Whole ground flaxseed is readily available in most nutrition shops and online. Flaxseed is an inexpensive food product with many health benefits. We currently do not offer whole ground flaxseed. However, our flaxseed lignan product contains just the hulls of the flaxseed, where the nutrients reside. Our product contains 20 times more lignan than whole ground flaxseed.
Our flaxseed is a grain product grown here in the USA that has health benefits from the meat (embryo) of the flaxseed and additional health benefits from the hull of the flaxseed. Ground flax seed has both the meat and the hull ground together, making it one of the most nutrient rich food products on the planet. The embryo contains the oil, which has heart friendly omega 3 fatty acids and the hulls contain the lignans, which have been shown to reduce colon cancer and people with higher lignan intake have been reported to reduced reproductive related cancers.*
Flaxseed is a great source of fiber (lignans) and a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Ground flaxseed has been shown to lower cholesterol and has been indicated in other health benefits including heart health, breast health and prostate health. Flax may also help control blood sugar levels. Flax should be consumed with a large glass of water due to its fiber content.
Additional Health Benefits of Flaxseed
Flaxseed has also been shown to lower blood pressure. It has been reported to reduce the stickiness of platelets, which may reduce the risk of heart attack. The lignans found in the hull of the flaxseed have been shown to reduce breast cancer, prostate cancer and ovarian cancer. Ground flaxseed has been indicated in the reduction of colon cancer as well.
Flaxseed Lignans-What’s Their Story?
By Daniel Best
After heart disease, America’s second
most prolific killer is cancer.
Small wonder, therefore, that so
many consumers and scientists seek new,
natural, and benign sources of protection
against this dread disease condition.
This story isn’t about treating or preventing
cancer, however. It is about a new
category of powerful, natural compounds
that exhibit tremendous potential for
boosting peoples’ defenses against a
broad range of degenerative and debilitative
health conditions, including osteoporosis,
kidney disease, circulatory problems
and post-menopause hormonal fluctuations.
Whereas the results of the accumulated
research on lignans (note: as distinct
from lignins, a form of dietary fiber)
to date cannot be deemed conclusive,
results have been very, very intriguing.
What and Where?
Poll any number of consumers and natural
health aficionados today regarding
which nutraceutical captures most of their
attention, the answer would probably be
either “omega-3s,” “pre-biotics,” or “glucosamine.”
“Lignans” just haven’t climbed
that high on the recognition scale—yet.
These compounds are complex, they derive
from a variety of food sources, and there is
no clear understanding of how they work.
Lignans are complex polycyclic compounds
that exhibit strong phytoestrogenic
and, in many cases, strong antioxidant
activity. Phytoestrogens are plant-
derived compounds that weakly mimic
the action of estrogenic hormones (e.g.,
estrogen, testosterone). Phytoestrogens
recently have generated considerable
interest for their potential in blocking the
negative effects of estrogenic hormones
in aging humans—as an HRT (hormone
replacement therapy) alternative, for
example, or as a protective agent against
prostate cancer. Soy isoflavones, the subject
of so much nutraceutical attention of
late, are also phytoestrogens.
The range of products that
contain significant lignan activity
is broad: cereals, fruits, vegetables,
even wines (especially red wine). In
North America, the most concentrated
source of lignans is flaxseed, an oilseed,
where lignan is present primarily as SDG
(secoisolariciresinol diglycoside). “At
least three published works have documented
that the lignans in flaxseed were
between 75 and 800 times higher than
for other plant foods. Thus, flaxseed
should be considered a rich source,” said
North Dakota State University professor
Clifford Hall III, a flax specialist.
Scandinavian research has focused
more on lignans from spruce wood knots
(7-hydroxymetairesinol) or rye (both
SDG and metairesinol). Flaxseed contains
approximately 1,000 mg lignans per
100 g flaxseed (or 1.0 percent) by weight,
whereas rye, the richest grain-based
source of lignans, contains approximately
100 mg/100 g rye (0.1 percent) by
weight. The phytoestrogen content of rye
compares favorably with the isoflavone
phytoestrogen content in soy (0.05-0.4
percent). Concentrations of lignans can
vary within a seed: In flaxseed, for example,
lignans are found primarily in the
outer bran of the seed. (See table).
Though the bulk of research that demonstrates
protective effects from lignan consumption
has been conducted using animal
models, recent human studies on lignans
look promising. For example:
• During the 2000 San Antonio Breast
Cancer Symposium, Dr. Lilian Thompson
of the University of Toronto’s department
of nutritional sciences disclosed
that a limited study of post-menopausal
breast-cancer patients had discovered
that subjects fed 25 g per day of flaxseed
exhibited reduced rates of tumor development
and proliferation, at rates similar
to that which would have been expected
with tamoxifen treatments. No ill side
effects were reported. Flaxseed supplementation
was also found to reduce
symptoms of mastalgia (breast pain) in
• A 2001 study, published in the Journal
of Urology (Demark-Wahnefried, W.
et al, 58: pp. 47-52) observed that a
group of prostate cancer patients fed 30g
of flaxseed (on a low-fat diet) per day
exhibited reduced PSA scores and tumor-
• Epidemiological studies of women in
the San Francisco Bay area (see Horn-
Ross, P.L. et al, J. of Epidemiology, 151:
2002, 765-772 and J. of Natl. Cancer
Institute, 95(15): 2003, 1158-1164) correlated
the consumption of both lignan and
isoflavone phytoestrogens to reduced thyroid
and endometrial cancer risks.
• A review article by the University of
Saskatchewan’s Dr. Kailash Prasad (Drug
News Perspective, 13(2): 2000, 99-104)
concluded that flaxseed’s documented
total-cholesterol and LDL-lowering
effects are more likely attributable to its
SDG lignan content than to its omega-3s.
• A number of studies (see, for example,
Brzezinski, A. et al, Menopause, 4: 1997,
89-94) have linked the consumption of lignan
or soy isoflavone phytoestrogens to
reduced menopausal and post-menopausal
symptoms in women. However, more time and
research are needed.
Nutraceuticals document the potential for lignan consumption
to inhibit serum cholesterol synthesis and reduce the incidence of diabetes (Type I and II), atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and postmenopausal osteoporosis.
How do lignans work? A number of researchers, including Thompson and Joanne Slavin (University of Minnesota), have delineated the metabolic cascade whereby lignans are converted by intestinal bacteria into enterodiol and enterolactone, the phytoestrogenic form of (most) lignans. Consumption of high lignan foods correlates well with increased levels of enterodiol and enterolactone excretion.
“We have conducted studies looking at the estrogen metabolites
in women before and after feeding them flaxseed. In both pre- and post-menopausal women, flax consumption, either Flaxseed 5 or 10 g per day, increased the 2-hydroxy/16-alpha estrogen soy ratio, a protective biomarker for
breast cancer,” said Slavin.
Enterolactone, according to this line of investigation, dis-
places estrogen molecules on cellular estrogen receptors —replacing the stronger metabolic effects of estrogen with their own weak estrogenic activity, thereby attenuating
the damaging long-term effects of estrogen on tissue cells.
Other mechanisms have been postulated
whereby SDG, metairesinol or
enterolactone actually inhibit the
progress of carcinogenesis, supported by
both in-vitro and in-vivo animal studies.
Proposed mechanisms include the blockage
of estrogen synthesis through enzymatic
(e.g., aromatase) inhibition, the
down-regulation of insulin-like growth
factor I (IGF-1), and antioxidant activity.
The fact is, some lignans (like SDG
and metairesinol) are very powerful
antioxidants. A recent study, published in
the J. of Food Engineering (Niemeyer,
H.B. and M. Metzler, 56: 2003, pp.255256),
measured the antioxidant value of
SDG and matairesinol, enterodiol, and
enterolactone using the Ferric Reducing/
Antioxidant Power assay (FRAP)
and determined that these lignans had a
higher antioxidant activity than even
ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
Another study (Kangas Lauri et al.,
European J. of Cancer Prevention, 11:
2002, S48-57) determined that purified
hydroxy-matairesinol has a greater
antioxidant activity than either BHA or
BHT, the commonly utilized synthetic
food antioxidants. The antioxidant properties
of lignans also have great implications
for health and well-being —antioxidants
are powerful anti-inflammatory
agents believed to play significant roles
in the support of circulatory system,
coronary-heart, blood serum, immune
system and kidney health.
Lignans are very active compounds with strong nutraceutical
potential, whatever the mechanism(s) by which they may exert their effects. A complicating factor is that lignan-rich
foodstuffs also tend to be rich in other nutraceutical factors.
Flaxseed, for example, also contains a very high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids (22 percent), to which anti-inflammatory
properties, serum cholesterol reduction, reduced cancer- and cardiovascular- disease risks, and enhanced immune system health have also been attributed. Both flaxseed and rye contain
very significant levels of other polyphenolic antioxidants, tocopherols and tocotrienols. Flaxseed, for example, contains
an additional 0.8 percent - 1.5 percent (by weight) of the strongly antioxidant polyphenolics trans-ferulic, p-coumaric,
trans-synaptic, and trans-caffeic acids, according to researchers at the Canadian Grain Commission (see Daun, J. et al, in
Flaxseed in Human Nutrition-2nd Ed., ed.
L. Thompson and S. Cunane, 2003, AOCS
Press). High-lignan grains and oilseeds also
contain significant levels of phytic acid.
Once viewed as an antinutritional factor
for its tendency to complex with key
minerals, phytic acid has gained respect
within the nutraceutical community for
its ability to chelate pro-oxidant minerals
(like iron). There are also reports that
phytic acid may inhibit the digestion of
and thereby reduce the Glycemic Index
of starches, of significant benefit to diabetes patients. Some animal studies suggest
that dietary phytic acid may reduce
the incidence of colon cancer.
“Because flaxseed is one of the best
plant sources of omega 3 oils and lignans,
these two components have
received the most attention. However,
fiber and protein fractions may also provide
health benefits such as lowering
cholesterol,” cautioned Hall at North
Dakota State University. Both flaxseed
and rye contain very significant levels of
soluble and insoluble dietary fiber (28
percentTDF in the case of flaxseed, 15
percent in the case of rye), the consumption
of which, again, confers many of the
same benefits associated with lignans
(improved cardiovascular health,
improved serum lipid profiles, reduced
cancer- and diabetes risks).
Lignan-containing foods represent complex
nutraceutical systems. It will remain
difficult, for the foreseeable future, to
untangle the multiple nutraceutical roles of
lignans from those of other phytonutrients.
Are the effects of lignans independent or
synergistic? It’s far too early to say!
“I am convinced that it is the entire
flaxseed that confers the desired protection—
we need the fiber, the lignans, the
omega-3s. I see this as the safest method
to supplement right now,” opined U. of
“Until we understand more about the
complex interrelationships between these
ingredients, it is important that food and
nutraceutical manufacturers not tamper
with the natural food matrix within which
lignans are found,” concurred Kelley Fitzpatrick,
marketing director for the University
of Manitoba’s new Functional Food
& Nutraceuticals Center (Winnipeg).
The identification of foodstuffs high in
lignan activity offers intriguing possibilities: not only for their use in nutraceutically
concentrated supplements, but also
as food ingredients.
Both flaxseed and rye, for example,
appear to be a) strong antioxidants and b)
rich in soluble fibers that contribute
thickening and emulsifying properties.
Can ingredient systems be developed
around these products so as to contribute
both nutraceutical and functional properties
to foods? The functional limitations
of each ingredient (flavor for rye, thickening
properties for flaxseed) generally
mean that they will most often function
better as minor (versus macro) ingredients
in food formulations. The water
absorbing properties of flaxseed (due to
its mucilage fiber content) generally
restrict its use in bread formulations to
15 percent (flour basis), for example.
Consider the example of soy and flax:
soymilk, in which soy is a “macro”
ingredient, can be significant source of
isoflavones phytoestrogens. Adding a
small amount of flax (2.2 percent) to an
18 percent soy milk concentrate (13oBrix) can increase the phytoestrogen
content of the beverage from 30-mg to
80-mg per 8-oz serving, in addition to
omega-3s and other nutraceuticals contributed
For formulations wherein flaxseed’s
thickening properties limit its application,
substitution of whole, ground
flaxseed with high-lignan flaxseed bran
can contribute lignans and polyphenols at
a much smaller use level. Using the
Trolox antioxidant assay, flaxseed bran
was recently analyzed to contain about
12-times the antioxidant power of blueberries
For a variety of reasons, not the least of
which is improved nutraceutical knowledge,
it should become much easier and
desirable to incorporate lignans into a broad
variety of foods and supplements.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to cure or prevent any known disease.