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Phytoestrogens in foods on the Nordic market

Phytoestrogens in foods on the Nordic market

A literature review on occurrence and levels You do not have access to this content

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  • http://oecd.metastore.ingenta.com/content/tn2017-541.epub
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Hans Christer Andersson, Linus Carlsson Forslund
30 Aug 2017
9789289350471 (PDF) ; 9789289350488 (EPUB) ;9789289350471(print)

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Phytoestrogens are plant-derived compounds that may bind to estrogen receptors, but with less affinity than the natural ligand estradiol. They may be biologically active as such or after metabolization in our body. To investigate the occurrence and level of phytoestrogens, scientific literature was screened for data on isoflavones, lignans, stilbenes and coumestans in raw and processed foods of plant origin. The review presents data based both on analytical methods hydrolysing glucosides and non-destructive methods.Many phytoestrogens are phytoalexins. Their production is induced when plants are exposed to abiotic and/or biotic stress. This could explain the rather different levels reported in plants by various investigators, and indicates that many samples are required to describe the levels generally occurring in foodstuffs. The influence of food processing was also considered.

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  • Preface

    In many countries, there is a vivid discussion on compounds called endocrine disruptors. These compounds, assumed to interfere with the hormonal systems of humans and animals, are not well defined, partly because of the very large number of compounds that need to be considered. For example, they can be found among industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals and are present in the environment, not least in our food.

  • Summary

    For a long time, nutritional and toxicological aspects of the diet have focused intensely on primary metabolites. In the past three decades the discussion of potential beneficial and adverse effects of secondary metabolites in the diet has intensified. One class of compounds that has been under the spotlight in these discussions is the phytoestrogens, compounds that have the potential to act in a similar way to oestrogens in our bodies. The phytoestrogens may be active as such or after having been metabolised in our body. The active compound may bind to ER but with less affinity than the natural ligand 17β-estradiol. Food contaminants having oestrogenic activity and produced by microfungi are not called phytoestrogens but mycoestrogens. They have not been considered in the present report.

  • Introduction

    Oestrogens are primary female sex hormones, compounds important for the menstrual and oestrous reproductive cycles. Both natural and synthetic oestrogens are known. The natural oestrogens occur in mammals and some insects. Those occurring in mammals are steroidal hormones.

  • Chemical analysis of phytoestrogens

    The methods for extracting isoflavones, lignans, and coumestrol from food products have varied between studies. The most common method has been to mix the food sample with a suitable solvent, followed by hydrolysis of glucosides to aglycones using enzymes or acidic or basic conditions, or using a combination of these. Using such methods, typically only the total aglycone content is measured and the original proportion of glycosides and aglycones remain unknown. During later years, more studies have tried to identify and quantify the individual compounds in the plant, and to do so, milder extraction methods are required.

  • Phytoestrogen content in food plants
  • References
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