Foods That Fight Hot Flashes: What to Look For & Avoid

Foods That Fight Hot Flashes: What to Look For & Avoid

Hot flashes are a common (but uncomfortable) part of menopause that can cause major disruptions to your day or evening. Taking control of them by doing things that may help ease symptoms can be a huge step toward feeling like yourself.

When a hot flash comes on, you’ll probably know it right away – its telltale feeling of sudden warmth in your upper body, especially your chest, neck and face can be enough to cause profuse sweating.

Hot flashes are primarily caused by hormonal fluctuations that cause the part of the brain that regulates body temperature, called the hypothalamus, to become more sensitive to change.
When the hypothalamus erroneously senses your body is too warm, it triggers a reaction in the form of a hot flash to cool down the body¹.

Women experiencing hot flashes due to menopause often turn to things like prescription medication to manage their symptoms.

But, what most people don’t know is that lifestyle and dietary changes also help with hot flashes.


How Does Diet Affect Hot Flashes?

It’s important to note that no food or “miracle diet plan” can completely eliminate hot flashes but a more nutritious diet can ease the severity.

Gut health plays a key role in all sorts of bodily processes, including reproductive health.

A diet full of the nutrients you need to support your body and a healthy gut microbiome can have significant benefits for menopause symptoms, but also general wellness.

One Harvard study review indicates that a Mediterranean diet can help support healthy aging by promoting ideal weight maintenance, heart health and blood pressure. This diet prioritizes olive oil, fish, fruits and vegetables².

Another study suggests that omega-3 fatty acids are also associated with a reduced occurrence of hot flashes³. Likewise, an article studying the pros and cons of phytoestrogens found that foods containing these compounds (such as soy isoflavones) have a positive effect on hot flashes⁴.

Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that have a similar structure to estrogen and mimic some of the hormone’s activities in the body resulting in reduced menopause symptoms like hot flashes.


Foods that Help with Hot Flashes

Because diet can be an easy way to support your reproductive health and minimize unwanted systems like hot flashes, it’s a good idea to seek out foods you know will keep you on track.

Based on what we know about how some foods impact hot flashes, those rich in omega-3 fatty acids may be a good place to start. Examples of foods to try include⁵: 

  • Soybean oil
  • Fortified foods: eggs, yogurt, juice, milk, and soy products
  • Walnuts
  • Fish such as salmon, tuna, and herring
  • Flax and chia seeds

Soy products

Soy foods and products are particularly rich in phytoestrogens (isoflavones) and may help to alleviate hot flashes⁶
Soy is a rich source of proteins and provides various health benefits in addition to easing menopause symptoms. 
You can consume soy in the following forms⁶: 
    • Soy milk
    • Tofu
    • Soy beans
    • Edamame
    • Soy cheese
    • Soy burger
    • Miso
    • Natto
    • Tempeh 

Other phytoestrogen-rich foods

Aside from the soy plant and its variations, there are other foods containing phytoestrogen that can also help alleviate hot flashes.
They may not have a high concentration like soy, but combining them with other nutritious foods is still a great way to give your body what it needs to succeed. 
Sources of lignans another phytoestrogen includes⁷: 
    • Wheat germ
    • Carrots
    • Apples
    • Mung beans
    • Alfalfa
    • Rice
    • Dried beans
    • Barley
    • Oats
    • Berries
    • Wheat
    • Sesame seeds


    Foods to Avoid for Hot Flashes

    Hot flashes essentially occur because your brain thinks it’s too warm¹. It stands, then, that avoiding things that trick your body into thinking it’s heating up (or things that actually increase body temperature) is ideal.

    When dealing with hot flashes, it’s best to generally steer clear of anything that may cause vasodilation (expansion of the blood vessels), as this process can result in feelings of warmth. 

    Women in menopause should consider limiting the consumption of¹:

    • Spicy foods and excessive pepper (foods with cayenne, jalapeños, and hot peppers)
    • Caffeine (coffee, caffeinated sodas, and energy drinks)
    • Alcohol


    Remember to Find What Works for You

    Every woman’s body is different and what helps with hot flashes for a majority may not work for you. When adjusting your diet to include sources of phytoestrogens and other beneficial foods, take note of what you add, how much you consume and how your body reacts. 

    Avoid the things you’ve noticed tend to bring on hot flashes, and lean on the solutions you know make them better. 

    We are what we eat, so a diet that supports these goals is a necessary part of a truly comprehensive symptom-fighting plan.



    1. Mayo Clinic. (n.d.) “Hot flashes - Symptoms & causes.” Retrieved July 19, 2023, from 
    2. Harvard Health. (n.d.) “Diet Review: Mediterranean Diet.” Harvard School of Public Health. Retrieved July 19, 2023, from 
    3. Lucas, M. et al. (2009, March-April) Effects of ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on hot flashes and quality of life among middle-aged women: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial. Menopause 16(2):357-66. DOI: 10.1097/gme.0b013e3181865386. Retrieved July 19, 2023, from 
    4. Bedell, S., Nachtigall, M. & Naftolin, F. (2014, January) The pros and cons of plant estrogens for menopause. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 139:225-36. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2012.12.004. Retrieved July 19, 2023, from 
    5. National Institutes of Health. (n.d.) “Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Fact Sheet for Consumers.” Retrieved July 19, 2023, from 
    6. Harvard Health. (n.d.) “Straight Talk About Soy.” Harvard School of Public Health. Retrieved July 19, 2023, from 
    7. Rodríguez-García, C. et al. (2019, March 6) Naturally Lignan-Rich Foods: A Dietary Tool for Health Promotion? Molecules 24(5):917. DOI: 10.3390/molecules24050917. Retrieved July 19, 2023, from