This week, we've joined forces with the awesome team at Eve Health to share with you some information around seed cycling, what it is and two recipes you can try! Have a read below and let us know what you think...
What is Seed Cycling?
Seed cycling is the practice of eating specific seeds, with certain hormone-promoting benefits, to support the optimal functioning of the hormones that are running the show at any one time.
The key hormones that control the menstrual cycle (oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone) ebb and flow throughout the month, dominating at different times. Seed cycling works by tuning your intake of certain seeds to match the hormonal flow that this seed supports. For example, flaxseeds can support healthy oestrogen levels, so would be best consumed during the first half of your cycle when oestrogen should be the dominant hormone.
Will seed cycling magically balance your hormones overnight? No.
But for anyone who has recently come off hormonal contraception, is experiencing irregular cycles, or has lost their period altogether, seed cycling could be an easy, cost-effective step in the right direction.
How To Seed Cycle
Seed ‘cycling’ refers to the rotation of different seeds between our two main phases of the menstrual cycle; based on a regular 28-day cycle, these are:
- Follicular phase - begins with menstruation (roughly days 1-14); and
- Luteal phase - starts after ovulation (roughly days 15-28)
However, we are humans, not machines and your cycle might be longer or shorter than this. As a general rule, any cycle length between 21 - 35 days is considered ‘normal’. You can either track your cycle and pinpoint your ovulation date to be super accurate, or just add/subtract the days that your cycle differs from 28 to the follicular phase.
As a general rule, to keep hormones nice and balanced, we want to regulate oestrogen levels in the follicular phase, and support oestrogen detoxification and progesterone production in the luteal phase.
Note: If you don’t have a cycle, or you have a very irregular one, try seed cycling using the moon cycles. For example, start seed cycling on the full moon, consuming follicular phase seeds. Switch to luteal phase seeds once the new moon hits. If you’ve been through menopause, enjoy all of the seeds, all of the time, no math required for you.
From the first day of your period, consume at least a tablespoon each of freshly ground (if possible) pumpkin seeds and flax seeds per day. From your tracked or estimated ovulation date, switch to sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.
Blitz up the seeds quickly using a NutriBullet or similar and add them to your smoothie, have them with coconut yogurt and fresh fruit, sprinkle them over your salads or bake with them. The options are endless and we’ve whipped up two recipes further down the page to get you started.
To save time, you can grind the relevant seeds once at the start each cycle phase and store them in the fridge or freezer.
Follicular Phase: Flax Seeds & Pumpkin Seeds
Both flax seeds and pumpkin seeds are high in lignans, which naturally support oestrogen balance by gently assisting oestrogen production and excretion of excess.
Zinc is also one of our favourite nutrients for supporting healthy testosterone levels; which along with oestrogen, should reach their peak around ovulation.
Flax seeds are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help to reduce inflammation in the body and regulate FSH or follicle stimulating hormone, which helps to grow ovarian follicles (eggs).
Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of an amino acid called tryptophan, which the body uses to create serotonin and melatonin - two hormones that help us feel good and sleep well.
Luteal Phase: Sesame Seeds & Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds in particular are rich in selenium which support liver function and hormone detoxification which is important to clear excess oestrogen in this phase.
Lignans are found in both sesame and sunflower seeds and help the body get rid of the oestrogen that has been detoxified by the liver.
Sesame seeds are rich in zinc which supports progesterone production and function in the body.
Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E, which also assists with progesterone production.
Follicular Recipe: Hormone-Loving Cacao Protein Balls
Makes 7-8 large snack-sized balls or about 15 bite-sized balls
All ingredients can be purchased in-store.
½ c pumpkin seeds
½ c chocolate protein powder
1 tbsp raw cacao powder
2 tbsp flax seeds
½ c dried organic dates
2 tbsp nut butter of choice
½ c + warm water - start small and add more as needed
½ c fine desiccated coconut
1. Soak dates in boiling water for 10 minutes to soften
2. In a high-powered blender or food processor, add all the ingredients and blend until mixture is smooth. If the mixture is too wet, add more protein powder; if the mixture is too dry, add a little more water
3. Roll into balls of your desired size and roll in coconut
4. Refrigerate until hardened
Luteal Recipe: Raw Chocolate Seed Bars
Makes 12 bars
All ingredients can be purchased in-store.
1. Place the sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, maple syrup, coconut oil, tahini, desiccated coconut and soaked dates (minus the water), in a food processor and pulse until combined. If you don't have a food processor, you can use the old fashioned elbow grease and metal spoon technique
2. Scoop into a small baking tray and pop into the freezer for 1 hour before slicing into rectangles
3. Melt the cacao butter, cacao powder, maple syrup and salt on a very low heat in a pan, gently stirring with a wooden spoon. You may need to pop the chocolate sauce in the fridge to slightly harden then drizzle over the seed bars, allow to dry and enjoy!
*Item not available online but is available in your local GoodFor store.
This article was written by the team at Eve Health and is for educational purposes only. It is not designed to diagnose, treat or cure. We are all unique. For your individual health concerns it is important to discuss these with a relevant health professional.