Uterine fibroids are the most common pelvic tumor seen in women. Up to 70% of all women will experience fibroids in their lifetime. As more women seek to manage their fibroids condition, there is growing interest in the role diet plays in fibroid growth or shrinkage.
A diet may be the furthest thing from your mind, but knowing the impact diet has on fibroids is important as we close in on the holidays. There is so much temptation to overindulge in delicious food.
As you enjoy family and friends, you can be proactive by not feeding your fibroids. The following is practical information to help keep your fibroids at bay this holiday season. Read on to learn about the best diet for fibroids, foods you love to eat that are also good for managing fibroids as well as, foods that you should avoid now and in the future.
Is There a Fibroid Diet?
There is no specific diet for fibroids, however, eating certain foods helps to reduce fibroid risk and health management. The most practical approach to a fibroid diet is eating foods that have protective effects. Since fibroids depend on estrogen, you want to remove foods that have estrogen in them from your diet. A few examples of these foods are soy and fatty foods (e.g., red meat, non-organic chicken, dairy, and butter/margarine) and refined foods such as white sugar and white flour.
What Should my Fibroids Diet Include?
Managing your fibroids means managing your diet. A healthy diet has numerous benefits for fibroids including slowing fibroid growth and improving common symptoms. A fibroids diet should consist of foods that are rich in fiber, potassium, common minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorous, and iron. A fibroids diet that is high in fiber will help to balance your hormone levels, which in turn slows tumor growth and can even lead to weight loss. Load up on colored fruits and vegetables. These contain flavonoids which block an important enzyme in estrogen production.
A loss of iron is common among women with fibroids, so be sure to add iron-rich foods into your fibroids diet. Iron-rich foods are needed from both the heme and non-heme categories. Heme specific foods are animal-based products such as meat, poultry, and seafood while non-heme foods are plant-based items like whole grains, nuts, and vegetables.
Meat can be high in fat; select a healthier animal-based product such as seafood.
Note that iron-rich foods replenish your strength as well as blood loss, in turn preventing anemia. Vegetables are a source of iron you should also include in your fibroids diet because it increases your intake of Vitamins A and C as well as other sources of essential nutrients. For a detailed list of iron-rich foods to include in your fibroids diet, go to the and download their free food guide.
Diet for Fibroids
To ensure you get the most out of a diet for fibroids, be sure to include foods that have multiple benefits. For instance, broccoli, kale, almonds, and avocados are high in fiber, iron, and calcium. You also want to focus on foods that are rich in contents that could help prevent or reduce common fibroid symptoms. For example, vegetables especially leafy greens are protective food often recommended to help with excess blood loss.
Two years ago I’ve experienced anemia with my fibroids and was prescribed iron pills. However, recently my hemoglobin levels were normal despite experiencing fatigue, lightheadedness, and having excess blood loss. My health care provider recommended vitamins and eating lots of green leafy vegetables.
Some additional foods to include in a diet for fibroids are:
- Seasonal produce such as pineapples and sweet potatoes
- Beans such as chickpeas, lentils, red beans
- Fish (oily) such as salmon or tuna
- White meats like chicken or turkey
- Foods rich in Vitamin D
- Whole grains
- Potassium-rich foods like potatoes, bananas, and tomatoes
One additional item is to make sure you have an adequate vitamin D level. Vitamin D plays a role in the prevention of fibroid growth. The first step in the processing of vitamin D is through the absorption of UVB rays in the skin. The darker one’s skin is, the harder it is to get adequate vitamin D. It is one of the factors in explaining why African-American women disproportionately suffer from fibroids. Up to 80% of these women have fibroids and only 10% have adequate vitamin D levels.
Worst Foods for Fibroids
The worst foods for fibroids are those that are estrogen-rich, high in fat or sugar, and dairy products. Foods that contain imitation estrogen in your body should be avoided. These foods increase your risk of fibroids because they feed on estrogen. As you might suspect, they can also trigger worse symptoms.
Bananas and Fibroids
Bananas are a potassium-rich food frequently included in a fibroid diet. The potassium in bananas helps to balance blood pressure. As blood pressure increases so does the likelihood of uterine fibroid development. Thus, bananas and fibroids help you manage other aspects of your health by simply modifying your diet.
Foods rich in potassium not only play a role in tumor development, but they can help to reduce fibroid-related symptoms such as cramping. How you may ask. Well, potassium reduces muscle control and nerve function, which then lessens cramping among women whether they have fibroids or not. Bananas also contain Vitamin D.
Are There Foods that Shrink Fibroids?
A frequently asked question is whether foods can shrink fibroids. The short answer is no, but food can be used to keep you healthy and thus stop fibroid growth. There is no evidence that certain foods shrink uterine fibroids. However, there has been promising research on Vitamin D’s role in shrinking fibroids in non-human studies. Currently, there have been no human clinical trials.
There is a study(1) to suggest consumption of green tea extract (epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG) can improve a woman’s fibroid symptoms through reduction of uterine fibroid size. EGCG has powerful antioxidant effects like vitamin D and may share a similar mechanism to impede fibroid growth. It merits further study.
Are There Foods to Avoid for Fibroids?
You may be wondering which foods are best to avoid for fibroids. Given the connection between diet and hormone levels, it will be important to avoid foods that contain a lot of fat, have been processed that include excess salt, refined carbs, and sugars, soy, caffeine, and alcohol. Estrogen which fuels fibroid growth is stored in body fat. Decreasing excess body fat through exercise and eating well will therefore improve your fibroid symptoms, but equally important, it will improve your overall cardiovascular health.
- High-fat, processed meats, and dairy products. These products contain additional hormones such as estrogen and are known to have higher levels of steroids and other chemicals.
- High salt. High salt foods affect your liver, which plays a role in the removal of toxins and balances your hormones.
- Refined Carbohydrates and Sugar. Carbohydrates which include white foods like pasta, bread, rice, cakes, and cookies can alter your estrogen levels. Estrogen causes fibroids to grow. Consuming large amounts of sugar causes inflammation and weight gain. Weight gain is associated with hormone imbalance.
- Soy. Soy has phytoestrogens, which are plant estrogens. Their name comes from their natural occurrence in plants. These compounds mimic estrogen in your body. They can be useful when estrogen is needed, but when it is not they are a problem for women with fibroids. Fibroids feed off estrogen, so more estrogen triggers tumor growth.
- Caffeine. Like salt, caffeine impacts your liver. When the liver is under excess stress, it is unable to function properly therefore causing an imbalance in hormones. Caffeine has also been connected to a greater risk of fibroid development. The more caffeine you drink, the greater your risk of fibroids.
- Alcohol. Consuming alcohol in excess can cause the body to become inflamed cause a reduction in immune function. Simply reducing or eliminating the amount of alcohol you drink reduces alcohol can help to balance your hormone levels.
Strategies for Success in Battling Fibroids
Before starting a fibroid diet, schedule an appointment to speak with your primary care provider. Reflect on the kinds of food you enjoy, and then determine whether or not you should keep those items in your diet or avoid them.
As you venture to holiday gatherings, here are some strategies to keep in mind to prevent feeding your fibroids.
- Read nutrition labels. Read the nutrition label for anything you eat to ensure you know what it contains and whether or ask you should eat or avoid it.
- Drink plenty of water. Drinking more water will fill you up quickly and prevent you from overindulging on food especially unhealthy food items.
- Accountability. Choose an accountability partner before or at your holiday gathering.
- Plan. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Be proactive and prepare a list of food items that you like and that also fit your fibroids diet. Also, know your food triggers.
- Count the cost. Determine the short- and long-term cost or benefit of eating a certain food.
- Practice. Do not wait until your holiday festivities to start. Use the 7-days fibroids diet plan to make your decision-making process run smoothly.
- Do not be afraid to start again. If you have challenges making, it’s okay. Start over and make better decisions. Habits are hard to break. Extend yourself some grace.
- Be confident. You can and do anything you put your mind to. You have the information, so just trust yourself!
If you would like to learn more about uterine fibroids, symptoms, and uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), contact Dr. John Lipman, one of the leading fibroid experts in the USA, by calling 770-214-4600, or make an appointment on ATLii.com.
About the Author: Dr. LaShanta J. Rice is the Founder and CEO of Synergy Empowerment Solutions LLC, a public health strategies and consulting company that offers tailored, in-depth trainings for individuals and organizations. She is also an adjunct professor at Liberty University Online. Previously, she served as an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and as an Associate Member in the Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina. She is a trained social and behavioral scientist and former Environmental Protection Agency Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Fellow. Dr. Rice was diagnosed with fibroids in 2007 and underwent a myomectomy in 2015.
1. Roshdy E, Rajaratnam V, Maitra S, et al. Treatment of symptomatic uterine fibroids with green tea extract: a pilot randomized controlled clinical study. Int J Women’s Health. 2013; 5:477-486.