Adding Portobello mushrooms and a serving of red wine to accompany your steak dinner can act as natural aromatase inhibitors (AIs).

Aromatization is the natural process by which the body converts androgen (testosterone) into estrogen.


Although estrogen — in excess — has a bad reputation among men, it performs a variety of necessary functions such as in preserving bone density, lipid profiles, and cognitive abilities.

However, excessive estrogen production in men can have various deleterious effects such as weight gain, gynecomastia (breast tissue enlargement), loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, and mood issues.

Men who are “skinny fat” suffer from a hormonal train wreck trifecta of excess cortisol, excess estrogen production, and insulin resistance.

Portobello Mushrooms, Red Wine, and Aromatase Inhibitors

Steak and Wild Mushrooms in Red Wine Sauce Recipe by Syjil Ashraf

Steak with red wine is already a killer combo, but the addition of the meaty mushrooms takes a classic pairing to the next level.

Typically, a good new world red wine — my personal favorite is a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon — goes well with a juicy cut of steak.

The Portobello mushroom is a tasty and filling side dish that is worthy of recognition.

For the sake of this article, I have included the two things together as our readers are often avid steak eaters. There are mushrooms with higher potency for the anti-estrogenic ends we seek out there.

Portobello Mushrooms Aromatase Activity

Portobello Mushrooms | Co+op, welcome to the table

Certain fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals that may contain anti-aromatase properties.

One study, that sought to find common vegetables that suppressed the conversion of estrogen, found that Portobello mushrooms had significant aromatase inhibiting properties.

The study noted:

“Whereas pharmaceutical agents have a therapeutic role in cancer, dietary constituents should be explored for their preventive potential. Therefore, our laboratory initiated a research project to investigate anti-aromatase phytochemicals in common vegetables that may lead to the suppression of breast cancer cell proliferation. Our experiments revealed that of the seven vegetable extracts tested, the extract of white button mushroom was the most effective in inhibiting the activity of human placental aromatase.”

It continued:

“To determine whether aromatase inhibition was unique to the white button mushroom, 10 additional varieties of mushrooms were evaluated. The results identified the stuffing mushroom as the most potent inhibitor of aromatase activity; however, the shiitake, white button mushroom, portobello, crimini, and baby button mushrooms also showed significant inhibitory effects. These findings suggest that a number of varieties of mushroom possess inhibitory effects on aromatase activity. Because it is the most common type of mushroom consumed by the general population, we studied the anticancer potential of heat-stable extracts from white button mushroom. Our results led us to hypothesize that the white button mushroom contains potential chemopreventive agents active against hormone-dependent breast cancer.”

Red Wine Aromatase Activity

The Best Red Wines to Drink in 2021 | Departures

In another study seeking to determine whether red or white wine promised any aromatizing effects, specifically with a view to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women; red wine was found to be a potent anti-aromatase phytochemical.


The study found:

“In our previous studies, we found that grapes and wine contain potent phytochemicals that can inhibit aromatase. We show that red wine was more effective than white wine in suppressing aromatase activity. Interestingly, our results from white wine studies suggest a weak inductive effect of alcohol on aromatase activity. On the other hand, the potent effect of anti-aromatase chemicals in red wine overcomes the weak inductive effect of alcohol in wine.”

Red grapes and grape seed extract are well known for their anti-aromatase effects — and are sometimes marketed for this end.

Resveratrol — a plant compound that is found in red wine and grapes — is now isolated and sold as a supplement with numerous health benefits, including:

  • lower blood pressure
  • improved insulin sensitivity
  • antioxidant properties
  • prolonged life expectancy
  • better cardiovascular health
  • combating age-related cognitive decline

Potential Fat Loss

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A study from 2020 has shown that the effectiveness of a weight loss regimen for obese men can be dramatically improved with the addition of an aromatase inhibitor.

The study began from the premise that obese men show an increased expression (i.e. production) of the aromatase enzyme, which is responsible for converting androgens (i.e. male hormones, including testosterone) into estrogen. As a result, the prevalence of hypogonadism – dangerously low testosterone – in obese men ranges from 29.3% to 78.8%. The researchers note that administration of exogenous testosterone to obese men is therefore likely to be ineffective, because the testosterone will simply be converted into estrogen by the excess aromatase; in fact, it may even be counterproductive.

They decided, therefore, to see whether an aromatase inhibitor would have positive effects instead, principally by improving the subjects’ hormonal profile.

Twenty-three obese men (BMI≥35 kg/m2), aged 35–65 years old, were randomized and selected either for weight loss (diet and exercise) with anastrozole (an aromatase inhibitor) at 1 mg daily or weight loss and a placebo . The experiment took place over a period of 6 months. 

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Mean serum Total Testosterone (A), Estradiol (B), FSH (C), and LH (D) levels at baseline, 3 and 6 months for placebo and weight loss (PBO+WL) and aromatase inhibitor and weight loss (AI+WL)

The results clearly show that the aromatase inhibitor significantly improved the hormonal profiles of the subjects who took it: testosterone, follicle stimulating hormone and lutenizing hormone all increased significantly, while estradiol decreased significantly.

But the most shocking results by far – because studies had already shown that aromatase inhibitors improve male hormonal profiles, including testosterone levels (for instance) – were that those who took the aromatase inhibitor lost 2.6x as much weight and 2.3x as much fat as those administered the placebo.

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Absolute change (adjusted for baseline value) of body composition parameters at 6 months. (A) Weight Change; (B) Total Fat Change; (C) Body Fat Change; (D) Total Lean Change; (E) Truncal Fat Change; (F) Appendicular Lean Change.

The study clearly suggests that obesity creates a vicious cycle, if you will, in which fat tissue generates more estrogen, which then makes it harder to lose weight / easier to gain weight. We’ve already discussed this in our article on xenoestrogens, industrial chemicals that mimic the effects of estrogen in the human body.

A Word of Caution

Your body needs some estrogen for optimal health. Recklessly adding an AI to clear up excess estrogen production may provoke deleterious health consequences and it is recommendable avoiding supplementation without consulting a physician first.

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