Holis­tic Health

Farmer's Weekly (South Africa) - - Contents - FW

The lig­nans (mi­cronu­tri­ents) and sterols (or­ganic mol­e­cules) found in flaxseed are recog­nised for low­er­ing blood pres­sure. Less well known is that they also re­duce lipid per­ox­i­da­tion, which is linked to car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease. Lipid per­ox­i­da­tion oc­curs when choles­terol car­ri­ers such as low-den­sity lipopro­teins (LDL) be­come ox­i­dised.

Lipid per­ox­i­da­tion causes free rad­i­cals, which dam­age blood ves­sel walls, pro­duc­ing the plaque that causes pe­riph­eral artery dis­ease and other car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases.

The ef­fi­ciency of lig­nans in flaxseed at low­er­ing lipid per­ox­i­da­tion was shown in a study at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia. For six weeks, 37 mid­dle-aged adults, di­vided into two groups, were given flaxseed bars. One group re­ceived a bar with flaxseed con­tain­ing 0,41g lig­nans, and the other a bar with flaxseed con­tain­ing 0,15g lig­nans. Both bars were other­wise iden­ti­cal.

The group that ate the high­lig­nan bars daily had a 12% lower choles­terol level, a 15% lower LDL-choles­terol level, and a 25% lower level of ox­i­dised LDL than the other group.

The con­clu­sion was that high-lig­nan flax has the unique prop­erty of de­creas­ing plaque-form­ing ox­i­dised LDL choles­terol, a risk fac­tor for car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease as it dam­ages blood ves­sel walls.

The safest form of flax is ground whole seeds. Fresh flax oil is healthy but as it can be­come ran­cid it is best avoided. • Jo­hanita Louw has had a life­long in­ter­est in holis­tic nutri­tion. Email her at farm­er­[email protected]­ton.co.za. Sub­ject line: Holis­tic health.

Jo­hanita Louw

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