Phytoestrogens and the foods that contain them

The search for alternatives to hormone therapy during menopause has made phytoestrogens popular. Of course, with a specific selection of plant foods, the intake of phytoestrogens can increase.

What are phytoestrogens?

Phytoestrogens are phytochemicals that are structurally similar to estrogens and therefore can bind to the same receptors. In turn, Phytoestrogens are divided into three groups:

  • Isoflavones: soy, beans, fruits, vegetables.
  • Lignans: berries, whole grains, flax seeds.
  • Coumestane: alpha buds, red clover.

Because phytoestrogens bind to estrogen receptors, they are endocrine disruptors but weaker than estrogens. Due to its weaker effects, there are also fewer side effects in hormone therapy.

Phytoestrogens reduce climacteric symptoms and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. They are also considered the cause of gynecomastia with frequent consumption of beer, as they are also contained in yeast. There are many more effects that have not yet been fully tested.

Phytoestrogens are estrogens of plant origin, which, incorporated in the diet, become irreplaceable allies for:

  • Develop body shapes.
  • Maintain muscle firmness.
  • Improve cellulite.
  • Go through menopause without its typical discomforts.
  • Prevent osteoporosis.
  • Maintain an excellent quality of life over time.
  • Some studies also report the potential benefits of phytoestrogens in lowering serum cholesterol levels.
  • Phytoestrogens can reduce osteoporosis.

Risks of hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Although climacteric complaints do not represent a life-threatening condition, they need treatment due to the high level of distress of affected patients. However, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study showed that hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which has been widely recommended for the past 20 years, is not without risk and is now used only for serious indications and use at short term.

Foods that contain phytoestrogens:

The total phytoestrogen content is the sum of the isoflavones (genistein, daidzein, glycitein, formononetin), lignans (secoisolariciresinol, matairesinol, pinoresinol, lariciresinol), and coumestane (coumestrol). (1 µg = 0.000001 g) or to better understand the following table 1 mg is the same as 1000 µg.


Flax seed

Contents ( µg / 100g) 379380
Sesame seeds 8008.1
Flax bread 7540
Multigrain bread 4798.7
Hummus 993
Garlic 603.6
Mung bean sprouts 495.1
Dried apricots 444.5
Alfalfa sprouts 441.4
Dried dates 329.5
Sunflower seeds 216
Chestnuts 210.2
Olive oil 180.7
Almonds 131.1
Green bean 105.8
Peanuts 34.5
Onion 32
Blueberry 17.5
Corn 9
Coffee, regular 6.3
Watermelon 2.9


Food items Content (μg / 100g) Total phytoestrogens (μg / 100g)
Garlic 583.2 603.6
Winter squash 113.3 113.7
Green beans 66.8 105.8
collard greens or fodder cabbage 97.8 101.3
Broccoli 93.9 94.1
Cabbage 79.1 80
Dried plums 177.5 183.5
Peaches 61.8 64.5
Strawberry 48.9 51.6
Raspberry 37.7 47.6
Watermelon 2.9 2.9
Walnuts and other legume seeds
Pistachios 198.9 382.5
Chestnuts 186.6 210.2
Walnuts 85.7 139.5
Cashew nuts 99.4 121.9
Hazelnuts 77.1 107.5
Lentils 26.6 36.5
Red wine 37.3 53.9
Green Tea 12 13
White wine 8 12.7
Black tea 8.1 8.9
Coffee, decaffeinated coffee 4.8 5.5
Beer 1.1 2.7
Black bean souce 10.5 5330.3
Black liquorice 415.1 862.7
Rye bread 142.9 146.3


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