Progesterone, as you probably know, is a hormone. Men and women both need it, although progesterone is more relevant for female health, as it has strong roles in health, pregnancy, and menopause.
But, this doesn’t make your diet irrelevant. While you can’t just consume progesterone and increase your levels that way, the foods you eat can help your body to produce more progesterone. Increasing your intake of the right foods might be essential in getting your progesterone levels to where you want them.
So, in this post, we’re talking about the different nutrients that can boost progesterone production and some of the best foods for each nutrient. We’ll also talk about how progesterone cream fits into the equation and other ways to increase your testosterone levels.
Because some of the foods work in different ways than others, you might need to experiment to find the best combination for your progesterone levels. However, the foods we’re highlighting are all good for you in their own right, so relying on them won’t do you any harm at all.
This vitamin belongs to the B family of vitamins, so it’s one that you’ll find in B complex supplements. It is an important vitamin that has been linked to cognitive benefits, protein metabolism, and progesterone levels.
Vitamin B6 can be notable for balancing hormone levels, helping to decrease estrogen and increase progesterone. Doing this might seem counterproductive, as estrogen is an important hormone too. However, the balance of estrogen to progesterone is important for reproductive health and often you need to lower estrogen levels to increase progesterone.
So then, by helping to lower estrogen levels, vitamin B6 can be a natural way to raise progesterone.
Fish makes its way onto many nutrient rich food lists, but the type of fish you choose does matter. Vitamin B6 is most concentrated in oily fish, with salmon and tuna being some of the best choices.
While these fish are high in fat, you don’t need to stress too much. The high fat content means that the fish is high in omega 3 fatty acids, which have been linked to improved health and decreased inflammation.
Chicken and Turkey
Chicken is another popular option, as it is rich in protein and relatively low in fat. This makes it ideal if you need vitamin B6 but are also trying to limit your calorie intake. You end up with close to your fully daily vitamin B6 intake from a single 6-ounce serving of lean chicken breast.
Turkey has similar advantages. You don’t get quite as much vitamin B6 in a serving, but the amount is still decent.
You could focus on other cuts of turkey or chicken too, including ground turkey meat. The amount of vitamin B6 will vary depending on the type of meat and the cut that you choose, but you’ll still get some vitamin B6 no matter what.
Vitamin B6 is most common in animal sources of protein and fish, but you can find some vegan friendly sources too. Sweet potatoes are one of the best options, as you get around 35% of your daily vitamin B6 intake from a cup of the mashed potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are also a powerful choice for carotenoids like lutein and beta-carotene, which can all promote health and can be especially relevant for your eyes.
Magnesium is an vital mineral for the muscles, nerves, and reactions in the body. It is important here because, like vitamin B6, magnesium may help to lower estrogen levels, increasing progesterone as a result.
The mineral can also help with your pituitary gland and hormone regulation – effects that can also be relevant for progesterone production.
Thankfully, there are many magnesium rich foods, so getting enough magnesium shouldn’t be a problem. Key options include the following:
Many seeds are rich in magnesium, with hemp seeds being the most powerful. But, don’t worry if you’re not familiar with hemp seeds or don’t like them, as there are plenty of other options to choose from.
Pumpkin seeds are the next most powerful option. They also happen to be a very common choice for snacking. You can easily buy roasted and salted pumpkin seeds from the local store and enjoy them as-is.
For other options, why not look at flax seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, or sunflower seeds? You’re still getting around 20% of your daily magnesium intake from a 1-ounce serving, which adds up quickly.
Spinach and Swiss Chard
Dark leafy greens are often promoted for their health benefits. It’s easy to see why too, as the greens are packed full of important nutrients.
When it comes to magnesium, however, some types of leafy green are better than others. Spinach and Swiss chard are both standout choices here. You get more than 35% of your daily magnesium intake from a cooked cup of either type of green.
In contrast, you get less than 20% of your daily intake from the same serving size of kale and only around 10% from collard greens.
While spinach is more nutritionally dense than Swiss chard, it won’t always be the best choice, as spinach is high in oxalates. The oxalate content can be a problem, especially if you’re worried about kidney stones.
You’ll find magnesium in many types of grains and pseudograins. Quinoa is one of the best choices here, giving you a little under 30% of your daily magnesium intake in a 1-cup serving.
Quinoa is also well-known for its nutrient composition. The pseudograin can easily be used instead of rice or even pasta in recipes and ends up being a rich source of nutrients.
Zinc is a key mineral for male and female reproductive health. It’s relevant for progesterone because the mineral may help to increase the binding sites on a progesterone receptor. Doing so provides a way to naturally increase progesterone.
Zinc’s effects may also be linked to the production of a hormone that promotes ovulation. Ovulation, in turn, increases progesterone levels.
Finding zinc rich foods isn’t difficult, including the three examples below.
While seafood is one of the best choices for zinc, the amount you get can vary dramatically depending on the type. That’s not even thinking about all the differences based on where the seafood is caught and whether it is farmed.
Oysters end up being one of your best choices for zinc. You only need two or three oysters to get your full daily intake for zinc, which is impressive indeed.
Crab is another good choice, including Alaskan king crab. You don’t get as much zinc here, but a whole leg of Alaskan king crab still gets you close to your daily zinc intake.
Beef is a powerful option for zinc too. It contains more zinc than most other types of meat and you’re often getting above your daily zinc intake in a single serving of beef.
For example, a ribeye steak can contain around 130% of your daily zinc intake, while a skirt steak might contain a little less. Of course, those are just estimates. The amount of zinc will vary depending on the cut of meat, the size of your serving, along with other factors, like how the animal was raised.
The zinc content of nuts and seeds is much less impressive. You get around 20% of your daily zinc intake from a 1-ounce serving of pumpkin seeds and these are one of your best choices.
Still, seeds are vegan-friendly and they’re an easy snack. You can simply grab a handful and eat them as-is. You could turn to hemp seeds too. These have more zinc. You mightn’t snack on them in the same way, but it’s easy to sprinkle hemp seeds on top of a meal or add them into a smoothie.
Vitamin C is one of the most well-known vitamins. It has been linked to many benefits, like improved immune system function and better wound healing. The vitamin has also been linked to progesterone levels.
While there are vitamin C supplements out there, you shouldn’t need them. There are so many vitamin C rich foods to choose from, including the following.
Guavas are a delicious tropical fruit. The flavor is unusual. It has some similarities to pears, mangoes, and strawberries, but it is also quite distinctive. While there are exceptions, most people love the taste of guava.
Finding the fruit fresh can be a little difficult, but it is often available in cans. Look for versions that have few additives and no extra sugar.
Guavas are one of the most powerful fruits for vitamin C. You get more than 400% of your daily intake from a cup full of the fruit.
Fruits aren’t your only source of vitamin C. Some of the best options are vegetables instead, like bell peppers. Yellow peppers and red peppers are both powerful choices. An entire pepper will provide much more than your daily vitamin C intake.
You mightn’t be eating a whole pepper in one serving, of course, but that’s not a problem. You’ll still get a decent amount of vitamin C regardless.
Bell peppers have another advantage too – they’re lower in sugar than the various fruit sources of vitamin C. This makes them easier to use if you’re watching your sugar intake. They also provide a vibrant flavor to your meal.
Most fruits and many vegetables contain some vitamin C, but kiwis are a standout choice. They contain more vitamin C than oranges or orange juice.
There are two main types to choose from – green or gold. Golden kiwis tend to be sweeter. They contain a little more vitamin C than the green version too.
Individual nutrients aren’t the only way to increase your progesterone levels. You also need healthy fats in your diet. This can be a very important area, as it’s easy to cut down on all types of fat when you’re trying to lose weight, which might negatively affect your progesterone levels.
To begin with, focus on unsaturated fats, including polyunsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats have at least one double bond within their fatty acid chain. The examples below are all good sources of healthy fats. There are many others out there too.
Avocados have become a kind of poster child for healthy fats. It’s easy to see why, as avocados are rich, creamy, and packed with nutrients.
The type of fat is important too. Most of the fat is oleic acid, which is the same healthy fat found in olive oil. Oleic acid may account for many of the benefits of olive oil – so getting it in avocados too is simply fantastic.
They’re also versatile. You can use avocados in many ways, some of which are simple, while others are more complicated.
Avocado oil is an option too. The oil is resistant to oxidation from heat, so you can even cook with it.
Nuts are another healthy way to increase your fat intake. They’re also rich in protein, which is why they are so satisfying when you eat them as a snack.
The fantastic thing is there are so many different types to choose from. This includes the common examples, like cashews, almonds, and walnuts, along with more uncommon nuts, like pili nuts, ginkgo nuts, and water caltrops.
Fatty fish like salmon is another exceptional choice for healthy fats. This type of fish is high in omega 3 fatty acids and offers many other nutrients at the same time.
You can choose between farmed salmon and wild-caught salmon. Wild salmon is often seen as healthier, partly because the fish eat a more natural diet. Interestingly, wild salmon is often less fatty than farmed salmon. This makes wild salmon lower in omega 3 fatty acids than farmed salmon.
But, don’t write wild salmon off just yet. Wild salmon also contains a much lower amount of omega 6 fatty acids. In the end, wild salmon still offers plenty of omega 3 fatty acids and has a better balance of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids. This combination of features makes wild salmon a better choice for healthy fats.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that is essential for health. It’s relevant here because vitamin E can help to improve blood flow and progesterone levels in some cases.
Plus, many of the foods rich in vitamin E contain some of the other important compounds from this list and are good for you in their own right.
Sunflower seeds are one of the best vitamin E sources. You get more than 60% of your daily intake of vitamin E from a single ounce of dried sunflower seeds. The vitamin E content decreases if the seeds are roasted rather than just dried. But, even then, you still get close to half of your daily vitamin E intake.
Almonds are another easy choice for vitamin E. Just like with sunflower seeds, you can simply eat a handful of almonds as a snack. The amount of vitamin E is similar for almonds and sunflower seeds, so you can focus on whichever type you prefer.
Almonds are also well-known for their nutrient density. They’re one of the most powerful types of nuts. They’re easy to find too, regardless of whether you enjoy them plain or roasted and seasoned.
You could also look at almond butter, which is simply made from almonds. Just don’t rely on almond milk, as that product is largely water and doesn’t contain that many nutrients from almonds.
You will get some vitamin E in other nuts too, like hazelnuts and Brazil nuts. However, the amount of the vitamin is much lower.
Avocados mightn’t be as powerful for vitamin E as sunflower seeds or almonds, but they do still have advantages. After all, the fruit is incredibly popular for its flavor and creamy texture.
There are countless ways to use an avocado too, regardless of whether you want to simply slice it up, bake it, make guacamole, or use it as an ingredient in a more complicated meal.
Avocados contain other important nutrients for your progesterone too, including some vitamin C, healthy fats, and magnesium.
This final entry is a little less well-known. L-arginine is one version of the amino arginine and is important for your blood flow and the production of nitric acid. Getting enough l-arginine in your diet can help your body to work efficiently, which includes producing enough progesterone and estrogen.
Arginine is an amino acid, so it’s mostly found in high protein foods, particularly those from animal sources. Fish ends up being an especially good choice, as it provides important nutrients and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Poultry provides plenty of l-arginine too, with chicken and turkey both being good options. Turkey is better of the two, but even with chicken, you’re getting a decent amount of arginine per serving.
Chicken and turkey both tend to be lean sources of protein, so they’re powerful choices on a healthy diet. There’s no shortage of ways to serve them either, as many recipes rely on chicken or turkey as key ingredients.
Soybeans might be controversial, but they’re also nutrient rich. They’re an easy choice for plant-based protein too, as so many products rely on soybeans. The protein content means that you’re getting plenty of arginine from soybeans too.
If you want a simple snack, try boiling immature soybeans in their pods. This gives you edamame, which can be enjoyed warm or cold. Soybeans can be roasted too and eaten that way.
Key Progesterone Boosting Foods
Each of the categories above contains many types of food, which might get a little confusing. Thankfully, there are some stand out foods for increasing your progesterone levels too. These are foods that are high in multiple important nutrients, so they’re an easy way to get started with progesterone production.
Fish is rich in protein, healthy fats, and nutrients, which makes it ideal for health. The fat and protein in fish can help with nutrient absorption too.
Fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, are often recommended, as these have the best concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids. The nutrient balance of salmon is especially appealing. Salmon also has an appealing texture and flavor, which is partly why so many people love it.
You will, however, need to be careful about the type of fish that you eat and the quantity. Fish accumulates some harmful chemicals, including mercury. Too much mercury can be a serious problem, especially for pregnant women, so you’ll need to keep a close eye on mercury intake.
This might mean avoiding tuna altogether, as it is higher in mercury than most other types of fish. Small fish, like sardines, can be a powerful alternative, as they’re low on the food chain and naturally contain less mercury.
The nutrients in seeds are particularly significant, to the point that seed cycling is often promoted as a way to improve hormone balance. The idea is based on how progesterone levels naturally vary during a woman’s natural cycle. Eating specific seeds during specific parts of the cycle could help to even out changes in hormones, which can then improve health overall.
Specific instructions for seed cycling vary (you can find one set here), so you’ll need to dig into the idea a little more before trying it out for yourself. Still, the pattern clearly shows how important seeds can be for progesterone levels.
Nuts haven’t featured heavily on this list, but they are still important. Nuts are all good sources of protein and healthy fats. They also contain other nutrients. For example, almonds are powerful for vitamin E, while walnuts offer some vitamin E and calcium.
Even peanuts are useful, as they contain vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin E, and protein. Peanuts are also less expensive than other nuts, making them an easier choice in some situations.
Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, can help with progesterone too. This is partly because of the nutrients present, but also because cruciferous vegetables contain a compound called indole-3-carbinol.
This compound is relevant to estrogen metabolism, which may mean that it can help to keep estrogen levels in check and allow your progesterone to naturally increase.
Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are commonly recommended too. Their magnesium content is a key reason for turning to these products. Chocolate offers zinc too, along with healthy polyphenols.
You’ll get the most benefits by focusing on dark chocolate with a high cocoa percentage. After all, the important nutrients come from the cocoa beans, so the higher the cocoa percentage, the more beneficial compounds there are.
Pay attention to the ingredients label too. You’re looking for products that are as natural as possible. Avoid any that heavily rely on artificial ingredients or that are high in sugar. The same patterns are true for cocoa powder and for dark chocolate.
What About Progesterone Cream?
Progesterone cream offers a more direct way to increase progesterone levels. It relies on natural plant-based progesterone and can be purchased over the counter.
The cream acts a little like hormone replacement therapy (HRT). But, unlike other HRT approaches, progesterone cream uses natural progesterone.
Providing progesterone in the form of a cream can be powerful, as the cream is easily absorbed, which helps the progesterone to enter your bloodstream. Oral progesterone, on the other hand, can be less effective. You may need more to see the same benefits.
Still, it’s important to be wary.
Natural progesterone creams haven’t been heavily tested. They may lead to side effects, including headaches or depression. There’s also the risk that you’d end up with too much progesterone.
If you’re thinking about the natural progesterone route – talk to your doctor first. They can help monitor your hormone levels to make sure that you stay healthy.
Other Ways to Boost Progesterone
Food isn’t the only approach for increasing progesterone. Your body’s willingness to make the hormone is linked to many factors. Sometimes having the right food simply won’t be enough.
Reducing stress is another key approach, as stress leads to the production of cortisol. When your body is stressed it prioritizes cortisol production, often at the expense of other hormones like progesterone. Decreasing stress can lower cortisol levels and allow your body to make progesterone like it should.
Excessive exercise can lead to cortisol production too. So, while some exercise is important, keep an eye on your exercise levels. Try decreasing your exercise or focusing on less strenuous options and see what the effects are on your progesterone.
Keeping a healthy body weight is important for your hormones too. Having too much or too little fat can lead to hormone imbalances, as your body tries to compensate.
The foods on this list are all nutritious, so they can help you to keep your body weight where it needs to be. However, individual foods don’t determine your weight. Your diet as a whole is much more relevant, as you need to focus on healthy foods and make sure that your calorie intake isn’t too high.
Finally, be aware that the effects aren’t guaranteed. Other factors will influence the progesterone production of your body too, including your hormone balance, any health conditions, your fertility, and perhaps genetics. Food can help, but if you’re still concerned about progesterone levels, talking to your doctor is important.