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May 31, 2019 Diet & Nutrition Samantha Mainland 674 views

Flaxseed isn’t something to scoff at.

There are over eleven hundred human studies on flaxseed, and over fifty-three hundred studies in general on flaxseed.

Flaxseed is a substance of interest, and I’m certainly finding it an interesting topic.

Flaxseed is an inexpensive, vegan option for good fats, but what is it good for exactly?

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

A small 2018 study[1] of 60 women with PCOS has found that 1,000mg of flaxseed taken twice daily for 12 weeks, significantly reduces your fasting insulin levels, the homeostasis model of assessment (insulin resistance) and the quantitative insulin sensitivity check index. This same study also showed a statistically significant triglyceride and VLDL cholesterol reduction, as well as a statistically significant reduction in hs-CRP – an inflammation marker.

Metabolic syndrome?

A 2016 study[2] examined people with metabolic syndrome. It compared 30g of milled flaxseed with lifestyle advice, to lifestyle advice alone, over a 12-week period. Over that 12-week period those on the flaxseed and lifestyle advice lost on average 9kg (compared to the 3kg loss in the group with the lifestyle advice only), waist circumference reduced considerably and again the insulin and triglyceride markers reduction was statistically significant. This not only confirms the insulin and triglyceride benefits but suggests a significant benefit for weight loss from 30g of milled flaxseed daily for 12-weeks.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

A research team studied the effect of 30g of milled flaxseed in those with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease[3]. Two groups were followed with both groups receiving lifestyle advice, and only one group receiving 30g of milled flaxseed daily. At the end of the 12 weeks, the group that received the milled flaxseed had, on average, had a significantly greater reduction in the fibrosis score than those that received the lifestyle advice only. Further to this, there was a statistically significant improvement in the serum liver enzymes in the flaxseed group, when comparing the pre-treatment levels to the end of treatment levels. ALT, AST and GGT all reduced considerably. And again, so did insulin, and triglycerides.

Overweight or obese?

A study from this year[4] has examined how lifestyle advice with or without 30g of milled flaxseed daily affects certain markers within overweight or obese people. After 12 weeks the subjects with the milled flaxseed lost on average 6kg more than those on the lifestyle advice only, they also greatly reduced their total cholesterol, and significantly reduced their hs-CRP markers – an inflammatory marker. This suggests that milled flaxseed with lifestyle modification is significantly superior to lifestyle modification alone for weight loss.

High blood pressure?

A team of researchers have collaborated and examined all the papers investigating the benefits of flaxseed for blood pressure[5]. After removing the flimsy studies and after careful examination, they have concluded that not only is flaxseed beneficial for elevated blood pressure, but there was a greater effect on the systolic and diastolic measures when the flaxseed was taken for 12+ weeks. Further to this, they identified that systolic blood pressure responded better to flaxseed powder and diastolic blood pressure responded better to flaxseed powder and flaxseed oil.

Insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes?

A team of researchers have collaborated and examined all the papers investigating the benefits of flaxseed for insulin sensitivity and insulin resistance[6]. Twenty-five quality studies were collaborated, and have found that whole flaxseed, not flaxseed oil, produced a statistically significant benefit in insulin levels, insulin resistance and insulin sensitivity when it was used for 12 or more weeks.

Hot flushes?

A 2012 study[7] examined the potential benefits of flaxseed extract and flaxseed meal in postmenopausal women. After 6 months of taking a 500mg flaxseed capsule twice daily, there was a statistically significant reduction of about 25% in hot flush intensity. Additionally, those who took the ground whole flaxseed (two tablespoons per day) showed about a 20% reduction in hot flush intensity (compared to the control group, who had a 3% improvement).

Mildly elevated cholesterol?

Consumption of 40g of ground flaxseed daily for 3 months by postmenopausal women showed significantly, albeit not statistically significant, reduction in both total and non-HDL cholesterol concentrations[8]. Further to this serum LDL, triglyceride cholesterol, APO A-1 and APO B markers were also significantly reduced, albeit not statistically significant.

A tablespoon or two of milled/ground flaxseed per day has many benefits. Are you going to reap the benefits?

Yes, it’s the same stuff that some people use to polish their furniture.

[1] Mirmasoumi, G., et al. (2018). “The Effects of Flaxseed Oil Omega-3 Fatty Acids Supplementation on Metabolic Status of Patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes 126(4): 222-228.

[2] Yari, Z., et al. (2016). “Flaxseed Supplementation in Metabolic Syndrome Management: A Pilot Randomized, Open-labeled, Controlled Study.” Phytother Res 30(8): 1339-1344.

[3] Yari, Z., et al. (2016). “Flaxseed supplementation in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: a pilot randomized, open labeled, controlled study.” Int J Food Sci Nutr 67(4): 461-469.

[4] Yari, Z., et al. (2019). “Flaxseed Supplementation Improves Anthropometric measurements, Metabolic, and Inflammatory Biomarkers in Overweight and Obese Adults.” Int J Vitam Nutr Res: 1-8.

[5] Ursoniu, S., et al. (2016). “Effects of flaxseed supplements on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled clinical trial.” Clin Nutr 35(3): 615-625.

[6] Mohammadi-Sartang, M., et al. (2018). “Flaxseed supplementation on glucose control and insulin sensitivity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 25 randomized, placebo-controlled trials.” Nutr Rev 76(2): 125-139.

[7] Colli, M. C., et al. (2012). “Evaluation of the efficacy of flaxseed meal and flaxseed extract in reducing menopausal symptoms.” J Med Food 15(9): 840-845.

[8] Lucas, E. A., et al. (2002). “Flaxseed improves lipid profile without altering biomarkers of bone metabolism in postmenopausal women.” J Clin Endocrinol Metab 87(4): 1527-1532.

About The Author - Samantha Mainland

Samantha is a highly educated Naturopath having graduated from both Southern Cross University with a Bachelor of Naturopathy, and University of Tasmania with a Bachelor of Medicine Management with Professional Honours in Complementary Medicine.

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