A recently published review, completed by researchers from Frutarom and Wageningen University, the Netherlands, provides a greater understanding of how different phytoestrogens have unique profiles that determine their health effects(1). The study focuses on the particular mechanisms that cause phytoestrogens to act as either agonist or antagonist towards the receptors in the human body. The review also summarizes new findings on the dietary occurrence, bioavailability and metabolism of phytoestrogens.
Phytoestrogens primarily belong to the class of isoflavonoids and are plant-based compounds with estrogenic activity. They are a diverse group of naturally occurring nonsteroidal plant compounds that, because of their structural similarity with estradiol (17-β-estradiol), have the ability to cause estrogenic or/and antiestrogenic effects.
The most commonly known subclass of the isoflavonoids are isoflavones, of which soybeans are considered one of the most significant dietary sources.
“This ongoing collaboration with academia, especially with Wageningen University, creates a better understanding of the physiology and effects of phytonutrients, and more than that, is one of our core values,” explained Rudy Simons, Ph.D., co-author and R&D Manager at Frutarom. “We are committed to advancing the scientific understanding of phytoestrogens with Frutarom’s continued leadership in substantiating science-backed health ingredients.”
Based on their estrogenic activity and health benefits, phytoestrogens can be referred to as Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs). This is due to the observation that different phytoestrogens can have tissue-specific estrogenic activity. It is the SERM effect that could be responsible for the health benefits attributed to phytoestrogens, such as menopausal symptom relief as well as bone and breast health.
Frutarom’s applications lab has taken the research on soy one step further, incorporating the nutrient-dense SoyLife® into food items, in particular, nutrition bar, dessert and confection applications. This provides a healthy way to enrich and fortify foods, snacks and dessert items with more functionality and gives a further point of differentiation for a brand in the marketplace.
Frutarom uses a proprietary process to extract the soy bean (technically the soy germ, the most nutrient-dense part of the bean) resulting in a stable, light beige powder with a slightly roasted, pleasant nutty flavor that’s characteristic of grain. Encapsulation and beverage powders are options for this versatile ingredient as well. SoyLife® is an extensively-researched key offering from Frutarom providing a novel way to address multiple functional categories, an easy-to-incorporate low dose, along with a smooth texture and mild flavor that lends itself very well to food applications.
“Our continuing work with Wageningen University is another way Frutarom truly supports the science behind the ingredients we offer. After 12 years and hundreds of products released worldwide containing SoyLife, we’re pleased to continue research into a comprehensive understanding of the vast properties of soy: and hand-in-hand with the research comes the nutritional and cosmetic applications that customers have come to value,” adds Jeffrey Lind, Vice President, Frutarom Health Business Unit. —Frutarom Health, www.frutarom.com