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J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Aug 27;56(16):7311-5. doi: 10.1021/jf801534g. Epub 2008 Aug 1.

Phytoestrogen content of beverages, nuts, seeds, and oils.

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MRC Dunn Human Nutrition Unit, Wellcome Trust/MRC Building, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 0XY, United Kingdom.


Phytoestrogens are secondary plant metabolites that have received increasing attention for their bioactivity, in particular due to their structural and functional similarity to 17beta-estradiol. Although urinary and plasma phytoestrogens can be used as biomarkers for dietary intake, this is often not possible in large epidemiological studies or in the assessment of general exposure in free-living individuals. Accurate information about dietary phytoestrogens is therefore important, but there are very limited data concerning food contents. In this study was analyzed a comprehensive selection of tea, coffee, alcoholic beverages, nuts, seeds, and oils for their phytoestrogen content using a newly developed sensitive method based on LC-MS incorporating (13)C 3-labeled standards. Phytoestrogens were detected in all foods analyzed, although the contents in gin and bitter (beer) were below the limit of quantification (1.5 microg/100 g). Lignans were the main type of phytoestrogens detected. Tea and coffee contained up to 20 microg/100 g phytoestrogens and beer (except bitter) contained up to 71 microg/100 g, mainly lignans. As these beverages are commonly consumed, they are a main source of dietary lignans. The results published here will contribute to databases of dietary phytoestrogen content and allow a more accurate determination of phytoestrogen exposure in free-living individuals.

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