Foods That May Help Ease PMS

When it comes to soothing premenstrual symptoms (PMS), the best medicine may be found in your kitchen. Eating certain foods such as vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds may help ease the mood swings, bloating, blemishes, breast tenderness and fatigue that often precede menstruation.

According to a study appearing in the manual Obstetrics and Gynecology, a low-fat, vegetarian diet that included legumes and whole grains increased the sex-hormone-binding globulin in the blood, which keeps hormones in check and therefore many PMS symptoms at bay.1

Both magnesium and calcium may also play crucial roles in the prevention of PMS symptoms. For example, consuming 200 mg of magnesium daily (which is slightly more than a cup of cooked spinach) was found to reduce bloating, weight gain and breast tenderness.2 Other magnesium-rich foods include peanut butter, lima beans, kale and nuts. Another study in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy showed a daily dose of 1,200 mg of calcium (found in spinach, broccoli and soy milk) cut food cravings and mood swings, most likely because calcium enhances the brain’s processing of serotonin.3

Avoiding certain foods may also help with PMS. For instance, refined carbohydrates and sugar-filled foods, such as breads and desserts, may disrupt blood-sugar levels, causing fatigue and mood swings.4 And too much sodium can contribute to bloating and breast tenderness.


  1.   Beckmann CRB, et al. Obstetrics and Gynecology. Fifth edition. February 2000.
  2.   Walker AF, et al. Magnesium supplementation alleviates premenstrual symptoms of fluid retention. Journal of Women’s Health. November 1998;7(9):1157-65.
  3.   Ward MW, Holimon, TD. Calcium treatment for premenstrual syndrome. Annals of Pharmacotherapy. December 1999;33(12):135658.
  4.   Gangwisch JE, et al. High glycemic index diet as a risk factor for depression: analyses from the Women’s Health Initiative. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. August 2015;102(2):454-63.

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