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Flaxseed – A miraculous defense against some critical maladies

  • Director, Institute of Food Science and Nutrition, Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan Pakistan


Presence of omega-3, omega-6 rich oil, alpha-linoleic acid, dietary fibers, secoisolariciresinol diglucoside, protein and minerals in flaxseed constitute a very strong basis for the utilization of flaxseed in various food preparationsas a curative agent. An extensive body of literature illustrates that flaxseed has gained a significant position in the domain of nutritional sciences owing to its pivotal role as an antioxidant agent. The review discusses at length, numerous health benefits of flaxseed typically focusing its preventive role against cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and enhancement of spatial memory. Massive increase in the size of population with a special emphasize to the developing countries, there is an urge for exploration of the alternative dietary resources that can meet the dietary and nutritional needs of forthcoming generations. With respect to its remarkable nutritional importance, the review in question enables researchers engaged in nutritional sciences to further investigate the therapeutic value of flaxseed functional components and their dietary application in various food products and availability in processed foods as well as in the human cell line.
Pak. J. Pharm. Sci., Vol.26, No.1, January 2013, pp.199-208199
Flaxseed – A miraculous defense against some critical maladies
Saeed Akhtar*, Tariq Ismail and Muhammad Riaz
Department of Food Science and Technology, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, Pakistan
Abstract: Presence of omega-3, omega-6 rich oil, alpha-linoleic acid, dietary fibers, secoisolariciresinol diglucoside,
protein and minerals in flaxseed constitute a very strong basis for the utilization of flaxseed in various food preparations
as a curative agent. An extensive body of literature illustrates that flaxseed has gained a significant position in the
domain of nutritional sciences owing to its pivotal role as an antioxidant agent. The review discusses at length, numerous
health benefits of flaxseed typically focusing its preventive role against cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and
enhancement of spatial memory. Massive increase in the size of population with a special emphasize to the developing
countries, there is an urge for exploration of the alternative dietary resources that can meet the dietary and nutritional
needs of forthcoming generations. With respect to its remarkable nutritional importance, the review in question enables
researchers engaged in nutritional sciences to further investigate the therapeutic value of flaxseed functional components
and their dietary application in various food products and availability in processed foods as well as in the human cell
Keywords: Flaxseed, fibers, health benefits, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes.
Flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum) is an agronomic crop that
produces small seeds which are further utilized for the
extraction of oil, meal and powder preparation. The seed
is a healthy source of oil containing poly-unsaturated fatty
acids, digestible proteins, and lignans. Apart from being
an affluent source of α-linolenic acid (ALA) oil, flaxseed
has a great potential to provide good quality protein,
soluble dietary fibers and considerable amount of healthy
plant phenolics. Diverse utilization of flax dates back to
more than 6000 BC with respect to their specific
nutritional components. Daily dietary consumption of
these nutrients possessing nutraceutical properties in the
form of flaxseed supplemented diet may reduce chances
of cardiovascular disorders, breast, prostate and colon
cancers development (Giada, 2010; Jhala and Hall, 2010).
Flax seed is rapidly gaining popularity as an emerging
functional food for its potential bioactive compounds i.e.
-linolenic acid (ALA), fiber, and lignans
secoisolariciresinol diglycoside (SDG) which shows to be
anti-carcinogenic, anti-oxidative and anti-estrogenic. A
substantial transition from non food uses of flaxseed to its
utilization as a part of human diet due to its potential
health benefits and chemo-protective properties linked
with omega-3s and lignan phytoestrogens that has been
witnessed specifically in the western societies (Singh et
al., 2011).
Major nutritional components of flaxseed include ALA
rich oil, protein, minerals and a greater proportion of non-
nutritional lignan-rich dietary fiber. On the dry weight
basis, flaxseed contain 20% protein, 27% total dietary
fiber 41% oil, 4% ash and 8% moisture. Albeit, flaxseed
proteins are not complete in nature but the deficiency may
be overcome effectively by enrichment with products
containing amino acids that form complete proteins
(Madhusudhan, 2009). To deal such a constraint, flaxseed
is substituted with dairy and meat based products. Among
the protein fractions, being the storage protein in flaxseed,
globulin constitutes up to 66% of its total protein contents
(Chung et al., 2005).
Flaxseed nutritional profile predominantly exhibit
significant health promoting properties with almost
everything that positively affect cholesterol levels
resulting in a beneficial impact on cardiovascular
disorders and cancer risks. Polyunsaturated fatty acids
including omega-3 and ALA, soluble dietary fiber, and
lignans having cardio-protective effects have been
accepted as vital components of flaxseed making it unique
in the array of functional foods. Daily dietary
consumption patterns of flaxseed in hypercholesterolemic
patients have been reported to lower down the total
cholesterol to a significant extent (Dahl et al., 2005;
Bassett et al., 2009).
Higher protein and dietary fiber content of flaxseed add
up its functional characteristics in flaxseed based dietary
patterns. Flax meals, after oil extraction contains 35.5%
protein, 3.5% fat, 6% ash and 70% total digestible
nutrients (Lay and Dybing, 1989). Significant amount of
*Corresponding author: e-mail:
Flaxseed – A miraculous defense against some critical maladies
Pak. J. Pharm. Sci., Vol.26, No.1, January 2013, pp.199-208
protein, soluble fibers and lignan contents represents
nutritional prospects of flax seed meal and positively
associated with health beneficial properties including
antioxidant, estrogenic and anti-estrogenic qualities (Hall
et al., 2006). Acid and alkaline soluble fractionation of
flaxseed yields 66.5 g and 71.1 g per 100 g protein, 23.0 g
and 21.5 g per 100 g carbohydrate, and 1.80 g and 2.10 g
per 100 g fat. Mueller et al. (2010) has reported acid
soluble fraction of flaxseed carbohydrate and dietary
fibers to contain 33.3 g and 32.3 g per 100 g protein, 55.6
g and 57.3 g per 100 g carbohydrate and 0.30 g and 0.60 g
per 100 g fat. Flax seed as a nutritional additive for the
preparation of certain dietary items like baked products,
ready to eat cereals and fiber bars having good health
impacts has been widely recognized in all parts of the
world. Supplementation of flax seed in a variety of foods
have been well established as a mean to enhance the
nutritional profile of the food e.g. addition of flaxseed
flour in corn tortillas increases total protein and fat
contents of the final product. Different flours are used in
bread recipes to improve nutritional profiles of finished
product. Wheat flour cannot be claimed as complete
nutritional recipes due to deficiency of some essential
components like lysine and presence of some health
intolerable elements that might cause allergies and celiac
diseases. Flours extracted from some other edible grains
like oat, barley, flaxseed can provide an ample quantity of
good quality protein and dietary fiber and contribute
effectively in the reduction of chronic disorders like
cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes (Pourafshar
et al., 2010). Enrichment of corn tortilla with ground
flaxseed at a concentration of 20% increases fat and
protein percentage from 42.7-120.0g and 91.0-129.3g per
kg of the finished product, respectively (Rendon-
Villalobos et al., 2009). Similarly, organoleptically
acceptable cookies can be prepared by supplementing
20% flax in foods as an ingredient (Hussain et al., 2006).
Flaxseed is commercially processed for oil extraction,
powder preparation and improvement of physicochemical
properties. Numerous processing techniques of flaxseed
that operates during oil extraction right from cleaning up
to solvent extraction increase its protein, ash and soluble
carbohydrate contents with an increase of in vitro protein
digestibility. Comparing egg protein with alkaline soluble
protein fractions of flaxseed, higher emulsification
properties with higher contents of SDG have been
observed (Mueller et al., 2010).
Flaxseed fibers
Most specific ingredient of flaxseed that could exert
positive effects on blood cholesterol level is its fiber that
has been tested by numerous studies both on animals and
humans. Flaxseed contains 28g of dietary fibers per 100g
of seed, thirty three percent of it constitute soluble dietary
fiber and associated with enhanced insulin sensitivity, and
significant blood cholesterol reduction that ultimately
lower down the level of cardiovascular risk factors
(Pereira et al., 2004). Flaxseed being an increasingly used
dietary supplement possesses several human health
benefits and its insoluble fibers hold a strong water-
binding capacity thus providing bulk to the diet making it
substantially beneficial for the treatment of constipation,
irritable bowel syndrome and diverticular disease. Soluble
fibers of flaxseed have shown to exert a positive effect in
controlling hypoglycemic conditions, reduction in
constipation and serum cholesterol levels, colorectal
cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer with significant
reduction in cardiovascular diseases. Tarpila et al. (2005)
reports flaxseed supplemented diet to raise the serum
enterolactone levels that lessens frequency of acute
coronary heart diseases ultimately reducing coronary
deaths cases. Numerous findings reporting the
consequences of flaxseed consumption on the lipid profile
of blood indicate a considerable improvement in human
blood lipids profile in type 2 diabetes. Lignans reduce
"bad" LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) levels thus having a
good impact on cardiovascular health. Flaxseed fiber,
mucilage gums and insoluble lignans, in addition to their
natural laxative effects show the great tendency to reduce
blood glucose levels in response to normal dietary
carbohydrate intake and help out in reduction of certain
menopausal symptoms.
Flaxseed phyto-oestrogens in the form of lignans have
been extensively studied due to their potential health
benefits. Daily dietary supplementation of SDG derived
from flaxseed extract for a period of 6 to 8 weeks
significantly reduces total cholesterol and LDL
cholesterol by 22.0% and 24.38%, respectively. Similarly
significant improvement in glycemic control but no
predominant reduction in the level of fasting glucose as
well as development of insulin resistance was observed
(Pan et al., 2007). Various flaxseed species have been
reported to contain SDG and its diastereoisomers up to a
level of 2.59 and 0.5%, respectively (Eliasson et al.,
2003). A dietary supplementation of SDG higher dose i.e.
600 mg for a period of 6 to 8 weeks significantly lowered
fasting plasma glucose up to 25-56 and 24-96%,
respectively (Zhang et al., 2008). Tendency to use
flaxseed hull as a potential source of SDG and carrying
hepatoprotective properties has been on the peak in the
recent years. Pretreatment of flaxseed SDG given to rats
potentially restores hepatic enzymes including catalase by
37.70%, peroxidase by 108.22% and superoxide
dismutase by 23.89% at a dietary SDG supplementation
of 150 µg/kg body weight (Rajesha et al., 2010).
Maternal intake of 25% flaxseed supplemented diets for a
period of 21 days, significantly reduces milk total
cholesterol and increases 17 b-estradiol and leptin. During
the normal period of lactation, maternal dietary effects of
Saeed Akhtar et al.
Pak. J. Pharm. Sci., Vol.26, No.1, January 2013, pp.199-208 201
flaxseed were assessed on the body mass composition and
the milk profile of the mother. Further feeding of
offspring at this milk for a period of 21days, reduces
overall body mass including body and visceral fat masses
(Troina et al., 2010).
Flaxseed oil
Unsaturated and poly unsaturated oils are preferred over
animal fats due to their potential health benefits. Beside
conventional plant sources, flaxseed is thought to be
containing an ample quantity of oil with higher
percentage of poly unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).
Human body, under ideal conditions needs a balanced
proportion of some healthy essential fatty acids i.e.
omega-3 and omega-6 but in actual scenario, modern
western diets are deficient in these essential fatty acids.
This state of affairs might be controlled by flaxseed that
can supply ample quantity of essential fatty acid omega-3.
It has been reported that higher omega-6 intake have a
tendency of clotting blood platelets forming the basis of
thrombosis eventually leading to atherosclerosis
(Madhusudhan, 2009).
Oil seeds provide a healthy oil profile that may have
potential as a source of specialty oils on the ground of
their immense health properties. Oils rich in unsaturated
and poly unsaturated fatty acids and tocopherol are
preferred to be added in infant’s formulas and different
food products to gain maximum nutraceutical and health
related properties (Moyad, 2005; Bozan and Temelli,
2008). Special diets can be formulated using flaxseed oil
to meet the standard health requirements. Such kind of
supplemented products can be effectively used by the
community with special dietary requirements (Rendon-
Villalobos et al., 2009).
Previous studies indicate that flaxseed hull oil extraction
with different solvents and extraction technique can yield
9 to 28% oil with a variant profile of neutral lipids,
phospholipids, acidic lipids and free fatty acids i.e.
92.5%, 3.1%, 2.4% and 2.1%, respectively. Oils with
highest antioxidant capacity were extracted by
supercritical CO2 yielding the hull with maximum SDG
level i.e. 53 mg/g (Oomah and Sitter, 2009). Beside SDG,
flaxseed oil contains many phenolic compounds like
ferulic acid, coumaric acid, diphyllin, vanillin pinoresinol
and p-hydroxybenzoic acid (Herchi et al., 2011). Almost
57% of total flaxseed fat is consist of omega-3 poly
unsaturated fats that if included in dietary habits can
increase blood clotting time and subsequently reduce
blood pressure and cardiac stroke risks. Lignan glycosides
of flaxseed oil vary during storage period at different
storage temperatures, as well as light and dark periods.
SDG quantified from flaxseed lipids by a reliable and
sensitive HPLC method revealed preserving effect of
flaxseed oil from oxidative deterioration during lower
storage temperatures and dark periods (Bravi et al., 2011).
Dietary fatty acid, ALA has been reported to reduce
cardiovascular risks on dietary supplementation (Harper
et al., 2006). Flaxseed oil contains 58.3% γ-linolenic acid
among major fatty acids. Being a rich source of γ-
tocopherol, 100g of flaxseed oil contains 79.4 mg of γ-
tocopherol. Flax seed oil has shown to comparatively less
oxidative stability as compared with safflower and poppy
seed oil i.e. 1.57h, 2.87h and 5.56h, respectively at 110ºC
(Bozan and Temelli, 2008).
In addition to soybeans, oats, psyllium, garlic, tea, fish,
grapes and nuts, flaxseed is proven to be the functional
food that not only justify the nutritional requirements but
also impart its characteristic role in preventing various
diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids contents of flax seed oil
anticipates numerous health promising properties
including reduction in the incidence of aberrant crypt foci
(ACF) which is a precursor lesion in developing colon. In
rat model, glutathione-s-transferase (GST) activities that
have been found to increase on feeding 14% flaxseed oil
and 20% flaxseed meal as compared to controlled rats and
those fed with soybean oil diets (Williams et al., 2007).
Serum Lipid Profile Improvement
Flaxseed and products derived thereof, improve the lipids
pool of blood by reducing total and LDL cholesterol e.g.
SDG isolates of flaxseed have been characteristically
represented to reduce atherosclerosis development in
rabbits demonstrating it to be a very effective antioxidant
with serum lipids lowering ability. This has also been
found to suppress hypercholesterolemia atherosclerosis
development. A regular diet supplemented with flaxseed
isolated SDG at a rate of 20mg/kg body weight/day
reduces atherosclerosis lesions development from 84 to
24% (Prasad, 2008). Regular dietary consumption of
flaxseed SDG significantly decreases LDL-C levels thus
maintaining lower level of bad cholesterol as compared to
high density lipoprotein cholesterol. Oral administration
of 100mg flaxseed SDG for a period of 12 weeks can
decrease blood cholesterol level and hepatic disorders
induced by hypercholesterolemia in humans (Fukumitsu
et al., 2010).
Other studies suggested a regular intake of 25% flaxseed
supplemented diet for a period of 180 days to attain
significant reduction in serum LDL and triacylglycerols.
Similarly a dietary intake of 10% flaxseed for a period of
30 days has indicated a substantial reduction in blood
cholesterol level of rat models (Abdel-Rahman et al.,
Synthesis of bile acids greater than normal level is
associated with the consumption of flaxseed and its oil. A
comparative study conducted to evaluate the effect of
flaxseed and its derived oil on in the Golden Syrian
Flaxseed – A miraculous defense against some critical maladies
Pak. J. Pharm. Sci., Vol.26, No.1, January 2013, pp.199-208
Hamsters after ovariectomy, increased bile acid synthesis
with subsequent reduction in blood cholesterol (Lucas et
al., 2011).
Cardiovascular Protection
Among the wide range of functional foods, flaxseed
stands out as a potential candidate containing therapeutic
value for cardiovascular risk reduction. Major
constituents of the flaxseed i.e. α-linolenic acid, soluble
fibers and lignans have been shown to be promising for
atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases prevention. Beside
cardiovascular diseases, various components of flaxseed
possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic,
hypoglycemic, anti-platelet properties (Bloedon and
Szapary, 2004; Verghese et al., 2011).
An emerging class of phytoestrogens i.e. ALA and dietary
lignans have been reported by Mandasescu et al. (2005) to
be excessively available in flaxseed and believed to carry
lipid-lowering and antioxidant properties that positively
alter cardiovascular risk. Being a good source of ALA,
flaxseed increases its levels in serum if consumed with
regular diet. In another study by Bloedon et al. (2008) on
flaxseed demonstrated modest low density lipoprotein
cholesterol (LDL-C) reducing effect on lipoproteins and
improved insulin sensitivity in hyperlipidemic adults. The
study conferred a reduction in LDL-C by ~14% levels
after continuous consumption for a period of 5weeks as
compared to wheat. The aforementioned findings are well
supported by the work of Dodin et al. (2005) that
ingestion of yellow flaxseed powder ~ 40g reduces blood
serum HDL cholesterol levels of menopausal women to a
significant extent.
Eicosanoides derived from omega-3-fatty acids, present in
flaxseed primarily improves heart function by reducing
blood cholesterol. A proportionate effect on blood
cholesterol concentration and low-density lipoprotein
fraction has been linked with higher concentrations of
flaxseeds in the diets indicating greater reduction in LDL
protein, serum and liver cholesterol (Gambus et al., 2004;
Cintra et al., 2006). Various studies report significant
beneficial effect of flaxseed on the heart function
suggesting a daily consumption of 40g of whole yellow
omega flaxseed ground into powder and supplemented in
baked products modulates several CVD risk markers
(Dodin et al., 2005; Mandasescu et al., 2005; Bloedon et
al., 2008).
Free radical scavenging
Some highly reactive compounds commonly recognized
as reactive oxygen species (ROS) that generate due to
exposure of endothelial cells to some radioactive sources
and lead to certain degenerative disorders (Szotowski et
al., 2007). Formation of free radicals in diabetic patients
has been represented by Maritim et al. (2003) as a process
of oxidation and non-enzymatic glycation of glucose and
proteins followed by its degradation. Some more precise
studies have reported lungs damages probably linked with
free radicals (Kinniry et al., 2006; Lee et al., 2008).
Studies on dietary flaxseed have confirmed its role as a
potential radio protector against radiation induced injuries
during x-ray radiation therapy for oncological treatments
(Lee et al., 2009). Being a rich source of natural
antioxidants, dietary supplementation of flaxseed has
been gaining popularity. Flax lignans possess antioxidant
properties; specifically SDG isolated from flaxseed has
shown direct hydroxyl radical scavenging properties to
inhibit lipid peroxidation in some in vitro studies.
Cancer preventive and curative potential
A new genomic technology namely nutritional
modulation of carcinogenic pathways has been under
investigation in the form of functional foods with specific
nutrients having therapeutic values as preventive and
curative strategy for the treatment of some complicated
health disorders. Tendency to cure the maladies like
gastric ulcers, cardiovascular disorders, prostate and
colorectal carcinoma by utilization of functional foods is
increasing day by day. Smoking, alcoholism, lack of
physical activity, imbalanced dietary intake and poor
nutrition has been associated to the onset of such health
issues. Seeds of edible crops are often used in the normal
dietary patterns of Asian and African communities, while
their role as functional food ingredients and a preventive
as well as curative strategy for cancer have been
frequently discussed by researchers. Investigations into
the flaxseed for cancer prevention owing to its s bioactive
metabolic components have been made and have proven
to be beneficial (Bergman et al., 2007). A broad study
have been reported by Power and Thompson (2011)
critically focusing reduction in the process of cancer
progression in relation to the consumption of flaxseed and
its antioxidant, estrogenic, and antiestrogenic effects that
influence the prostate cellular proliferation.
Phytoestrogens are biologically active estrogenic
compounds found in flaxseed that influence protein
synthesis, cell proliferation, hormone metabolism,
angiogenesis and intracellular enzymes (Branca and
Lorenzetti, 2005). Mammalian metabolites of flaxseed
lignans i.e. enterodiol and enterolactone can serve as a
protective approach to cope with pre-cancer cellular
alterations. Like phytoestrogens, flaxseed lignans
metabolize estrogens and are supposed to serve in prostate
and breast cancer prevention strategies as an adjuvant in
hormone replacement therapy (Thompson et al., 2005;
Knust et al., 2006; Adolphe et al., 2010). Acid hydrolysis
followed by alcoholic extraction in the form of hexane
and ethyl acetate mixture is the most suitable strategy for
the extraction of flaxseed lignans active components i.e.
secoisolariciresinol (97% purity) and anhydro
secoisolariciresinol (98% purity). Anhydro
secoisolariciresinol act as cancer modulator and its
Saeed Akhtar et al.
Pak. J. Pharm. Sci., Vol.26, No.1, January 2013, pp.199-208 203
extraction from flaxseed lignans is comparatively more
efficient than secoisolariciresinol. Modulation
concentration of flaxseed secoisolariciresinol for breast
cancer cells development has been reported as 50-100 µM
by Lehraiki et al. (2010). Diets formulated by fat
restriction and flaxseed supplementation, if included in
regular dietary plan can affect the prostate cell biology.
Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids sources i.e. fats with
natural or enriched higher concentration from corn oil and
flaxseed oil, respectively, play a significant role in
inhibiting development of chemically induced tumors in
laboratory animals thus reducing chances of colon cancer
initiation (Bhatia et al., 2011). At a lower levels of
oestradiol, reducing effect on the growth of oestrogen
receptors and breast cancer cells of human have been
demonstrated by n-3 fatty acid rich fractions of flaxseed
cotyledon. Flaxseed cotyledons based diet feed to tumor
induced mice (82g/kg) for a period of 8 weeks
significantly lowers the cell proliferation process and
reduces tumor growth area (Chen et al., 2011). Dietary
combination of flaxseed oil (8%) with primary anticancer
drugs can significantly reduce breast tumor development
~89% as compare to primary drug treatment alone for a
period of 4 weeks (Mason et al., 2010).
Hypoglycemic effects of flaxseed
Global health surveys estimates devastating effects of
diabetes in the next few decades afflicting a great size of
World population. Looking forward to cope such
malignancies, long term strategies can be built by re-
editing the daily dietary plans. Flaxseed flour
supplementation in the diet has been suggested as a
preventive measure against diabetes and associated other
complications (Maritim et al., 2003; Ugochukwu et al.,
2003). Diets supplemented with flaxseeds have shown to
exert an improved liver and kidney antioxidant enzymes
activities of diabetic animals. Diabetes is more or less
associated with the higher levels of plasma and kidney
malonaldialdehyde (MDA) in addition to the reduction of
the antioxidant enzymes pool.
Significant reduction in MDA levels with tubular dilation
and glomerular hypertrophy of histological section of
rat’s kidney has been proposed by Makni et al., (2010)
suggesting dietary intake of flaxseed based diet for 10
weeks very helpful for the prevention of diabetes and its
complications. Diabetic complications in the form of
oxidative stress and macrosomia can be observed in fetus
of diabetic mothers. Dietary supplementation of fatty
acids as proposed by modern research could be help full
to counter such complications in mother’s womb by her
improved dietary patterns. Flaxseed fats being rich in ω3-
and ω6-polyunsaturated fatty acids in the flaxseed based
diets of diabetic mothers are reported to be a remedy of
diabetic complications in mothers as well as her offspring
by decreasing MDA levels and increasing liver enzyme
concentration (Makni et al., 2011).
In addition to C-peptide, insulin growth factors (IGF) and
binding proteins (IGF-BP) in the form of IGF-1 and IGF-
BP3 are recognized as insulin growth marker. The growth
markers production as well as circulation is however
affected by non-healthy dietary patterns. Flaxseed
supplementation in the regular diets of postmenopausal
women demonstrates no negative effect on the circulation
of insulin markers in serum (Sturgeon et al., 2011).
Improvement of spatial memory
Loss in spatial memory is very much associated with
accumulation of lipid peroxide in the hippocampus.
Higher levels of flaxseed nutritional as well as non-
nutritional components like antioxidants in the form N-3
fatty acids most often referred as ω-3 fatty acids i.e. ALA,
docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and dietary fibers i.e.
lignans, in addition to reduction of body mass reduces
levels of lipid peroxide in the hippocampus. Studies on
flax feed dam suggest that improvement in hippocampus
ALA and DHA concentration results in reduction of
spatial memory inhibitors thus increases learning ability
of flaxseed feed dams (Fernandes et al., 2011).
Consumer acceptance of flaxseed and its consumption
As a functional food, flaxseed is supplemented in
different food preparations to enhance their food value
with the help of its bioactive compounds like dietary
fibers and n-3 fatty acids. Sensory acceptability of such
nutritious and healthy foods is very much associated with
the functional components of these diets. Higher amounts
of flaxseed flour supplementation in bakery products
beside their potential health benefits in the form of its
functional components like α-Linolenic acid, lignan and
antioxidants might affect organoleptic properties (Aliani
et al., 2011). Acceptance of flaxseed as a dietary
functional food ingredient in cakes assessed at structured
nine point hedonic scale revealed consumer acceptance up
to 30% supplementation level (Moraes et al., 2010).
Flaxseed breads beside their higher contents of mono and
polyunsaturated fatty acids are well accepted on the
ground of color, texture and firmness (Calderelli et al.,
2010). Flaxseed fatty acids are less heat stable and results
in production of some oxidized products and
contaminants like acrylamide and hydroxymethyl furfural.
Corn starch with higher amylase contents can be used to
form complexes with flaxseed oil particles that
significantly reduce lipid oxidation and prevent formation
of acrylamide and hydroxymethyl furfural during flaxseed
supplemented bread baking (Gokmen et al., 2011).
Sensory acceptance scores for appearance, flavor,
tenderness, juiciness and overall acceptability of flaxseed
flour supplemented beef patties decreases by increasing
its supplementation level. Organoleptically acceptable and
nutritionally improved beef patties have been primed by
Bilek and Turhan (2009) suggesting supplementation
levels of flaxseed flour ~ 6%. Flaxseed flour added to
Flaxseed – A miraculous defense against some critical maladies
Pak. J. Pharm. Sci., Vol.26, No.1, January 2013, pp.199-208
wheat flour as a fortifying strategy needs to be
investigated to earn utmost beneficial outcomes.
However, the nutritional and pecuniary aspects of such
fortification should be evaluated for their possible effects
on sensorial and functional characteristics of the finished
food products in addition to the bioavailability of the
essential food components (Akhtar et al., 2010).
New and safer trends towards the development of
nutritionally enriched foods with medicinal importance
are on the peak. Various ailments related to unhealthy
dietary patterns, environmental stress induced
degenerative disorders and overburdened life styles are
Table 1: Summary of some major studies on various health aspects of flaxseed from 1995 to 2004
References Conclusion
Thompson (1995) Lignans isolated from flaxseed reduces intestinal absorption of testosterone and can inhibit
proliferation of prostate tissue.
Cunnane et al. (1995) Higher rate of flaxseed flour substitution in the rats diets exhibit a significant decline in the
serum, liver and LDL cholesterol
Geil et al. (1995) Serum cholesterol is associated with prostate cancer and dietary intervention with flaxseed
reduces serum cholesterol by 4.2 to 10.9% in men.
Cunnane et al. (1995)
Jenkins et al. (1999)
Reduction in the LDL cholesterol is attributed to flaxseed soluble fibers.
Arjmandi et al. (1998) 40g daily dietary intake of flaxseed reduces HDL-C ~ 4.6% in postmenopausal women.
Meanwhile higher rate of HDL-C has been noticed in men as compared to women.
Expert Panel on Food
Safety and Nutrition (1998)
Unique nutritional profile of flaxseed associated with its polyunsaturated fatty acids and
soluble dietary fibers recognize the crop world wise as health beneficial food source.
Denis et al. (1999)
Thomas, (1999)
Yip et al. (1999)
Plant based n-3 fatty acids being linked with triglycerides reduction are widely accepted.
Being a rich source of ALA, flaxseed is one of the best plant sources that serve the purpose
Denis et al. (1999)
Thomas, (1999)
Low fat flaxseed based diets are recognized as rich source of phytoestrogens that can effect
prostate cellular proliferation.
Sciarra & Toscano (2000) ALA derived from flaxseed oil could be a remedial strategy in patients facing higher blood
Connor (2000)
Dietary lignans and phytoestrogens have a strong potential to reduce lipid levels in addition
to their antioxidant properties. Flaxseed is a well recognized source of such miraculous
functional food components.
Demark et al. (2001)
Reduction in the rate of prostate proliferation and increase in the apoptotic index of prostate
cancer patients adheres to the low-fat, flaxseed-supplemented diets as compared to the
historic controls.
Lemay et al. (2002) Women reported as hypercholestrolemic when fed with 40g flaxseed supplemented diets
daily, a significant reduction in their cholesterol level was noticed.
Banerjee & Maulik (2002) Flaxseed dietary fibers carry anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative properties that are
thought to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.
Lucas et al. (2002)
Feeding postmenopausal women with diets supplemented with 40g of flaxseed daily for a
continuous period of 3 months reduces serum cholesterol up to 6% as compared to a wheat
flour control diet.
Bhathena et al. (2003) Rats studies reveal flaxseed based diets to reduce plasma total cholesterol on regular
Goodstine (2003)
Free radical scavenging and serum lipid capabilities are associated with flaxseed dietary
fibers that not only reduce the rate of tumor epithelial proliferation but also increase
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epidemiologic studies to be conducted.
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A minor but significant reduction in the level of liver transaminases is associated with
flaxseed. However, no such findings representing significant changes have been reported
from human. Reduction in hepatosteatosis (fatty liver condition) by dietary intake of
flaxseed has been observed in rat models.
Pereira et al. (2004)
On the weight basis, flaxseed is comprised of 28% dietary fibers. Soluble fiber constitutes
about 9.33% of dietary fibers and predominately associated with cholesterol reduction and
reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases as well as improved sensational secretion of insulin.
Zhao et al. (2004)
Dietary inclusion of flaxseed in the regular diets reduces HDL-C up to 10.5% as compared to
sunflower and fish oil i.e. 5.6 and 3%, respectively.
Bemelmans et al. (2004)
Demark- Wahnefried et al.
(2004) Lucas et al. (2004)
Low fats diets formulated flaxseed supplementation might create some positive changes in
prostate cell biology and linked characters.
Saeed Akhtar et al.
Pak. J. Pharm. Sci., Vol.26, No.1, January 2013, pp.199-208 205
few major possible reasons behind digestive disorders,
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curative plans by selecting most appropriate dietary
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specifically secoisolariciresinol diglucoside. A plentiful
work has been performed in last decade at nutritional and
health beneficial properties of the flaxseed up to animal as
well as human cell lines level that suggest its
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diseases. Flaxseed flour and oil supplementation in
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... Flaxseed, belonging to Linaceae family is tiny, flat and elliptical shaped seed (Safdar et al. 2019) and has been highlighted as one of the best plant sources used as a functional food. The seed and its individual fractions bearing food properties are also recommended as nutraceutical owing to their protective and curative properties in glycemia, cardiovascular disorders, inflammation and oxidative changes (Mohamed et al. 2003;Akhtar et al. 2013). ...
Diabetes mellitus is an important metabolic disorder and owing to its significant health impacts is a leading cause of death around the globe. According to WHO estimates, Pakistan is the 7th highest diabetes affected population of the world where almost 7 million peoples are suffering from the disease. Flaxseed lignan and beta glucan have constructive role in controlling diabetes. In connection to their enhanced insulin sensitivity, dietary supplementation of flaxseed fiber has shown potential results in postmenopausal diabetic women. The subject population was feed with lignan and beta glucan capsules and hypoglycemic activity was monitored both on daily and weekly basis. Blood samples was taken to observe the blood glucose by use of flaxseed lignan and β glucan in postmenopausal women. Fasting and random glucose levels of postmenopausal diabetic women in 4 weeks fed on flaxseed lignan and β glucan (P<0.01). Liver and kidney functioning tests are found to be non-significant. This research indicates that flaxseed lignan and β glucan reduces the random and fasting blood glucose levels in postmenopausal patients.
... Flaxseeds are obtained from a harvest, and are popular for their nutritional benefits. The seeds are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and also contain phytoesterogenic lignans, especially secoisolariciresinol diglucoside 16 . Flaxseed oil is usually extracted from the seeds by using a cold pressure procedure 14 . ...
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Objective: To find out the preventive effect of flaxseed oil on the hepatic damage produced by the Lipofundin, a soyabean based lipid emulsion used in parenteral therapies. Study Design: Experimental study. Place and Duration of Study: The study was carried out at the University of Health Sciences, Lahore for a period of one year, from Jan 2015 to Dec 2015. Material and Methods: Experimental study has been performed to study the effect of flaxseed oil on the lipofundin induced hepatotoxicity. Thirty-two male adult albino rats were obtained from animal house of University of Health Sciences, Lahore and divided into four equal groups. Group A (control group) was given flaxseed oil 3ml/kg intraperitonially daily for 10 days and sacrificed on day 11. Group B was given Lipofundin 2ml/kg intravenously daily for 10 days and sacrificed on day 11. Group C was given Lipofundin 2ml/kg intravenously daily for 10 days and sacrificed on day 21. Group D was given Lipofundin 2ml/kg intravenously for 10 days followed by Flaxseed oil 3ml/kg intraperitonially for 10 days and sacrificed on day 21. Results: Flaxseed oil was observed to restore the hepatic tissue damage caused by the lipofundin administration. Conclusion: Flaxseed oil has an ameliorative effect on the hepatic tissue damage caused by the Lipofundin. Hence its use may help prevent hepatic tissue damage caused by lipofundin used in parenteral therapies.
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The current study aims at highlighting potential use of raw and processed defatted mango kernel flour (DMKF) in the preparation of leavened bread. Straight grade flour (SGF) was replaced with DMKF at 0–25% levels. Biochemical composition, anti‐nutritional aspects, and antioxidant potential of DMKF and supplemented bread were investigated. DMKF supplementation resulted in enhanced protein (12.24–13.04%), dietary fiber (0.37–0.54%), and total phenolics concentration (85–128.35 mg GAE/100g) of bread. Likewise, significant improvement (p < .05) was recorded in Ca, K, Fe, and Zn levels of supplemented bread. Processing techniques found to be efficient in reducing anti‐nutritional compounds in processed mango kernel flour and supplemented bread. DPPH (2,2‐diphenyl‐1‐picrylhydrazyl) and FRAP (ferric reducing antioxidant potential) values found to be higher in raw DMKF supplemented bread as compared to the processed DMKF bread. The current study concludes DMKF supplementation improved nutritional profile and antioxidant potential of leavened bread. Practical applications Present investigation examined raw and processed DMKF for their potential to play a pivotal role in nutritional deficiency related maladies and may also be utilized as a novel ingredient in functional food preparation. Sagacious exploitation of this fruit waste as caloric energy anticipating food ingredient might help resolve industrial waste management and food security issues especially in mango producing & processing under developed countries.
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Breast cancer (BC) is the most common cancer among women worldwide. Dietary fatty acids, especially n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), are believed to play a role in reducing BC risk. Evidence has shown that fish consumption or intake of long-chain n-3 PUFA, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are beneficial for inhibiting mammary carcinogenesis. The evidence regarding α-linolenic acid (ALA), however, remains equivocal. It is essential to clarify the relation between ALA and cancer since ALA is the principal source of n-3 PUFA in the Western diet and the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is not efficient in humans. In addition, the specific anticancer roles of individual n-3 PUFA, alone, have not yet been identified. Therefore, the present review evaluates ALA, EPA and DHA consumed individually as well as in n-3 PUFA mixtures. Also, their role in the prevention of BC and potential anticancer mechanisms of action are examined. Overall, this review suggests that each n-3 PUFA has promising anticancer effects and warrants further research.
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Abstract The present study aims at highlighting the nutritive potential of pomegranate peel and its possible utilization as an ingredient of choice to nutritionally enrich cookies. Biochemical composition and free radical scavenging features of pomegranate peel powder (PoP) and PoP supplemented cookies were measured. PoP supplementation significantly (p < 0.05) improved dietary fibers (0.32-1.96 g/100 g), total phenols (90.7-161.9 mg GAE/100 g) and inorganic residues (0.53-0.76 g/100 g) of cookies. Similarly, significant increase in Ca, K, Fe and Zn levels was noted in supplemented cookies. Almost 50% 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical scavenging activity was recorded in cookies carrying highest concentration of PoP and phenolic contents. PoP phenolics of supplemented cookies were shown to reduce oxidative degradation during four months storage. Present study suggests PoP supplementation in baked products as a potential source of micro and macronutrients. Application of PoP in ready to serve foods seems to be a potential disease preventive and ameliorative approach in tandem with its preservation and nutritional enhancement features.
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The primary objective of the study was to evaluate the beneficial effects of individual and combined flaxseed and garlic diets on the hyperlipidemic rats.
Recent research has suggested that an increased (n-3) fatty acid intake and/or increased (n-3)/(n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) ratio in the diet is associated with a lower breast cancer risk. This case-control study investigated the association between intake of (n-3) and other fatty acids and the (n-3)/(n-6) PUFA ratio and breast cancer risk. After combining data from two related case-control studies in Connecticut, we had information available on a total of 1119 women (565 cases and 554 controls). Cases were all histologically confirmed, incident breast carcinoma patients. Controls were hospital-based (Yale-New Haven Hospital study site) and population-based (Tolland County study site). Information on dietary intake was obtained through a validated food-frequency questionnaire. Standard multivariate methods were used to address the independent effects of specific fatty acids, fat classes and macronutrients on breast cancer risk. In the full study population, there were no significant trends for any macronutrient/fatty acid when comparing the highest to the lowest quartile of intake. When the analysis was restricted to premenopausal women, consumption of the highest compared with the lowest quartile of the (n-3)/(n-6) PUFA ratio was associated with a nonsignificant 41% lower risk of breast cancer [odds ratio (OR) = 0.59, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.29, 1.19, P for trend = 0.09]. A higher (n-3)/(n-6) PUFA ratio was significantly associated with a lower risk of breast cancer when the data were restricted to the Tolland County (population-based) study site; OR = 0.50, 95% CI 0.27, 0.95, P for trend = 0.02. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that a higher (n-3)/(n-6) PUFA ratio may reduce the risk of breast cancer, especially in premenopausal women.
The use of flaxseed as a dietary supplement is increasing in parallel with the research on its multitudinous effects on human health. Water-binding capacity of flaxseed insoluble fiber increases the intestinal bulk which is useful in the treatment of constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticular disease. Soluble fiber from flaxseed mucilage delays gastric emptying, improves glycemic control, alleviates constipation and reduces serum cholesterol. Epidemiological studies show that the intake of dietary fiber and colorectal cancer correlate inversely. Flaxseed lignans and fatty acids have been investigated in several cohort studies for their effects on breast cancer risk and there is an association between elevated serum enterolactone and decreased incidence of breast cancer. The flaxseed diet has been shown to be beneficial on prostate cancer and benign prostate hyperplasia when defined by cell proliferation indexes and other cancer biomarkers. Alpha-linolenic acid seems to have an antiproliferative effect on prostate cancer cells. Elevated serum enterolactone level associates with a lower incidence of acute coronary heart disease. Respectively, low serum enterolactone enhances the risk for coronary deaths. Alpha-linolenic acid has been shown protective against cerebrovascular stroke and atherogenic carotid plaque formation. This article reviews health aspects of dietary flaxseed in light of current scientific research.
Conference Paper
For centuries, cereals have been major food stuffs used all around the world; because of that, there are many different kinds of breads produced from different types of flours. Despite the variety of flours available, there are still many challenges to produce ingredients which maximize nutrient components, and with which healthier breads and other products can be produced. As studies have shown, traditional wheat flour has some nutritional deficiencies (although this is a matter of perspective), which depend on the level of consumption. Additionally, gluten intolerance and Celiac disease are growing problems. The nutritional value of breads can be enhanced through the use of a variety of alternative flours. The objective of this study is to review and discuss alternatives to traditional wheat flour, with an emphasis on improved nutritional characteristics. Oat, for instance, has been used to improve the protein and fiber content of bread. Fortification of breads with soybean flour can also dramatically improve their protein quality. Barley, flaxseed, and rye flours can be used to increase the amount of dietary fiber in breads. Dietary fiber can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes. Rye flour is recommended as an integral part of the diet as a source of biologically active substances. There are also other materials which can be used to add value to flour. One of them is DDGS, which is a co-product from the production of fuel ethanol from corn. By using alternative materials, traditional wheat flours can be fortified and their nutrient profiles enhanced.
We conducted a double-blind cross-over study to compare the effects of whole flaxseed and sunflower seed, as part of the daily diet, on the lipid profile of postmenopausal women. During two 6-wk periods, thirty-eight mild, moderate, or severely (5.85–9.05 mmol/L) hypercholesterolemic postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to one of the two regimens: flaxseed or sunflower seed. The subjects were provided with 38 g of either treatment in the forms of breads and muffins. The first treatment period lasted six weeks and was followed by a two-wk washout phase. After the washout phase, subjects switched regimens and treatments continued for another 6 weeks. Blood samples were collected at baseline, 6, 8, and 14th wk of the study periods. Significant (p<0.01) reductions in total cholesterol were observed for both treatments (6.9 and 5.5% for flaxseed and sunflower seed, respectively). However only flaxseed regimen was able to significantly (p<0.001) lower LDL-cholesterol (14.7%). Serum HDL-cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations were unaffected by either of the treatments. Most interestingly, lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)], a strong predictor of cardiovascular disease, concentrations were significantly (p<0.05) lowered by the flaxseed treatment (7.4% compared to baseline values). Regression analyses showed the strongest association between age and both total and LDL-cholesterol concentrations. Among the dietary variables, total and soluble fiber intakes were negatively correlated with serum total and LDL-cholesterol concentrations. The cholesterol lowering effects of flaxseed and sunflower seed may be due to the activity of single or multiple components, including α-linolenic or linoleic acids, total and soluble fiber, and non-protein constituents present in these seeds.
The objective of this study was to evaluate the nutritional value, the oxidative stabilitiy, and consumer acceptance of cakes containing four different concentrations of flaxseed flour (5, 15, 30 and 45%) as partial replacement for wheat flour. The oxidative stability of polyunsaturated fatty acids was evaluated through the lipid peroxidation test (TBARS) in the flour and cakes. Linolenic acid was determined by gas chromatography as well as contents of protein, lipid, ash, and dietary fiber. Consumer acceptance was assessed using a structured hedonic scale of nine points. The oxidative stability of lipid flaxseeds was not affected by the heat treatment during flour processing and cake baking. Cakes made with 5, 15, and 30% of flaxseed flour, the most accepted by consumers, had dietary fiber levels ranging from 3.5 to 6.2 g and linolenic acid ranging from 445 to 2,500 mg.100 g–1 of the product. The cakes received claims of good and excellent source of dietary fiber and linolenic acid, respectively, both are bioactive compounds. The use of up to 30% of flaxseed flour in the preparation of cakes is a useful strategy to optimize the consumption of food rich in functional ingredients. Keywords: flaxseed flour; cakes; lipid peroxidation; bioactive compounds; acceptance.
A new method based on high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with electrospray ionisation time-of-flight-mass spectrometry (HPLC–ESI–TOF (MS)) has been used to analyse phenolic compounds in flaxseed oil. Some phenolic compounds such as secoisolariciresnol, ferulic acid and its methyl ester, coumaric acid methyl ester, diphyllin, pinoresinol, matairesinol, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, vanillin and vanillic acid have been detected from flaxseed oil. The quantification of these compounds in three varieties of flaxseed oils was carried out using their commercial standards. The efficiency, rapidity and high resolution of HPLC coupled to the sensitivity, selectivity, mass accuracy and true isotopic pattern from TOF (MS) have revealed an enormous separation potential allowing the determination of a broad series of phenolic and other polar compounds present in flaxseed oil for the first time.
A high-performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) reliable and sensitive method with diode array detection (DAD) system has been developed for the determination of secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG) in flaxseed oil. An analytical methodology based on the sample extraction with methanol/water (80:20, v/v), subsequent purification of the sample and analysis of the extract by HPLC/DAD is proposed for the determination of SDG in flaxseed oil. The coefficient of determination of the standard calibration curve was 0.999, the limit of detection was 0.08μg/mL, and the limit of quantification was 0.27μg/mL. The recovery test was conducted adding four different concentrations of standard solution to the blank sample. The recovery ranged from 90% to 95%. To our knowledge, the presence and quantification of SDG in flaxseed oil has never been reported. The proposed method was tested to study the variation in SDG content in flaxseed oil during a shelf-life test to verify its applicability in quality control for oil industries. The dark and the low temperature of storing together allowed to preserve SDG. A slight pro-oxidant effect was observed for the addition of antioxidant to the flaxseed oil.