Cholesterol/LipidsExerciseFlaxseedHigh Blood PressureObesity

Effects of flaxseed on the metabolic syndrome and exercise

The effects of taking flaxseed lignan complex during exercise in older adults were studied by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon.

Lignans are a group of chemical compounds found in plants, particularly in flaxseed. Lignans are phytoestrogens — weak estrogen-like chemicals that also act as antioxidants.

First, the details.

  • 100 adults at least 50 years old were randomly assigned to a treatment group while completing a 6-month walking program (30-60 min/day, 5-6 days/week).
    • Flaxseed lignan (543 mg/day in a 4050 mg complex)
    • Placebo
  • Changes in fasting blood sugar, triglycerides, HDL (good) cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, total cholesterol, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha were measured every 2 months.
  • Body composition, bone mineral density, and resting blood pressure were assessed at 6 months.
  • Changes in the composite Z score of 6 risk factors for metabolic syndrome (fasting blood sugar, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, abdominal adiposity, blood pressure, and inflammatory cytokines) was calculated at 6 months.

And, the results.

  • Men taking placebo increased metabolic syndrome composite Z scores significantly, but there were no changes in the other groups.
  • Men taking flaxseed lignan decreased their diastolic blood pressure relative to men taking placebo.
  • Men taking placebo had increasing triglyceride levels relative to men taking flax lignan.
  • There were no differences between groups for bone measures, body composition, lipoproteins, or cytokines.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Males taking the flaxseed lignan complex reduced metabolic syndrome score relative to men taking placebo, but a similar trend was not seen in females. Flaxseed lignan had no effect on bone mineral density or content, body composition, lipoproteins, glucose, or inflammation.”

6/3/09 22:05 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.