Estrogenic Isoflavones in Clover Plants, Flower Nectar, Unripe Honeys and Mature Honeys: A Natural Biochemical Transformation of Isoflavones by Honeybees

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Abstract

This study is the first to report on the presence of oestrogenic compounds in different clover flower nectar samples, in bee-deposited nectars collected from hive combs (unripe honey) and in mature honeys harvested from the same hives. The clover species investigated were two red clover (Trifolium pratense) cultivars, bred specifically for high isoflavone content, alongside a sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) and a purple clover (T. purpureum) cultivar. A total of eight isoflavones, four of them non-glycosidic (biochanin A, formononetin, genistein and daidzein) the others glycosidic (sissotrin, ononin, genistin and daidzin), were targeted for identification and quantification in this study using high-performance thin-layer chromatography (HPTLC). Leaves and flower bracts of the clover samples were also investigated. Different isoflavone profiles were found across the four clover species and also in the different samples collected from each species indicating that, most likely due to the activity of honeybee (Apis mellifera) salivary enzymes, biochemical conversions take place when these bioactive compounds transition from flower nectar into ripe honey. Among the four investigated clover species, the two red clover cultivars, including their honeys, were found to contain higher levels of estrogenic compounds compared to other two cultivars.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1739
Number of pages15
JournalFoods
Volume13
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024

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