Women who have uterine fibroids sometimes have no symptoms, but those who do may be looking for ways to treat them.
Uterine fibroids, also called leiomyomas or myomas, aren’t associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and almost never develop into cancer.1 But if you have fibroids, you may still be wondering what foods heal and hinder fibroids.
Let’s explore fibroids and whether your diet can help—or make them worse.
Fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years. Fibroids can range in size from a seed to a large mass that can distort the uterus. Women can have one or many fibroids.1
Some women don’t know they have uterine fibroids because there aren’t any symptoms, but the most common signs are:1
- Heavy bleeding during menstruation, or periods lasting more than a week
- Pelvic pressure or pain, rarely acute pain
- Frequent urination or difficulty emptying the bladder
- Backache or leg pains
Uterine fibroids are the most common pelvic tumors among women of reproductive age. Some research indicates that fibroids affect more than 70% of women worldwide.2
What Foods Heal Fibroids
Like other conditions that can be helped or hindered by diet, some research shows that certain foods can help with symptoms of fibroids, or reduce the risk of getting them in the first place. That doesn’t mean there’s a magic cure. But there is some evidence that a diet change that lowers the hormones that fuel fibroids may help.3
First off, a daily diet enriched in fruits and vegetables provides many health benefits. Adding the nutrition ingredients contained in fruits and vegetables, such as carotenoids, is said to be one of the simplest lifestyle changes to make. That can include providing beneficial effects in patients affected by fibroids.4
These seem to be particularly helpful in fighting fibroids: apples, broccoli, cabbage, citrus fruits, and tomatoes. It’s believed the fiber, lower calories and beneficial nutrition content of fruits and vegetables help with fibroids.3
Other potentially helpful foods to add to avoid fibroids or improve your symptoms include:
- Calcium-rich dairy products, such as those in low fat dairy products.3
- Foods rich in vitamin D, such as fortified dairy products or dairy alternatives, tuna, rainbow trout and salmon.3 That’s because researchers have found a link between Vitamin D deficiency and the risk of uterine fibroids.4
- Foods with Vitamin A, such as leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, tomatoes, red bell peppers, cantaloupe, mango and others.4
- Curcumin, a natural substance with proven therapeutic effects on fibroids because they reduce oxidative stress and protect against inflammation.4
What Foods Hinder Fibroids
While research isn’t conclusive, there are some foods that should be limited or avoided. That includes too much red meat, such as ground beef, steak, veal or ham. While it creates other health risks, like increased risk of heart disease, red meat may also play a role in the formation of uterine fibroids.3
As a result, it’s a good idea to limit intake—one suggestion is to limit red meat consumption to no more than six ounces per week—or look for lower fat cuts when choosing meat.3
Some research also suggests that drinking alcohol, especially in higher amounts, can change hormones in your body and lead to the formation of fibroids.3
Here are some other foods to consider limiting, in some instances because they cause side effects like weight gain that can create a hormone imbalance that may lead to fibroids:5
- high-fat, processed meats
- high-fat dairy products
- foods high in salt
- refined carbohydrates
- foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- soy, which has compounds that act like estrogen in your body
- refined sugar
If you suspect you have fibroids, or you’re suffering from pelvic pain, heavy or prolonged periods, bleeding between periods, or difficulty emptying your bladder, see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. It’s vital to see a doctor immediately if you have severe vaginal bleeding or sharp pelvic pain that comes on suddenly.1 Use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you with expertise in women’s health, who can help with diagnosis, treatment, and advice on diet to help uterine fibroids.