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Understanding Phytoestrogens: Nature's hormonal allies

Understanding Phytoestrogens: Nature's Hormonal Allies

Phytoestrogens are a group of plant-derived compounds that have garnered significant attention for their potential health properties. Often referred to as "dietary oestrogens," these naturally occurring substances can mimic or modulate the effects of oestrogen in the human body. This article aims to shed light on what phytoestrogens are, their food sources, health effects, and the ongoing debates surrounding their consumption.

What are phytoestrogens?

Phytoestrogens are a diverse group of plant compounds that structurally resemble the hormone oestrogen. There are different types of phytoestrogens, including isoflavones, lignans, and coumestans, found in various plant-based foods such as soybeans, flaxseeds, legumes (chickpeas, lentils), sage, and whole grains. Once consumed, these compounds can interact with oestrogen receptors in the body, acting either as weak oestrogens or as anti-oestrogens, depending on the specific circumstances.

Food sources of phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens are abundant in several food sources. Soy products, including tofu, tempeh, and soy milk, are particularly rich in isoflavones. Other legumes like lentils, chickpeas, sage, and peanuts also contain varying amounts of phytoestrogens. Flaxseeds and sesame seeds are excellent sources of lignans, while certain fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contribute smaller amounts of these compounds to the diet. It is worth noting that the levels of phytoestrogens can vary depending on factors such as processing methods and the specific plant variety.

Supporting health

Some studies suggest dietary phytoestrogens can also have a positive effect on cardiovascular health [1]. Phytoestrogens may also be helpful for menopausal symptoms and contribute to bone health by mimicking the effects of oestrogen [2]. Additionally, these compounds possess antioxidant properties, which may play a role in promoting overall health.


Prenylflavonoids are a lesser-known subclass of phytoestrogens that have gained attention for their potential health benefits. These compounds are found in certain plants, such as hops [link to 158-60 MENOSENSE when live], liquorice, and legumes. Prenylflavonoids have been investigated for their potential in hormone-related conditions, such as menopause [3] and in bone health [2].

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  1. Phytoestrogens and cardiovascular health. JP. Available online:

  2. , Effect of a Hop Extract Standardized in 8-Prenylnaringenin on Bone Health and Gut Microbiome in Postmenopausal Women with Osteopenia: A One-Year Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. MDPI. ;15(12):2688. Available online:

  3. ., A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over pilot study on the use of a standardized hop extract to alleviate menopausal discomforts. PubMed. Available online:


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Our Author - Olivia Salter


Olivia Salter has always been an avid health nut. After graduating from the University of Bristol, she began working for a nutritional consultancy where she discovered her passion for all things wellness-related. There, she executed much of the company’s content marketing strategy and found her niche in health writing, publishing articles in Women’s Health, Mind Body Green, Thrive and Psychologies.

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