What is Genistein?Genistein is one of the most abundant isoflavones in soy. Isoflavones belong to the group of flavonoids. Because of its similar structure to that of human estrogen it is also called a phytoestrogen, together with daidzein. Genistein is derived from the hydrolysis of the glycoside genistin.
DistributionThe main source of genistein are soybeans. Other legumes, such as chickpeas, contain small amounts of genistein.
Health Benefits of GenisteinGenistein has may health benefits and works on several fronts: it acts as a phytoestrogens, antioxidant, anti-cancer agent and it could help people with metabolic syndrome.
The estrogenic activity of genistein has been confirmed in many studies. Of all the isoflavones, genistein has the strongest estrogenic activity. The estrogenic effect of genistein may explain its protective action against osteoporosis and its possible effect on body weight reductions. Genistein is also used to ease menopause symptoms, such as hot flushes.
Genistein is a strong antioxidant. Genistein removes damaging free radicals and reduces lipid peroxidation. Genistein increases the activity of other antioxidant enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase and glutathione reductase. Studies have shown that genistein can also influence the growth of cells which are not hormone-dependent.
Genistein seems to reduce the risk for some hormone related cancers, principally breast cancer and prostate cancer. Epidemiological studies show that consumption of isoflavones may protect against breast and prostate cancer. High dietary intake of soy products China and Japan are linked with low incidence of these cancers. There are lots of theories to explain the anti-cancer action of genistein: inhibition of angiogenesis, inhibition of tyrosine kinases, antioxidant property, and anti-estrogen action (it is known that estrogen increases risk for certain cancers). Genistein binds with estrogen receptors, preventing the estrogen from binding and initiating cancer growth.
Heart healthMany in-vitro tests have demonstrated that genistein inhibits cellular cholesterol synthesis and cholesterol esterification. Genistein also reduces fatty acid oxidation and exerts lipid lowering effect. Only oxidized LDL cholesterol is absorbed by the arterial cells and prevention of this oxidation will reduce the risk for arteriosclerosis. Gensistein prevents the formation of hearth attacks and strokes by acting as anticlotting agent.
Facts about GenisteinThe main source of genistein is the glucoside genistin. Before genistein can act it first needs to be released from genistin. This normally happens in the stomach (acid hydrolysis) and intestine (action of bacterial enzymes). Some genistein supplements contain genistein which has been hydrolysed in a chemical process.
Synonyms5, 7-dihydroxy-3- (4-hydroxyphenyl)-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one, 4', 5, 7-trihydroxyisoflavone