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.”
Animal studiesdouble-blind, placebo-controlled trials
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.
|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|
|Soybeans, mature seeds, boiled||½ cup||56||26.5||26.9||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.|
Recently, genistein has also been available as a dietary supplement.
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.
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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