Phytoestrogens are found exclusively in plants and are found in cereals, legumes and seeds, for example. The secondary plant substances have numerous positive effects on the body. Among other things, they can improve blood vessel function and blood pressure.
Phytoestrogens are often associated with relieving hot flashes, sweating and other menopausal symptoms. In fact, these phytochemicals offer some health benefits. A current report from the South Tyrol consumer advice center explains how the plant substances work.
Phytoestrogens are among the secondary plant substances. They are only found in plants. The plant substances are similar to the most effective natural estrogen, estradiol.
Phytoestrogens can bind to the estrogen receptors in the human body. In the case of estrogen deficiency, they support the effect of the estrogens. Although their effect is 100 to 10,000 times less than that of estradiol, it is still relevant because their concentration in the body significantly exceeds that of estrogens.
In addition, phytoestrogens have an antioxidant effect and, according to epidemiological studies, they improve blood vessel function and blood pressure, reports the German Society for Nutrition (DGE).
Furthermore, according to the experts, their protective effects with regard to cancer, cardiovascular diseases, bone density and climatic complaints are under discussion.
Previous study results are inconsistent. In Japan and China, where many soy products are traditionally consumed, cardiovascular diseases, estrogen-dependent cancers, osteoporosis and menopausal symptoms, for example, appear to be less common than in western countries. This is attributed, among other things, to an increased intake of phytoestrogens.
Foods rich in phytoestrogens
Phytoestrogens are divided into three structural classes: isoflavones, lignans and coumestans. Lignans and isoflavones are the phytoestrogens with the greatest importance for the human metabolism according to the current state of knowledge, according to an article by the Association for Independent Health Advice (UGB). Coumostane occurs only in small amounts in the human diet.
“Isoflavones are found in soybeans and products made from them, such as soy flour, miso and tofu. Other types of beans and peas contain lower amounts of isoflavones,” explains Silke Raffeiner, the nutritional expert at the South Tyrolean Consumer Center.
“Flaxseed and pumpkin seeds are particularly rich in lignans. Other sources include sunflower seeds, olives, strawberries, cranberries, broccoli, nuts and grain products.”
Phytoestrogens from food are first metabolized in the intestine and only then can they be used by the human body. An intact intestinal flora improves absorption from the intestine.
intake from plant foods
It is generally recommended that phytoestrogens be ingested naturally through plant-based foods. Dietary supplements with isolated or enriched phytoestrogens should only be taken after consulting a doctor, because health risks cannot be ruled out. (ad)