Benefits of Genistein (Study Results In!)


Many of us health researchers are seeing a lot of buzz around the benefits of genistein foods and supplements. 

A recent clinical study has  found that genistein, an isoflavone compound, improves insulin resistance and inflammation markers in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). 

Other studies have also indicated genistein benefits heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and potentially cancer.


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.

In general, isoflavones are described as angiogenesis inhibitors (they inhibit the growth of new blood vessels) and phytoestrogens (dietary estrogen).


Benefits of Genistein


NAFLD and Metabolic Syndrome



Reporting in the journal Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that after eight weeks of supplementation with genistein in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) insulin resistance, oxidative and inflammatory indices were improved.

The 2018 study investigated the effect of genistein supplementation on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) as the precursor of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of health problems that include too much fat around the waist, elevated blood pressure, high triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and low HDL cholesterol.

Together, this group of health problems increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.



The randomized double-blind controlled trial, supplemented NAFLD patients with  either 250 mg genistein or placebo for 8-weeks.

Both groups were instructed to follow an energy-balanced diet and physical activity recommendations. Their body measurements, insulin resistance and inflammatory indices were assessed before and after the intervention.

At the end of the study, the genistein group had lower level of serum insulin and homeostasis compared to the placebo group. Compared with placebo, genistein supplementation significantly reduced waist to hip ratio, and triglycerides.


The study concluded that:

“Oral supplementation with 250 mg genistein for 8-weeks can reduce insulin resistance, oxidative and inflammatory indices along with improvement in fat metabolism in patients with NAFLD.”






Estrogen has a powerful protective effect on bone. In women, osteoporosis most often occurs after menopause when the ovaries stop producing estrogen.

Animal studies as well as double-blind, placebo-controlled trials in humans suggest that genistein can help restore bone protection.

For example, in a 24 month double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 389 postmenopausal women with mild bone loss, use of genistein at a dose of 54 mg daily significantly improved bone density, as compared to placebo. (All participants were additionally given calcium and vitamin D.)

In a previous 12-month study, 90 women aged 47 to 57 were given genistein, standard hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or placebo.


The results showed that genistein supplementation increased bone density to approximately the same extent as HRT. No adverse effects on the uterus or breast were seen.


Interestingly, unlike estrogen, which primarily helps prevent the destruction of bone, evidence suggests that genistein may also assist in creating new bone.


Menopausal Symptoms



A double-blind study of 247 women suffering from menopausal hot flashes compared the effects of placebo and genistein supplements over a period of one year.  Genistein was taken at a dose of 54 mg per day.


The results indicated that use of genistein significantly reduced hot flashes as compared to placebo. No adverse effects were seen.





Genistein may help reduce risk of various forms of cancer . In one study, newborn female rats treated with genistein had less breast cancer later in life than those treated with placebo.

In the test tube study, genistein has been found to suppress the growth of a wide range of cancer cells, including forms of cancer that are not affected by estrogen.

For example, genistein has been found to inhibit skin cancer when it was applied to the skin of mice or fed to rats.

And again in test tube studies, genistein has been found to enhance the effects of chemotherapy drugs .


Heart Disease



One double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that use of genistein helped relax the artery wall (the endothelium), an effect that would be expected to help prevent heart disease.

In addition, test tube studies suggest that genistein may help keep cholesterol in the blood from depositing in blood vessel walls.

Finally, very early test tube research suggests genistein may also inhibit the formation of blood clots, which are a major cause of heart attacks .


Sources of Genistein



Genistein foods include soybeans and soy products like tofu and textured vegetable protein. Other legumes, such as chickpeas, also contain small amounts of genistein.


Genistein Foods


Food Serving Total Isoflavones (mg) Daidzein (mg) Genistein (mg) Glycitein (mg)
Soy protein concentrate, aqueous washed 3.5 oz 94.6 38.2 52.8 4.9
Soy protein concentrate, alcohol washed 3.5 oz 11.5 5.8 5.3 1.5
Miso ½ cup 57 22.6 32 4.1
Soybeans, mature seeds, boiled ½ cup 56 26.5 26.9 3.2
Tempeh 3 ounces 51.5 19.3 30.7 3.2
Tempeh, cooked 3 ounces 30.3 11.1 18 1.2
Soybeans, dry roasted 1 ounce 41.6 17.4 21.2 3.7
Soy milk, low-fat 1 cup 6.2 2.4 3.7 0.1
Tofu yogurt ½ cup 21.3 7.5 12.3 1.6
Tofu, soft 3 ounces 19.2 8.1 10.1 1.4
Soybeans, green, boiled (Edamame) ½ cup 16.1 6.7 6.3 4.1
Meatless (soy) burger, unprepared 1 patty 4.5 1.6 3.5 0.4
Meatless (soy) sausage 3 links 10.8 3.3 6.9 1.7
Soy cheese, cheddar 1 oz 1.9 0.5 0.6 0.8
*Isoflavone content of soy foods can vary considerably between brands and between different lots of the same brand (147); therefore, these values should be viewed only as a guide.


Genistein Supplements

Recently, genistein has also been available as a dietary supplement.

Example: Vital Nutrients Genistein (60 125 mg capsules) has excellent reviews.


Genistein Safety

Soy isoflavones have been consumed by humans as part of soy-based diets for many years without any evidence of adverse effects.

The 75th percentile of dietary isoflavone intake has been reported to be as high as 65 mg/day in some Asian populations.

Although diets rich in soy or soy-containing products appear safe and potentially beneficial, the long-term safety of very high supplemental doses of soy isoflavones is not yet known.

One study in older men and women found that 100 mg/day of soy isoflavones for six months was well tolerated.


Final Thoughts

Genistein is an isoflavone compound with numerous important benefits.  It is proven to be well tolerated, and will continue to be studied as a potentially powerful ally against many ailments and diseases. 

Check with your doctor before taking Genistein (or any supplement) if you have concerns.

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