Flax Seed Vs Sunflower Seed
In a double-blind, cross-over study published in the journal, Nutritional Research, in 1998, researchers compared the effects of flaxseed and sunflower seed on cholesterol levels in a group of post-menopausal women.
Thirty-eight such women with hypercholesterolemia were recruited for this study. For the first 6 weeks of the study, each of the women was given muffins and bread prepared with 38 g of either flaxseed or sunflower seed.
A 2-week washout period was allowed before each of the women was switched from flaxseed to sunflower seed or vice versa for another 6 weeks.
The results of the study also showed that only flaxseed significantly lowered LDL cholesterol while neither seeds significantly raised HDL cholesterol.
Types Of Healthy Fat In Oils
Incorporating a variety of different oils in your diet can help to provide an array of different micronutrients.
Monounsaturated fats contain a single unsaturated carbon bond in the molecule. A good source of vitamin E, monounsaturated fats are found only in plants. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends MUFAs make up 15% to 20% of total daily calories.
Polyunsaturated fats have more than one unsaturated carbon bond in the molecule and are found in plants and fish such as salmon. PUFAs also contain vitamin E and high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acidsnutrients essential for brain function and cell growth.
Some oils are high in omega-3 fatty acidshealthy fats that help to reduce inflammation and prevent the formation of arterial plaque. Avocado, canola, flaxseed, olive, peanut, sunflower, and walnut oils are all good sources of omega-3.
Study Identification And Selection
Two researchers independently searched PubMed , the Cochrane Library , clinicaltrials.gov , the World Health Organization ICTRP , and the ProQuest Digital Dissertations Database for English-language reports of clinical trials published from January 1990 to October 2008 and studies describing the effects of flaxseed or its derivatives in adult humans were selected. The key words flax* OR linseed* OR lignan* OR Linum usitatissimum, with the constraints noted above, were used in the literature search. Bibliographies of selected studies and relevant reviews were checked to ensure a complete collection. Attempts were also made to contact investigators for unpublished data. Studies were chosen for analysis if they met the following criteria: 1) the subjects consumed flaxseed or its derivatives for > 2 wk 2) the study was an RCT with either a parallel or crossover design 3) the study reported the dose of flaxseed, lignans, or ALA when whole or ground flaxseed, lignan supplement, or flaxseed oil were administered, respectively 4) the effects of flaxseed or its derivatives on lipid profiles could be extracted from the report and 5) the control regimen did not contain phytoestrogens, ALA, fish oil, or hormone replacements. According to these criteria, a total of 30 citations were identified .
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Maintaining Healthy Triglyceride Levels
Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests that in addition to weight loss, cutting back on sugars, especially fructose, alcohol and saturated and trans fats helps achieve healthy triglyceride levels. The same source notes that increasing dietary fiber, exercising regularly and consuming omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and fish oil also help ensure triglyceride levels are within a healthy range.
Why Do People Take Flaxseed
Flaxseed and flaxseed oil contain alpha-linolenic acid , one of the essential omega-3 fatty acids that partly and inefficiently converts into DHA and EPA — more active omega-3s — in the body. While flaxseed hasn’t yet been shown to improve heart disease risk, there’s good evidence that flaxseed and flaxseed oil may lower cholesterol levels.
Ground flaxseed — but not flaxseed oil — may also help with menopausal symptoms. One study showed that 40 grams per day may be similar to hormone therapy for improving mild menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats. But other studies contradict this finding. Ground flaxseed may also ease constipation.
Flaxseed has also been shown in some research to improve kidney function in people with lupus. If you have lupus — or any other medical condition — it’s very important to talk with your doctor about any supplements you take.
Flaxseed is being studied for many other conditions, ranging from cancer to diabetes to osteoporosis. At this point, there is not enough evidence to support flaxseed for these conditions.
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Flaxseed Oil And Cholesterol Does It Really Help
In this article, I wanted to examine if flaxseed oil could help with cholesterol control. Most people these days will have a pretty good understanding of what cholesterol is, and more importantly, understand that it needs to be controlled. For those that dont here is a brief summary of what it is and the elements that can contribute to high cholesterol levels.
In the USA today the levels of this are higher than in any other industrial nation, and this is especially true for American children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 10 children has an elevated cholesterol level.
Their research can be read here by clicking on this link Cholesterol Levels In The USA
The Cardiovascular Benefits Of Flax Seed
A group of researchers investigated the benefits of flaxseed lignan extract for reducing serum cholesterol and preventing blockage of arteries by fatty deposits in rabbits. This study was published in the journal, Circulation, in 1999.
The results of the study showed that the lignan extract of flaxseed can reduce total serum cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol levels. In addition, this flax extract increased HDL cholesterol and provided antioxidant protection to inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
The combination of these effects reduced atherosclerosis by 73%.
This study proved that the lignan fraction of flaxseed can improve cardiovascular health by improving lipid profile and by its antioxidant effect.
An earlier study also confirmed this cardiovascular benefit of flaxseed in rabbits. This study was published in the journal, Atherosclerosis, in 1997.
This study linked the cardiovascular benefit of flaxseed with its omega-3 fatty acid and lignan content.
The researchers identified that flaxseed omega-3 fatty acids can inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1, leukotriene B4 and tumor necrosis factor. Furthermore, the lignans in flaxseed can improve cardiovascular health by their anti-platelet and antioxidant properties.
This study indicates that flaxseed supplementation can help prevent heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases caused by high cholesterol levels.
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The Bottom Line On Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseed oil will give your diet a nice little omega-3 boost in the form of alpha-linolenic acid. You might try adding flaxseed oil to your salad dressing. But flaxseed oils a backup, not a substitute, for the omega-3s in fish and fish oil because of the conversion factor. If you’re in need of omega-3s but are concerned about mercury, salmon, pollock, and catfish are all low in mercury. And canned light tuna tends to be lower in mercury than albacore tuna.
Eat More Plant Sources Of Protein
Excellent plant proteins include beans all beans, like lentils, red beans, pinto beans, and soybeans. Rather than raising blood cholesterol levels, as animal sources of protein do, beans actually help lower cholesterol.
Beans also help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, and may even lower cancer risk.
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Benefits Of Different Flax Seed Extracts
A 2008 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition investigated the effects of the lignan extract of flaxseed on plasma cholesterol and glucose.
For this study, 55 participants suffering from hypercholesterolemia were recruited. They were randomly given one of placebo, 300 mg or 600 mg dietary flaxseed lignan extract for 8 weeks.
The results of the study showed that both doses of lignan extract reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels. Those receiving the 600 mg dose experienced the cholesterol-lowering benefits of flaxseed lignan as early as week 6. In addition, the higher dose reduced total and LDL cholesterols by over 20%.
Lastly, the results also showed that only the higher dose of lignan extract lowered plasma glucose levels.
This study confirms that the lignan in flaxseed contributes significantly to its cholesterol-lowering property. In addition, flaxseed lignan can also be used to improve blood sugar control at high doses.
A 2006 study published in the journal, Life Sciences, investigated the benefits of an extract of flaxseed rich in alpha-linolenic acid for lowering cholesterol levels.
The researchers gave a group of rats fed with high-fat diets this extract of flaxseed. The result showed that flaxseed ALA can reduce weight gain due to the fatty diet and also lower LDL cholesterol and VLDL cholesterol as well as total plasma cholesterol and free fatty acids.
The study also showed that ALA lowers cholesterol by speeding up lipid metabolism in the liver.
How Much Should You Take
There is no set dose of flaxseed. In studies of people with high cholesterol, 15 to 50 grams of flaxseed per day has been used.
Flaxseed must be ground prior to ingestion or it wont work for these conditions.
Ask your GP for advice. Flaxseed can be mixed with liquid or food, such as muffins or bread.
To be absorbed, however, it must me ground before using it to allow the oils to be available.
Some people use a small coffee grinder to grind daily doses as needed.
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May Help Treat Constipation And Diarrhea
Flaxseed oil may be effective at treating both constipation and diarrhea.
A recent animal study showed that flaxseed oil acted as a laxative to promote regularity, all while acting as an antidiarrheal agent .
Another study gave 50 constipated patients on hemodialysis either flaxseed oil, olive oil or mineral oil.
After four weeks, flaxseed oil increased the frequency of bowel movements and improved stool consistency. Also, it was found to be as effective as both olive oil and mineral oil .
However, research on the effects of flaxseed oil on constipation and diarrhea is currently limited to animal studies and studies on people with specific conditions.
Additional studies are needed to evaluate its effectiveness in the general population.
Summary: Some animal and human studies have shown that flaxseed oil may help treat both constipation and diarrhea, but further research is required.
What Are The Risks Of Taking Flaxseed
- Side effects. At normal doses, flaxseed and flaxseed oil seem to be safe. Flaxseed — and not flaxseed oil — contains soluble fiber. It might cause diarrhea, cramping, gas, and bloating. High doses of flaxseed, especially when not taken with enough water, can cause constipation and, rarely, bowel obstruction. If ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil oxidizes , it may cause cholesterol problems and inflammation.
- Interactions. If you take any medicines or other supplements regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using flaxseed. Flaxseed may block the normal absorption of medicines. Always take medicines at least one hour before or two hours after using flaxseed. Flaxseed and flaxseed oil may also interact with drugs like blood thinners, NSAID painkillers, hormone treatments, and some medicines for blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. Use caution when taking flaxseed or flaxseed oil with other supplements.
- Risks. Never eat raw or unripe flaxseed — it could be poisonous. People who have diabetes, bipolar disorder, high triglycerides, bleeding disorders, or prostate cancer should talk to a doctor before using flaxseed or flaxseed oil. Anyone with digestive problems and women with hormone-sensitive diseases should not use flaxseedÃ unless instructedÃ by their doctor.
Given the lack of evidence about its safety, flaxseed and flaxseed oil is not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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Flaxseed And Flaxseed Oil In The Management Of Hypercholesterolemia
Part I Of A Series On Flaxseed
The popularity of flaxseed stems from the fact that it contains three important constituents that have been implicated in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases ranging from cardiovascular disease to cancer prevention and inflammatory disorders.
The best evidence to date suggests that flaxseed products improve cardiovascular risk factors primarily by modestly improving lipid profiles. Flaxseeds anti-arrhythmic, antiplatelet, antioxidant, and hypoglycemic potential will be covered in a separate article.
What Creates High Cholesterol Levels
It is as we mentioned earlier a waxy substance that your body needs. The problem comes though when we have too much of it in our bodies. What happens then is that this wax-like substance attaches itself to the walls of our arteries. This, in turn, can impede the natural flow of blood through our veins.
When that happens it can lead to serious medical conditions such as strokes and heart attacks. That is why it is so important to have your cholesterol level checked regularly.
Generally speaking a poor diet and overeating are the two main causes of high levels. This behavior leads to high blood pressure and also puts tremendous pressure on the heart and the cardiovascular system generally.
The video below from the Cleveland Clinic shows Cardiologist Michael Rocco MD explains why cholesterol is a good thing, and also what happens when we have too much in our bodies.
So you can see what we eat has a lot to do with the levels we will have in our bodies. In fact, the liver produces the most cholesterol in our body at around 75%, whereas what we eat impacts the cholesterol level at around the remaining 25%.
So, in summary, we want to have cholesterol in our bodies but we want to keep that at a level where it does what it is supposed to do. We never want to allow it to get to the stage though where it may partially start to build up or block the artery walls.
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Can Whole Ground Flaxseed Raise Triglycerides
Flaxseeds are a source of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid — or ALA — which may reduce your heart disease risks, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Lowering triglyceride levels often decreases heart disease risks. However, although whole ground flaxseeds do contain ALA, they surprisingly dont reduce triglycerides and might even raise them.
Data Extraction And Quality Assessment
Study characteristics and blood lipid data were extracted independently by 2 assessors and tabulated for analysis. Likewise, study quality was independently assessed by using the Jadad score level-of-evidence rating for RCTs . The score included randomization, blinding, description of withdrawals and dropouts, methods of randomization, and double-blinding status. The total score was the sum of the 5 points, which generated a scale from 0 to 5 higher numbers represented better quality. Other aspects, such as funding source and geographic locations of the studies, were also indicated.
For continuous outcomes in parallel studies, the means and SDs of changes from baseline to endpoint were extracted. In crossover studies, the means and SDs were used separately on interventions and controls. This step provided a conservative estimate of the effects and reduced the power of the crossover studies to show real influences of the interventions. For all data, SDs were calculated from SEs or CIs, whenever it was necessary, and the data were also estimated from the figures if no numerical forms were presented. For those with missing SDs for the changes, the average of the SDs of the initial and endpoint of relevant biomarkers was adapted in the analysis . In addition, the change-from-baseline SDs were also imputed by using correlation coefficient methods referenced in the Cochrane Handbook .
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Focus On Fruits Vegetables Whole Grains And Beans
Our typical American diet is now abbreviated as SAD by scientists nationwide because its full of foods that do sad things to both hearts and waistlines. Hyperprocessed foods like potato chips and French fries. Sugar-saturated drinks. And fatty, artery-clogging meats and full-fat dairy foods like cheese.
We dont have to become complete vegetarians to get our cholesterol levels into healthy ranges, studies on the Pritikin Program have found, but clearly, the more vegetables, fruits, potatoes, and other naturally-fiber-rich plant foods we eat, the healthier well be.
Plant foods high in soluble fiber are especially beneficial in lowering total and LDL bad cholesterol levels. Good sources include beans , yams, oats , barley, and berries.
For simple tips on bringing more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans into your life, here is a 5-day sample healthy meal plan from the doctors and dietitians at Pritikin Longevity Center.
How Much Flax Seed Do You Need
Generally speaking, 1-2 tablespoons of ground or milled flax seed per day is safe for most adults. Ground flax seeds are recommended over flax seed oil.
2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds contain 80 calories, 0.5g saturated fat, 3.5g PUFA, 1g MUFA, and 4g fiber.
If you don’t like fish, but want to boost your intake of omega-3 fats, flax seed can be a valuable addition to your diet, to help decrease your risk of heart disease.
A few quick serving ideas:
Sprinkle ground flax seeds on hot or cold cereal, or natural yogurt.
Add them to breakfast shakes or smoothies.
Sprinkle them onto cooked vegetables, or add them to a salad.
Use ground flax seeds as a substitute for eggs in baked recipes.
Flax seed oil can be used as the base of homemade salad dressings.
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Eating Well + Exercise
For best results with a healthy lifestyle, new research has found that plunging right in with both healthy eating and exercising is the way to go.3
The Stanford University School of Medicine study involved 200 middle-aged Americans, all sedentary and with poor eating habits. Some were told to launch new food and fitness habits at the same time. Others began dieting but waited several months before beginning to exercise. A third group started exercising but didnt change eating habits till several months later.
All the groups received telephone coaching and were followed for one year. The winning group was the one making food and exercise changes together. The people in this group were most likely to meet U.S. guidelines for exercise and healthy eating , and to keep calories from saturated fat at less than 10% of their total intake of calories.
For best results with a healthy lifestyle, new research has found that plunging right in with both healthy eating and exercising is the way to go.3