What’s the new soy on the block?: Looks like flax.

January 1, 1996 Human Health and Nutrition Data 0 Comments

What’s the new soy on the block?: Looks like flax.

Year: 1996
Authors: S Jeffrey.
Publication Name: Food in Canada.
Publication Details: Page 15.


This article on the nutritional benefits of flaxseed oil and flaxseed appears in a popular magazine geared towards the food and restaurant industries. The author introduces flaxseed as a newly discovered source of protein, soluble fiber, EFAs and lignans and claims that Western science is supporting the traditional use of flaxseed in a healthy diet. Canada is the world’s largest producer of flaxseed, producing over one million tons per year. Unlike in Europe where flaxseed is popular in breads and cereals, North America has commonly used flaxseed for non-edible purposes. However, with growing evidence of the significance of ALA, soluble fiber and lignans in the prevention of coronary heart disease, cancer, renal disease and inflammatory conditions, flaxseed and flaxseed oil are growing in popularity and are becoming more common in mainstream grocery stores. The author reviews research by Thompson’s group at the University of Toronto which has clearly demonstrated the anti-carcinogenic effects of flaxseed lignans. Screening of 68 foods by these investigators identified flaxseed as containing the highest levels of the active lignans, SD and MR. Thompson refers to studies in her laboratory which have shown that both ALA and lignans reduced cell proliferation and nucleic aberration, early markers of mammary and colon cancer induced in rats by chemical carcinogens. SD treatment also prevented the growth of established tumors and the development of new tumors. Research in humans is currently underway (for a review of these studies, refer to Section on “Lignans” in this Bibliography). Flaxseed contains 22 – 24% ALA, is a complete source of protein and contains the soluble fiber called mucilage. Flaxseed has been found to reduce serum cholesterol levels by 6 – 9%, effects attributable to both the ALA and mucilage content of the seed. Safety studies with flaxseed in amounts of up to 50 g/day have indicated it to be a safe addition to the diet. ALA, a highly polyunsaturated FA has been shown not to increase serum peroxide levels or reduce protective antioxidants. The author suggests incorporating flaxseed into breads, muffins, pancakes or tossed into soups and salads. The seeds are crunchy and add a nutty flavor to foods. Flaxseed oil in bottled form and as supplements is now readily available to the consumer.

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