Phytoestrogen content of cereals and cereal-based foods consumed in the UK

Nutr Cancer. 2009;61(3):302-9. doi: 10.1080/01635580802567141.


Dietary phytoestrogens may be involved in the occurrence of chronic diseases. Reliable information on the phytoestrogen content in foods is required to assess dietary exposure and disease risk in epidemiological studies. However, there is little information on isoflavone, lignan, and coumestrol content of cereals and cereal-based foods, leading to an underestimation of intake. This is the first study of phytoestrogens (isoflavones: biochanin A, daidzein, formononetin, genistein, glycitein; lignans: matairesinol, secoisplariciresinol; coumestrol) in a comprehensive selection of 101 cereals and cereal-based foods-including breads, breakfast cereals, biscuits, pasta and rice-consumed in the UK using a sensitive LCMS technique with 13C-labelled internal standards. Phytoestrogens were detected in all foods analyzed; bread contained the highest amount of phytoestrogens-many as isoflavones-with an average content of 375 +/- 67 microg/100 g wet weight (excluding soya-linseed bread with 12,000 microg/100 g). Most other foods contained less than 100 microg/100 g, many as lignans. Our study shows that all foods analyzed contained phytoestrogens, with the highest amount found in breads, making them one of the main sources of dietary phytoestrogens in the UK. These results will allow a more accurate estimation of exposure to dietary phytoestrogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Edible Grain / chemistry*
  • Food Analysis*
  • Genistein / analysis
  • Isoflavones / analysis
  • Phytoestrogens / analysis*


  • Isoflavones
  • Phytoestrogens
  • daidzein
  • Genistein