7 Foods to Fight PMS

Premenstrual syndrome affects an estimated 40% of American women. Studies have found that eating certain foods may help decrease those pesky symptoms.
159120388

159120388

slices of pineapple

Photo by: Okea

Okea

Mood swings, irritability, bloating . . . who needs it? Premenstrual syndrome affects an estimated 40% of American women. Studies have found that eating certain foods may help decrease those pesky symptoms.

#1: Yogurt

A study conducted at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst found that women who ate the highest amount of calcium (around 1,200 milligrams a day) were 30% less likely to develop PMS than women who ate much lower amounts (530 milligrams per day). One cup of nonfat plain yogurt has about 40% of your daily recommended dose (400 milligrams).

Other calcium-rich foods: milk, calcium-fortified orange juice and soy milk, kale, bok choy

#2: Salmon

Vitamin D and calcium work together to help keep bones strong. The same study conducted at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst found that women who took in more vitamin D from food showed a similar risk reduction as when eating a high-calcium diet. Three ounces of cooked salmon has over 100% of your recommended daily dose of vitamin D.

Other vitamin-D rich foods: tuna, vitamin D-fortified milk and orange juice, sardines

#3: Hummus

Vitamin B6 has long been studied in the fight against PMS with mixed results. Some studies do show that getting enough of the vitamin can help reduce irritability, breast tenderness, and depression. Whether or not the studies are conclusive, adding more vitamin B6 rich foods into your diet won't hurt. Made from vitamin B-rich chickpeas, hummus is a wonderful ingredient to spread on sandwiches or for dipping.

Other vitamin B-6 rich foods: fortified whole grain cereals, lean meats, oatmeal, bananas, lentils

#4: Amaranth

Magnesium is another nutrient that has been found to be lacking in women with PMS symptoms. A study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women with PMS who took magnesium supplements report being in a better mood than those who did not. But there's no need to pop pills, you can get plenty of this mineral through food. One half cup of amaranth has 20% of your daily recommended amount of magnesium.

Other magnesium-rich foods: Cashews, spinach, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, sweet potatoes, millet

#5: Pineapple

Throughout the menstrual cycle blood levels of manganese fluctuate and developing research has found that manganese along with calcium can help improve PMS symptoms such as irritability, mood swings, depression and tension. More studies do need to be conducted to determine if it's indeed manganese that's helping, but in the meantime it's a good idea to add foods rich in manganese especially during those times when PMS rears its ugly head. One cup of pineapple chunks has 76% of your daily recommended amount of manganese—top it on cottage cheese or yogurt or skewer and grill it

Other manganese-rich foods: pecans, wheat germs, peanuts, quinoa, brown rice

#6: Chamomile tea

Sit back and relax those cramping muscles with a warm cup of chamomile tea. This tea has been shown to relieve muscle spasms and can help reduce anxiety and irritability.

#7 Pumpkin Seeds

Studies have shown that zinc levels are lower in women who have PMS. One of the functions of zinc is to help control sex hormones. One quarter cup of pumpkin seeds has about 17% of your daily recommended amount of zinc. Add to a trail mix or top on yogurt or hot cereal.

Other zinc-rich foods: oysters, crab, fortified whole grain cereal, pork, almonds, yogurt

Foods to Avoid

These foods can worsen PMS symptoms—you'll probably want to avoid them, especially when symptoms are at their worst.

  • Alcohol: It can increase breast tenderness and lower blood sugar levels, making mood swings (if you get them) even worse. If you do choose to consume alcohol, your friends and family will probably benefit if you drank in moderation.
  • Salty foods: They cause water retention and bloating.
  • Caffeine: It can lead to increased irritability and breast tenderness. Choose decaffeinated or herbal varieties of tea and coffee instead.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »

Keep Reading

Next Up

Foods that Fight Inflammation

Eating certain foods can contribute to inflammation and disease, but luckily, eating the right foods can help fight inflammation.

Food Fight!: Caffeinated Drinks

Looking for that morning or afternoon buzz? Caffeinated creations -- including coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks -- vary not only in their pick-me-up powers but also in their nutritional benefits. Find out which one offers the most perks.

Food Fight!: Pasta vs. Pizza

These two Italian delights are going head-to-head! See which mouthwatering favorite will come out on top.

Food Fight: Eggnog vs. Hot Cocoa

'Tis the season for eggnog and hot chocolate. Find out which is the most sensible choice – it all comes down to how you make it.

Food Fight!: Broccoli vs. Kale

A popular ad agency is pitting broccoli against kale. But is one of these cruciferous veggies healthier than the other?

Food Fight!: Tofu vs. Tempeh

Do you turn to tofu or tempeh as a meatless protein option? Find out which is the healthier choice.

8 Cancer-Fighting Foods

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is here! Researchers believe that 60 percent of cancer deaths can be prevented by adopting a healthier lifestyle. Start with your diet: Work these 8 cancer-fighting foods into your daily routine.

Food Fight!: Smoothie vs. Juice

Should you gulp down a glass of refreshing juice or opt for the blended deliciousness of a smoothie? We pit these two foods against each other in this latest food fight.

On TV

The Pioneer Woman

9:30am | 8:30c

Cupcake Wars

10am | 9c

Cupcake Wars

11am | 10c

Cake Wars

12pm | 11c

The Pioneer Woman

1:30pm | 12:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

2:30pm | 1:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

3:30pm | 2:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

4:30pm | 3:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

5:30pm | 4:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

6:30pm | 5:30c

Chopped

7pm | 6c

Chopped

8pm | 7c

Chopped

9pm | 8c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Beat Bobby Flay

10pm | 9c

Beat Bobby Flay

10:30pm | 9:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

11:30pm | 10:30c

Chopped

12am | 11c

Beat Bobby Flay

1:30am | 12:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

2:30am | 1:30c

Chopped

3am | 2c

Mystery Diners

4:30am | 3:30c

Food Network Apps

In the Kitchen

Get over 70,000 FN recipes on all your mobile devices.

Facebook Messenger

Ask our bot for recipes, meal ideas and daily food trivia.

Amazon Echo

Just say "Alexa, enable Food Network skill" to get started.