BACKGROUND: Isoflavones and coumestrol from dietary legumes are plant constituents showing multiple beneficial effects on humans. Owing to their ability to bind with mammalian estrogenic receptors and thereby intervention in several kinds of hormone-related cancers, they have received much attention. Soybean (Glycine max) is currently the major source of isoflavonoids in human diet. However, dozens of tropical and subtropical leguminous species remain unexplored for their isoflavonoids content.
RESULTS: We have analyzed 55 extracts from 41 tropical and subtropical legume species used either in human or animal diet by high-performance liquid chromatography for the content of soy isoflavones, biochanin A, daidzein, daidzin, formononetin, genistein, genistin, sissotrin, ononin and the coumestan coumestrol. Genistein and biochanin A were the most abundant compounds. The highest content of genistein was found in aerial parts of Andira macrothyrsa, seeds of Pachyrhizus tuberosus and aerial parts of Calopogonium mucunoides (598, 250 and 184 µg g−1, respectively) and biochanin A in aerial parts of Cratylia argentea, C. mucunoides and flowers of A. macrothyrsa (76, 53 and 40 µg g−1, respectively).
CONCLUSION: None of the samples tested was richer overall source of soy isoflavones and coumestrol than soybean; nevertheless several species (C. mucunoides or A. macrothyrsa) may serve as a promising source of individual compounds. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry