Flaxseed may help to reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood of postmenopausal women, researchers from Oklahoma State University report.
Overall, total cholesterol fell in the women by an average of 6%. While LDL cholesterol fell, so did HDL ("good") cholesterol, resulting in only a minor reduction in the ratio of "bad" to "good" cholesterol.
Flaxseed is a whole grain that can be found in health food stores and some supermarkets (click on my Featured Food this month). It can be sprinkled on food, or is sometimes used in baked goods, such as muffins or bread. Flaxseed is rich in lignans, a group of plant estrogens. These plant-based compounds are associated with lower levels of total cholesterol and LDL ("bad") cholesterol, possibly due to their fiber and omega-3 fatty acid content.
In the study, women consumed 40 grams of either ground flaxseed or wheat daily for 3 months. All 36 women who completed the study took a supplement containing 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 400 international units of vitamin D, which helps the body to absorb calcium.
Apolipoprotein B (apo B), a cholesterol-carrying molecule that may be a more sensitive indicator of heart disease risk than cholesterol alone, fell by nearly 8% among women who consumed flaxseed.
There was no reduction in cholesterol among women who took the wheat supplement, and neither the flaxseed nor the wheat had any affect on bone metabolism.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.