|1. What are flax lignans?
Lignans are phytochemicals widely distributed in the plant kingdom. They can be found in most unrefined grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. Flaxseed has been recognized as the richest source of dietary plant lignans and contains from 75 to 800 times more than any other plant source.
The major lignan in flaxseed is secoisolariciresinol-diglucoside (SDG). SDG is converted into two other types of lignans in your intestines. These lignans (enterodiol and enterolactone) promote the beneficial health effects.
2. How do flax lignans work?
Men and women have hormones in their bodies, e.g. testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. The amount of hormones circulating in our bodies varies throughout our life. They influence our health and how we feel.
Lignans have a structure that is similar to that of human estrogen. That is why they also are called phytoestrogens (plant estrogens). Although lignans have a weak estrogenic effect (much weaker than human estrogens), they can help balance hormone levels in the body. A shortage of estrogen is supplemented by lignans. However, if you have a surplus of estrogens, the weak lignans can replace the strong human estrogen. This will result in a healthy balance.
Moreover, it has been found that lignans have strong antioxidant activity. Antioxidants help protect our bodies and strengthen the immune system.
3. What are the health benefits of flax lignans?
Flaxseed is recognized to be beneficial to our health. Populations whose diets contain high amounts of lignans or other phytoestrogens, - like vegetarians, Asian and Finnish people, appear to have a much lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers. This fact attracted the attention of scientists who have conducted various clinical studies with flaxseed containing lignans. The results suggest that lignans can promote prostate health, breast health, circulatory health, bone health and help women going through menopause.
4. How much flaxseed or lignans should I take daily?
When people consume whole flaxseed, they may consume 1 to 2 tablespoons. This also is a common amount used in research studies. Based on this amount of flaxseed, an average lignan intake would be approximately 50-150 milligrams per day.
5. Why should I choose products with flax lignans?
There is a growing body of scientific evidence that lignans may help maintain human health. Our diets typically contain low amounts of lignans because many people do not eat enough whole grains, legumes and vegetables. Therefore daily supplements with flax lignans offer a convenient way to include more lignans in your diet.
6. Is there anyone who should not consume flaxseed?
Yes, individuals who have a known allergy to flaxseed, flaxseed oil or any member of the Linaceae or Linum plant families will most likely be allergic to flax lignans and should avoid flaxseed and supplements made with flax lignans. Signs of an allergic reaction might include rash, itching or shortness of breath. Consult you doctor immediately if you suspect you are having an allergic reaction.
Pregnant and lactating women should consult their physician before taking any dietary supplement, including those made with flax lignans.
7. Where can I find products with flax lignans?
There are only a few natural products companies that produce flax lignans in powder form and sell it in bulk to leading vitamin and supplement manufacturers worldwide. These manufacturers incorporate appropriate amounts of the lignans into their own branded products, such as tablets, capsules, nutritional bars, etc.
Look for flax lignans to be listed on the ingredient list (flax seed hulls or flax seed concentrates) and a guaranteed lignan content on the label of your favorite supplement brand available in regular retail stores and health food stores.