A Super Food to Prevent PMS

Medically reviewed in December 2020

Are you among the 85 percent of menstruating women who get premenstrual syndrome (PMS)? Then here's some good news: You can fight back with spinach.

Researchers analyzed the diets of over 1,000 women who suffered from PMS and compared their diets to the diets of women who were PMS-free. And high intakes of thiamin (vitamin B1) and riboflavin (vitamin B2) -- both found in spinach -- appeared to reduce the risk of PMS symptoms by up to 35 percent.

The B's Have It
More research is needed to confirm the link. But investigators believe that vitamins B1 and B2 may somehow increase two brain neurotransmitters -- serotonin and dopamine. And a lack of those two neurotransmitters may play a role in PMS symptoms. But popping a supplement won't cut it. The researchers saw a reduction in the risk of symptoms only from eating B1- and B2-rich foods. Also important: Women who reduced their risk of PMS by 25 to 35 percent consumed twice the current recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for these two nutrients.

Foods That Fight PMS
So how can you get more B1 and B2 into your diet? Try these strategies:

  • Load up on legumes. Black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, lentils, and peas all contain ample supplies of vitamin B1. In fact, just 1 cup of black beans supplies 28 percent of the RDA for B1.
  • Eat like Popeye. A cup of spinach supplies 15 percent of the RDA for vitamin B1 and 25 percent of the RDA for vitamin B2.
  • Say yes to yogurt. A serving of yogurt supplies 32 percent of the RDA for vitamin B2. It's also loaded with calcium and vitamin D, two more nutrients thought to diminish PMS.
  • Savor some sushi. A serving of tuna supplies a whopping 38 percent of the RDA of vitamin B1.

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