Consumption of this highly nutritional food group offers numerous health benefits in addition to helping alleviate hot flashes.
Some super-easy ways to add some extra vegetables to your day: try adding a handful of kale to your smoothie in the morning or have a salad with dinner.
Tofu and Soy
Hot flashes occur during menopause due to a decrease in estrogen. There is food that contains a natural form of estrogen, and eating them can help regulate hormone levels.
Tofu, tempeh, edamame, and other foods made from soy contain phytoestrogens act like estrogen in the body.
One landmark study conducted on postmenopausal women found that supplementation with soy protein reduced the frequency of hot flashes in participants.
Soy-based foods like tofu and tempeh are also great sources of plant-based protein, calcium, and iron. Interestingly, women following a plant-based diet also reported fewer hot flashes than women who eat animal protein regularly.
Flaxseeds are another plant food with phytoestrogens that can regulate hormonal imbalances during menopause.
One review of the benefits of flaxseed found that it may decrease menopause symptoms, including beneficial effects on the frequency and intensity of hot flashes.
When purchasing flaxseed, opt for ground seeds over whole. The whole seeds can pass through the intestines undigested, while ground flaxseed is more easily absorbed.
Flaxseed also contains soluble fiber, which can help improve digestion and lower blood sugar.
Try adding a few teaspoons of flaxseed to your yogurt, salad, or smoothies!
Fatty fish like salmon are some of the best food sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
One study found that, when combined with vitamin E, omega-3 supplementation can prevent or reduce postmenopausal symptoms like hot flashes.
It is important to note that both of the studies used an omega-3 supplement instead of food sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Eating fatty fish like salmon has numerous other benefits for cardiovascular and brain health. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times per week to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has a variety of culinary uses. In fact, you likely have some sitting in your pantry right now!
Since its discovery thousands of years ago, apple cider vinegar has been associated with many health benefits.
Evidence that apple cider vinegar can reduce hot flashes is anecdotal—there is no scientific evidence available to support this theory.
Since women that have more hot flashes during menopause tend to have higher blood sugar levels, apple cider vinegar can be used to regulate blood sugar levels after a meal and may reduce hot flashes this way.
Add a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a glass of sparkling water for a refreshing mocktail!
Like apple cider vinegar, lemon juice may regulate blood sugar levels. Since women who experience hot flashes tend to have high blood sugar, lemon juice may fight hot flashes.
Lemon juice regulates glucose levels by slowing the digestion of carbohydrates.
One study found that participants who consumed lemon juice with bread had glucose levels that were 30% lower compared to participants that consumed just water with bread.
Try mixing lemon juice with hot water and drinking it with your next meal.
Some women reach for a glass of ice water to cool off when experiencing a hot flash. Certain foods can offer a similar cooling effect.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, cucumbers are a “cooling food” and can help with hot flashes during menopause.
Cucumbers are 95% water and so can also help with hydration.
Try slicing up a cucumber and storing it in the fridge to snack on the next time you feel a hot flash coming.
Sunflower seeds are one of the best food sources of vitamin E.
One study found that vitamin E supplementation reduced the incidence of hot flashes in postmenopausal women by nearly one-third.
This study did not use food sources of vitamin E, like sunflower seeds. However, adding sunflower seeds to your diet is definitely not a bad idea. A one-ounce serving contains over half the recommended daily amount of vitamin E.
Try sprinkling the seeds on top of yogurt or spread sunflower seed butter on a piece of toast.
Other sources of vitamin E include almonds, hazelnuts, avocado, pumpkin, and red bell pepper.
Turmeric is a spice native to India that is similar to ginger. You can purchase turmeric ground up or as a root, and it has a mild, earthy taste.
Curcumin is a polyphenol found in turmeric that gives it its bright yellow pigment. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
One study found that intake of curcumin can reduce hot flashes in postmenopausal women. Participants experienced a decrease in both the number and severity of hot flashes.
Try these delicious recipes to incorporate some turmeric into your diet.
The Bottom Line
Most women can balance their hormones and calm hot flashes through dietary changes. However, if you are still experiencing hot flashes despite your best efforts, it may be time to talk with your doctor about your symptoms.
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Dr. Su-Nui Escobar, a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in Miami, FL, is dedicated to empowering women in perimenopause and menopause to live healthier, more satisfying lives.
With a doctorate in clinical nutrition from the University of North Florida, she has expertise in menopause and weight loss, including the unique challenges faced by those on weight loss medications.
Su-Nui’s passion for her field is evident in her previous role as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.