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Phytoestrogens sources, health benefits and uses

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 by

Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds which produces compounds similar to estrogen, the primary female sex hormone. They act as a substitute for human estrogen and help balance hormone levels. These compounds are good for people who have low estrogen levels.

As early as 1926, phytoestrogen compounds were discovered. However, it took a while for scientists to realize the importance of these compounds on human and animal metabolism.

In the 1940s, it was discovered that sheep grazing on red clover, an herb rich in phytoestrogen, pastures had increased fertility compared to those grazing elsewhere.

There are different classes of phytoestrogens. These are isoflavones, flavanols, flavones, flavanones, and lignans.

Most common sources of phytoestrogens are beans, nuts, soy beans, tempeh, tofu, soy milk, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, red wine, green tea, citrus peels, flaxseed, lentils, garlic, squash, and asparagus.

If a person needs a stronger dose, some of the best sources are found in herbs such as red clover, black cohosh, ginkgo biloba, and dong quai.

Medicinal uses for phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens had been found to have a therapeutic role in menopause. A study found out that isoflavones may have positive effects on postmenopausal women like improving cognitive performance and mood.

Other studies discovered that they have protective effects against osteoporosis, growth of prostate tumors, and cardiovascular system.

A higher dietary intake of isoflavone was associated to reduce all-cause mortality in women with breast cancer living in North America. They have also been found to be promising reagents for cancer chemoprevention and/or treatment in another study.

Adding these nutrients to the food diet of older women may help in protecting them from the risk of heart disease. High intake of this compound in postmenopausal women appeared to be linked with a favorable metabolic cardiovascular risk profile.

Soy milk helps lower the blood pressure. In a study, it was found out that chronic soy milk consumption lowers blood pressure in those with hypertension. The systolic blood pressure of their participants who drank soy milk for three months decreased by 18 mmHg compared with the two mmHg of those who drank cow milk. The diastolic blood pressure of the soy milk group decreased by 15 mmHg, compared to the 4 mmHg of the cow’s milk group.

Body systems supported by phytoestrogens

Researchers from the University of Catania in Italy found that six months of supplementation with soy isoflavones reduced menopause’s vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes and night sweat by 40 percent. In addition, isoflavones reduced the incidence of insomnia and depressive symptoms.

According to researchers from Hong Kong, they can help protect against stroke recurrence in patients with a history of stroke caused by hemorrhage or blood clot.

These plant-based compounds also appear to prolong the life of women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Researchers found that daily consumption of at least 10 milligrams of soy isoflavones significantly reduced the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

Phytoestrogens are also good for the bones. Researchers found that they directly inhibit the effects of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, a key factor in the development of postmenopausal and inflammatory bone loss.

Where to learn more


Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that can be used as substitutes for estrogen and to balance hormone levels. They can help prevent cancer, bone loss, stroke recurrence, and heart diseases. It also helps support bone health, menopause, prostate health, and brain health.

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