Estrogen is a hormone that performs a variety of roles in the body, particularly fostering the growth of genital and ovarian characteristics. Even though it can be found in humans of all ages, the amounts of this hormone are often higher in females who are of reproductive age. It is responsible for a variety of tasks, some of which are the regulation of menstrual cycles as well as the expansion and development of breast tissue. Estrogen levels fall during menopause. This can result in symptoms like hot flashes and sweating during the night. Phytoestrogens, commonly referred to as dietary estrogen, are chemicals that occur naturally in plants and may perform functions that are analogous to those of the estrogen produced by the human body. These are found in high concentrations in certain plant-based meals.
Phytoestrogens function in a manner that is analogous to that of estrogen and may be of value in the treatment of menopause as well as other disorders. However, the research isn’t definitive either way. This article examines some foods that are particularly strong in phytoestrogens. In addition to this, it provides an explanation of what the research has found to be the health benefits of phytoestrogens. There are plant foods that contain phytoestrogens, which act like that of estrogen. This is because these chemicals have a similar molecular structure to estradiol, which is the principal female sex hormone.
What physiological effects do phytoestrogens have?
Phytoestrogens have a molecular structure that is similar to that of estrogen and may mimic the hormonal effects of estrogen. The attachment of phytoestrogens to estrogen-binding sites in the cells of your body can alter the way estrogen works within the body. But different phytoestrogens perform their roles in different ways. According to the findings of the research, phytoestrogens are capable of producing estrogenic as well as antiestrogenic effects. It implies that certain phytoestrogens have estrogen-like properties and raise the amount of estrogen in your body. The varied activities of phytoestrogens have made the subject of phytoestrogens a contentious one in the fields of nutrition and health.
Even though several experts have expressed worries that consuming a large number of phytoestrogens can result in an unbalanced level of hormones, the vast majority of data has connected them to favorable impacts on health. The use of phytoestrogens after menopause has been linked in multiple investigations to reductions in amounts of cholesterol, fewer signs of menopause, and a lower risk of osteoporosis in addition to a lower probability of developing specific kinds of malignancy.
On the other hand, some experts believe that the positive impacts may not be all that significant, and more research that demonstrates long-term results is still required. Phytoestrogens can either have estrogenic or antiestrogenic effects, depending on the specific compound. The vast majority of the data that is now available connects phytoestrogens to a variety of positive health effects. Studies conducted on animals and in cells indicate that phytoestrogens may also be able to bind to these receptors, which may result in estrogenic or anti-estrogenic actions. But more investigation is required to find out whether phytoestrogens inhibit estrogen receptors among individuals or turn on estrogen receptors in people.
What are the foods high in phytoestrogens?
Phytoestrogens are substances found in some plants and seeds, such as strawberries and flaxseeds. These molecules perform the same role as estrogen in the body. Foods that are packed with phytoestrogens will be discussed in subsequent parts.
Following are the foods high in phytoestrogens
Flax seeds are a type of seed that can be either golden or brown, and they’ve recently become trendy for their purported health advantages. Lignans, which are phytoestrogens, are abundant in several plants. Flax seeds, in particular, can include as much as 800 times the lignans of other plant meals. In particular, postmenopausal women may benefit from the phytoestrogens in flax seeds, which have been shown to reduce the incidence of breast cancer.
Edamame and soybeans
Tofu and tempeh are only two of the many plant-based foods that may be made from soybeans. You can eat them whole in the form of edamame. Soybeans and edamame are both high in protein and a wide range of essential nutrients. They have a high concentration of isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen. Isoflavones from soy can imitate the actions of estrogen, leading to estrogen-like activity. Changes in estrogen concentrations in the blood may be caused by them. Soy isoflavones have shown promise in reducing the frequency and intensity of hot flashes, according to available research. The incidence of breast cancer may also be reduced by consuming a soy-rich diet in early life. Taking soy isoflavone medications after menopause may also improve bone health. Soy isoflavones’ complicated impact on human amounts of estrogen. More study is necessary before any definitive conclusions can be made by the medical community.
The strong flavor and scent of garlic make it a popular ingredient. Both its culinary and medicinal qualities have received much acclaim. Garlic may affect blood estrogen levels, according to various animal studies, but human research is lacking. Furthermore, an in-depth investigation conducted in 2012 found that postmenopausal women who consumed garlic pills for a month had reduced levels of inflammation in their blood. Additional investigation is required, but this anti-inflammatory effect has the potential to safeguard against estrogen deficiency-related bone loss.
Peaches are a type of sweet stone fruit that have a flesh that is usually yellowish. In addition to being loaded with micronutrients, they are also abundant in phytoestrogens, which are more commonly referred to as lignans. It is important to note that a review of previous research conducted in 2009 concluded that diets high in lignan may reduce the incidence of breast cancer in postmenopausal women by 15%. But more study is required to fully comprehend the possibilities of advantages.
Berries have been celebrated for centuries as having a multitude of outstanding health advantages. They are rich in a variety of nutrients, such as micronutrients, fiber, and phytoestrogens, which are helpful plant components. Cranberries, raspberries, and strawberries are some of the most abundant sources.
A rich producer of phytoestrogens, especially lignans, is wheat bran. According to the findings of a study that was conducted on animals, grinding wheat bran into extremely small fragments called “micronized” particles may allow it to elevate blood estrogen concentrations more efficiently when it is consumed. But in the end, there is a need for more studies to comprehend the effect.
Tofu is produced by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting solid mass into white blocks. It is a common source of protein derived from plants, particularly in diets that are vegan and vegetarian. In addition to this, it is a rich source of phytoestrogens, the majority of which are isoflavones. Isolated studies have shown that the isoflavone content of tofu is among the highest of any soy food. Even though the amounts of isoflavone in soy milk are less, it continues to serve as an excellent source.
The fermented soy product known as tempeh is frequently used as a substitute for meat among vegetarians. It is prepared from entire soybeans that have been marinated before being crushed into a cake that is very solid and thick. It is a highly rich source of phytoestrogens, particularly isoflavones, in addition to being a fantastic supplier of protein, prebiotics, and micronutrients.
Sesame seeds are tiny, high-fiber seeds frequently used in Asian cuisine to enhance the crispy texture and nutty flavor of foods without overwhelming the palate. They also contain a high concentration of phytoestrogens in addition to other beneficial minerals. Sesame seed powder may influence the production of estrogen in postmenopausal women, according to a short study from 2006. During the research, subjects ate fifty grams of sesame seed powder once a day. This not only lowered blood cholesterol levels but also enhanced estrogen action.
What are the adverse effects of the consumption of too many phytoestrogen foods?
According to the findings of several studies, phytoestrogens could hurt one’s health. Based on the findings of an article published in 2019, youngsters are more susceptible to estrogen chemicals than adults are. Breastfeeding and the use of soy milk both have the potential to expose newborns to phytoestrogens. According to the researchers, this may affect their reproductive system. But the majority of the research investigations that were examined for this review were conducted on animals, and other studies offer inconclusive results. Studies have pointed out that phytoestrogens can have an effect similar to that of an endocrine disruptor. By the findings of a review conducted in 2018, phytoestrogens may have adverse impacts on the hormones and the immune system.
Additionally, certain individuals have an intolerance to soy products. Individuals who do not have a medical problem should consider including phytoestrogens in their diets in amounts that are considered to be moderate as part of a diet that is considered to be healthy. According to the findings of research published in 2019, phytoestrogens have the potential to be an effective substitute for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for women going through menopause. The compounds may also help reduce the severity of hot flushes. But to corroborate these findings, additional research is required. Isoflavones were found to improve skeletal health and avoid osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, according to a review published in 2020.
The researchers, however, stress that the outcomes are not definitive in any way. According to the same examination, the use of isoflavones may lower the chance of developing breast and endometrial cancer. However, for researchers to validate these findings, they need to conduct additional research.
The Bottom Line
Moderate consumption of foods rich in phytoestrogens is safe because the advantages likely exceed the hazards. But preliminary data indicates that there may be dangers and side effects related to consuming a high amount of phytoestrogens. Additional study on humans is required because the results have been inconsistent. As a result, it’s best not to jump to any firm conclusions concerning the risks posed by phytoestrogens. Although some animal research suggests a possible link between phytoestrogens and these side effects, no such association has been found in human studies. Numerous studies have found a link between phytoestrogen consumption and medical advantages like minimized cholesterol, and a lower likelihood of osteoporosis.
Many different kinds of plant foods contain phytoestrogens. You can increase your consumption of phytoestrogens by eating more of the delicious and healthy foods recommended here. The hazards associated with a diet rich in phytoestrogens are typically outweighed by the benefits. The phytoestrogens found in soy products and flaxseeds can potentially regulate hormones organically, especially for women going through menopause. But further study is needed to verify these results. Those who have a soy allergy should go elsewhere for phytoestrogens. Many vegans and vegetarians rely on soy products as an alternative source of protein, however, they may prefer natural, non-GMO varieties. Individuals should consult a nutritionist or physician before beginning to take phytoestrogen tablets.