Lignan exposure: a worldwide perspective

Eur J Nutr. 2022 Apr;61(3):1143-1165. doi: 10.1007/s00394-021-02736-4. Epub 2021 Nov 20.


Dietary lignans are phytoestrogens that are mostly found in plant-based foods, especially whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes and vegetables. An accurate assessment of lignan exposure is crucial to evaluate their potential health benefits and to establish future recommendations and dietary guidelines. This narrative review aimed to (i) summarize the pros and the cons of the current main assessment methods for lignan exposure─i.e., dietary questionnaires, food composition tables and biomarkers, (ii) describe the individual lignans more consumed from a worldwide perspective, as well as their main food sources, (iii) determine the lignans concentrations in both urine and blood, and explore their heterogeneity among countries, and finally (iv) discuss the main determinants of lignan exposure.

Keywords: Biomarker; Enterolignan; Intake; Lignan; Plasma; Serum; Urine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet
  • Lignans*
  • Nuts / chemistry
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Vegetables


  • Lignans
  • Phytoestrogens