Adding whole ground flaxseed to your diet, but not flaxseed oil, may help lower your cholesterol levels, suggest the combined results of multiple studies.
Flaxseed is seen as a heart-healthy food as it contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and fibre..
However, individual studies on flaxseed's impact on blood cholesterol levels have yielded mixed results.
Researchers from Shanghai pooled the results from 28 studies involving more than 1,500 men and women to try to clarify the impact whole flaxseed and its derivatives have on cholesterol levels. Average whole flaxseed or flaxseed oil intake was about one tablespoon daily.
The findings, reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, link whole flaxseed with reductions in total cholesterol and "bad" LDL cholesterol.
Total and LDL cholesterol reductions with whole flaxseed intake were stronger in women, particularly postmenopausal women, than men, and in people with higher cholesterol concentrations at the outset, the researchers note.
The research group also noted declines in total and LDL cholesterol, but not HDL cholesterol or triglycerides, associated with taking supplements of flaxseed lignans (about 430 milligrams on average), but no reductions associated with flaxseed oil supplements.
The investigators suggest, based on their findings, that eating whole ground flaxseed may be a "worthwhile dietary approach" for preventing high cholesterol.
For more ideas on how to enjoy flaxseed, check out our September 2002 Featured Food.
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