Q: I get hit hard with symptoms like bloating and mood swings every month. Are there foods I can eat for PMS relief?
A: Your monthly visitor is a given, but feeling so awful it disrupts your life is (fortunately!) not. Diet really can help with PMS relief.
First, eating well overall is going to help prevent some symptoms of PMS, since a consistent healthy diet balances out your hormones. So start with sticking to basic principles: real, whole foods including a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.
Next, a few specific things: Focus on getting enough fiber, since it will keep your digestion moving to help prevent bloating. Complex carbs (found in foods like sweet potatoes and beans) and omega-3s are also super important, since both are linked to mood-boosting benefits. (You may also want to avoid alcohol at that time of the month, since it can worsen mood swings.) Oh, and one pro tip that isn’t linked to your plate: Prioritize getting enough sleep at times when you’re trying to ward off PMS, since sleep is key to stable moods.
Want even more help when the time comes? Try these foods that have been linked to PMS relief in research.
5 Foods for PMS Relief
This tropical fruit is high in the mineral manganese. One study showed that a diet rich in manganese can help reduce mood swings and cramps associated with PMS. Plus pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, which has been shown to reduce pain and aid in muscle relaxation, AKA maybe less cramping?
RECIPE: Pineapple Cucumber Lime Salad
2. Pumpkin Seeds
These crunchy little guys (also called pepitas) are rich in magnesium. In one study, magnesium (plus vitamin B6) was effective in significantly reducing PMS symptoms when compared to a placebo. They also contain zinc, which research shows can help prevent and treat painful cramps.
3. Collard Greens
You can get about a quarter of your daily calcium needs from just one cup of sauteed collard greens, and calcium has been shown to reduce pain, bloating, and mood symptoms associated with PMS. And you’ll be protecting your bones at the same time, natch.
The anti-inflammatory power of the omega-3 fatty acids in salmon is no joke. One small study showed that the subjects who took fish oil experienced a greater reduction in pain from menstrual cramps than research subjects who took ibuprofen.
RECIPE: Broiled Salmon with Spinach
Eggs are an easy source of vitamin D, B6, and E, all nutrients which have been shown to have potential when it comes to fighting painful PMS symptoms. Getting adequate levels of vitamin D has been shown to keep estrogen levels (and therefore PMS symptoms) in check.