Isoflavones are plant derived type of polyphenol which are found in soybeans, fava beans, chickpeas, legumes, peanuts and pistachios and present in many other fruits and nuts. But they are present in rich amount in bean family, e.g. soybeans and fava beans. Even though isoflavones are related to phytoestrogens and prepared as dietary supplements. Research shows that specific amount intake of isoflavones may reduce the risk of many diseases including cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.
- Molecular formula: C15H10O2
- Molar mass: 222.24 g/mol
- Melting point: 315-320 °C
- Boiling point: 367 °C
There is some difference in the structural composition of isoflavones, while most flavonoids have B-ring attached to position 2 of C-ring, but they have B-ring attached to position 3 of C-ring. Even they are not steroids, but they have structural similarities to estrogens, specifically estradiol. We can say they have ability to bind estrogen receptors, this is the reason they are classified as phytoestrogens. Its binding with estrogen receptors seems to drop potency with time, so there potential efficiency should not be glorified.In foods isoflaones are present in four forms;
BRIEF DESCRIPTION AND NATURAL SOURCE
Isoflavones contains specific type of molecules (phytochemicals) found in foods that occurs naturally like legumes and herbs (red clover). Other sources include mung beans, chick beans, split peas, sunflower seed and walnut. They are well thought-out phytoestrogens, which means they are parallel in structure with the female hormone, (estrogen). They have also many anti-oxidant properties as well which reduces the damage due to oxygen in human body such as damage caused because of free radicals. They help fighting against the disease like breast cancer.
Consumptions of natural isoflavones foods and its supplements in under clinical research for its potential health benefits associated with lowering the rate of postmenopausal cancer and osteoporosis in women. Use of isoflavones dietary supplements may be associated with reduction of hot flashes in postmenopausal women. Isoflavones supplements are known for its benefits, they reduces the fatigue and overcome irritability. Its supplements are being sold out as an effective product for natural hormone replacement therapy (HRT). These supplements also reduce the total and low density (LDL) cholesterol in human. Red clover has also found to be a beneficial for cardiovascular disease, raising good (HDL) cholesterol.
The health benefits of isoflavones could not be counted; isoflavones consumption can optimize blood vessel health. Having foods containing isoflavones in diet may increase the body level of anti-oxidants and support cellular health.
USES IN MEDICAL APPLICATIONS
- Breast cancer: Having high diet of isoflavones rich food may reduce the risk of breast cancer later in life.
- Diarrhea: Their supplements are used to shorten the duration of ongoing diarrhea in infants however in adult it is not considered that much useful.
- High cholesterol: The soy rich natural foods are proved in clinical research beneficial for reducing the bad cholesterol levels, foods such as tofu and tempeh are likely have more efficient results. However the supplements are not that much effective
- Menopausal control: Isoflavones in foods and supplement form both are found effective for the symptoms of irritability, depression and hot flashes
- Osteoporosis: Clinically proved that food and isoflavones supplements both are beneficial for increasing the bone density.
Following are some other benefits associated with the use of isoflavones.
■ Help to protect from breast cancer, prostate cancer and uterine cancer.
■ Improve mental health
■ Reduces muscle and joints pain/soreness
■ Reduce high blood sugar levels
■ Reduces blood pressure
■ Reduces abdominal pain
SIDE EFFECTS AND PRECAUTIONS
Isoflavones has a lot of benefits however its consumption may cause some side effects and precautions to be taken.
Possibly it has some side effects;
A study shows that long term use of soy based supplements may cause abnormal tissue growth in the uterus.
Asthma patients may face risk of allergic reaction to soy.
The patients having stone in their kidney should avoid the use of soy isoflavones as they increase a chemical (Oxalates), which contribute to kidney stone.
Children should not use soy in large amount. It’s doubtful whether soy is safe for kids at high doses.