Background: Alfalfa and red clover are the most widespread and most important perennial
legumes, primarily used as a high-quality feed for livestock. Both alfalfa and red clover, as well as
some other plant species from Fabaceae family, are a rich natural source of phytoestrogens, nonsteroidal
compounds with an estrogenic activity whose beneficial effects in the prevention and treatment of
many diseases are demonstrated in numerous scientific studies.
Objectives: Nowadays, various herbal preparations are present on the world market and their use is
constantly increasing, as well as the growing demands of consumers for environmentally sound and
health-safe production of plant species used as sources of active substances. Because of their widespread
distribution, the possibility of organic breeding, and also significant increases in surface area
under genetically modified crops in most EU countries, alfalfa and red clover have become more interesting
alternative sources of phytoestrogens. The most common phytoestrogens in these forage legumes
are genistein, daidzein, glycitein, formononetin, biochanin, coumestrol, kaempferol and apigenin.
The content of these substances is significantly influenced by a number of factors including genotype,
environment, production technology, plant maturity stage, and individual plant parts.
Conclusion: Available evidence suggests that forage legumes represent high promising sources of
health-promoting phytoestrogens. Due to numerous favorable features, they can find commercial application
in different industries such as pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, cosmetic, and agriculture.