Health effects of flaxseed mucilage, lignans.

January 1, 1997 Human Health and Nutrition Data 0 Comments

Health effects of flaxseed mucilage, lignans.

Year: 1997
Authors: S E Rickard.
Publication Name: INFORM.
Publication Details: Volume 8; Number 8; 860.


The use of flaxseed and flaxseed oil as potential nutraceuticals is growing due to evidence of beneficial effects in reducing cancer, the risk factors for CHD and diabetes, inflammatory disease such as lupus nephritis and renal function and anti-malarial activity. flaxseed is the richest dietary plant source of ALA. Flaxseed oil has been shown to modulate immune responses, to have anticarcinogenic effects, to improve renal function and to inhibit platelet aggregation, effects that have been attributed to ALA. Flaxseed is also the richest source of lignans, and contains high amounts of the soluble fiber, mucilage. These constituents of flaxseed are the focus of this review paper. Flaxseed mucilage represents 23% of the seed and is found in the seed coat. The author reviews the composition and properties of mucilage in this paper. Regarding health effects, flaxseed mucilage has been found to improve blood glucose responses and to reduce serum cholesterol levels in animals and healthy humans, and patients with various diseases including hyperlipidemia and lupus nephritis. The dietary fiber content of flaxseed, which includes mucilage, has also been reported to improve laxation. The metabolic and biological effects of flaxseed lignans are described. Flaxseed lignans are the precursors for mammalian lignans including SDG, ED and EL which are produced by the action of colonic bacteria. These mammalian lignans are able to bind to estrogen receptors and thus have weak estrogenic and antiestrogenic properties. The reported antiestrogenic effects of flaxseed lignans include growth inhibition of estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cell lines; inhibition of estradiol-stimulated RNA synthesis in animal uterus and inhibition of the aromatase enzyme involved in testosterone and estrogen synthesis. The majority of research on flaxseed has focused on the anticarcinogenic effects of lignans. Flaxseed supplementation has been shown to lower early neoplastic indices in the colon and mammary glands of animals. Significant reductions in mammary tumor size and number have been found following flaxseed feeding. Flaxseed and SDG have been shown to decrease colon cancer risk markers such as the size and multiplicity of aberrant crypt foci in carcinogenic treated rats. Flaxseed feeding has been shown to inhibit the activity of platelet-activating factor (PAF) thereby reducing the ability of platelets to aggregate. The author indicates that the nutritional effects of mucilage and lignan components of flaxseed suggest a role for these compounds in nutraceutical products aimed at preventing and treating disease.

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