ScienceDaily (Mar. 30, 2010) — A new study from Iowa State University’s Nutrition and Wellness Research Center (NWRC) may give men a way to combat high cholesterol without drugs — if they don’t mind sprinkling some flaxseed into their daily diet.
Suzanne Hendrich, an ISU professor in food science and human nutrition, led a study that examined the effects of flaxseed lignan in 90 people diagnosed with high cholesterol. The results showed that consuming at least 150 milligrams of flaxseed lignans per day (about three tablespoons) decreased cholesterol in men, but not women, by just under 10 percent over the three months that they were given the flaxseed.
While Hendrich admits that’s considerably less than the expected outcome from cholesterol-lowering drugs — approximately 10 to20 percent for three months, depending on the individual — it’s still enough to make flaxseed a more natural option for some men.
“Because there are people who can’t take something like Lipitor, this could at least give you some of that cholesterol-lowering benefit,” Hendrich said. “The other thing is, there are certainly some people who would prefer to not use a drug, but rather use foods to try to maintain their health. So this potentially would be something to consider.”
Americans suffer from high blood cholesterol
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 17 percent of Americans suffer from high blood cholesterol — a fat-like substance found in the body that can clog arteries and contribute to heart disease.
Hendrich developed the study with ISU master’s student Kai Ling Kong and doctoral graduates Zhong Ye, Xianai Wu, and Sun-Ok Lee to determine whether the main lignan in flaxseed, secoisolariciresinol diglucoside, could lower cholesterol. They’ll be presenting results of the research at the American Society for Nutrition’s annual meeting at Experimental Biology 2010, April 24-28, in Anaheim, Calif.
The study’s 90 subjects — which included twice as many men as women — all had high cholesterol, but no other underlying health conditions. The participants were divided into three groups and were randomly assigned to daily consume tablets that contained zero, 150, or 300 milligrams of flaxseed lignans for 12 weeks.
It’s the flaxseed lignans — a group of chemical compounds found in plants that are known for their protective health effects — that may help lower cholesterol, according to Hendrich. These compounds are converted to their bioactive forms by gut microbes. Hendrich reports that they made a healthy conversion in the subjects in this study, with no adverse health consequences.
No cholesterol-lowering effect in women
While the study found that the flaxseed lignans lowered cholesterol in men, it did not produce a significant change in women.
“We’re really puzzled about that because we were looking at post menopausal women and these lignans are known as plant estrogens, so they have a very weak but measurable estrogen effect,” Hendrich said. “So potentially, they would have a mild effect for substituting some estrogens in women. It’s really hard to know why [there was no effect in women] and whether these substances are counteracting, possibly, some testosterone in men, which of course women don’t have. It’s definitely something we’d like to investigate further.”
Hendrich reports the flaxseed lignan tablets used in this study are not currently available in the U.S. to her knowledge. In the absence of tablets, she says flaxseed can also be sprinkled on cereal, or added in a muffin mix or bread, although whole seeds are not very digestible. Ground flaxseed meal can also provide the desired cholesterol-lowering lignans, according to Hendrich, but it will oxidize over time and could potentially affect the flavor of the foods that it’s in. She points out that the oxidation of the product also would diminish the flaxseed’s omega-3 fatty acids, which can prevent heart attacks, so freshness is important in the product’s impact.
The ISU researcher hopes to publish the study in a professional journal. She also plans further investigation on whether flaxseed can be taken in combination with other known cholesterol-lowering substances, and whether it could prevent high cholesterol in the first place.
The $190,000 research study was jointly funded by the Archer Daniels Midland Company and Grow Iowa Values Fund.
Have you heard of this condition and if there is anything that can be done or taken to relieve this condition?
I have but the hard part is that I would need to do an exam, consultation, and possible labs to be of any help. Here are a couple of suggestions that may be of some help or at the least they will make you healthier. Follow a gluten free diet. Tons of information can be found on the net and at book stores. Ask your MD if it’s ok for you to take some Magnesium Aspartate (around 400-600mg’s) a day. The average American is, in my opinion very magnesium deficient and could benefit from supplementation. Flax seed oil, same concept but in omega 3’s.
Marcus Ettinger DC, BSc.
Dr. Marcus Ettinger’s Golden Rules for Everyday Eating
Marcus Stewart Ettinger DC, BSc.
Chief Science Officer (CSO)
California Academy of Health
Copyright © June 22, 2006, By Dr. Marcus Ettinger and California Academy of Health, Inc.
Eat six small meals per day.*
Have protein with each meal.
Only eat Low Glycemic Index** carbohydrates with protein. Examples of good meals: Meat with salad and/or vegetables and/or avocado, Meat with wild rice and/or vegetables and/or salad.
Only eat fruit one hour before a meal or four hours after. (read Fit for Life by Harvey Diamond and Marilyn Diamond)
Calories should come from a ratio of: 50% protein / 40% carbohydrates / 10% fat.*** Use avocado, almonds, flax seed oil and extra virgin olive oil for your fats.
No carbohydrates after lunch except vegetables.
Try to avoid boxed and packaged foods because they are usually loaded with preservatives, sugars and fats.
Drink 64 ounces of distilled water each day, more if you exercise.
* Include one or two whey protein shakes (low carbohydrate/sugar) per day as a meal replacement.
** Low Glycemic Index examples (ok to eat 1/2 cup cooked per day): wild rice, brown rice, barley, sweet potato, most vegetables and most fruits (1/2 cup per day) except those listed below. High glycemic Index examples (don’t eat): Bread, corn, pasta, rice, potato, banana, mango, watermelon, pineapple and papaya.
** Recently, researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association that patients who lost weight with a low-glycemic diet kept the weight off longer than patients who lost the same amount of weight with a standard low-fat diet.
*** General rule for this is 1 gram of protein for each pound of lean body weight. Example: I am 165 pounds with 10% body fat, that’s 148.5 pounds of lean muscle. I would consume around 150 grams of protein per day, that’s 600 calories coming from protein. 100 grams of Low Glycemic Index carbohydrates equal 400 calories. 22 grams of fats (listed above) equals 200 calories per day. Total daily intake of calories is 1200 calories.
For an ultra quick 5 pound weight loss jump-start, this always works for me: Eliminate all carbohydrates for three to four days, eat twice your normal amount of protein (general rule for this is 2 grams of protein per pound of lean body weight), 1 tablespoon twice a day of flax seed oil, and drink at least a gallon of water.