Can You Use Flaxseed Oil for High Cholesterol?

bottle of flaxseed oil soft gels for cholesterol

Do you have high cholesterol and looking for natural ways to lower it?

According to the Mayo Clinic, the Top 5 ways to naturally lower cholesterol includes exercising, losing weight, avoiding alcohol, quit smoking and eating a health diet.

The healthy diet part involves avoiding dangerous trans-fats and increasing your dietary intake of daily fiber and omega 3 fatty acids.

And it turns out that flax seeds are actually an excellent source of the omega 3 fatty acid, alpha linolenic acid (ALA).

Researchers have learned that omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to help lower inflammation, control blood pressure, and lower the risk for blood clots.

The actual hull of the flax seeds are an excellent source of fiber; a 1/4 cup of ground flax seeds provides about 7 grams of fiber. And not only that, he seeds also contain an ingredient called lignans, a phyto-estrogen with powerful anti-oxidant properties.

Now if you’re thinking of using flaxseed oil to lower high cholesterol, you may be surprised to know that ground flaxseeds can lower high cholesterol up to 17% better than flaxseed oil.

Here we’ll compare if flaxseeds may be better than flaxseed oil for lowering high cholesterol:

Ground Flaxseeds can Lower High Cholesterol by 17%

bag of ground flaxseeds for cholesterol

A study from Rome showed that eating 20 grams a day of flaxseeds (about 1 tablespoon) will reduce total cholesterol levels by 17% and triglycerides levels by 36%.

Scientists at the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre in Manitoba also looked at multiple studies on flaxseeds and flaxseed oil.

They found ground flaxseeds reduce circulating total cholesterol by 5-17% and LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol by 4-10%.

So the research appears to show that the dietary fiber and lignans in ground flaxseed causes the decrease in cholesterol.

How does this happen?

The lignans are a phyto-estrogen (plant-like estrogen) and antioxidant. The fiber mixes with bile acids in your gut and forces your liver to make more bile from cholesterol which causes your cholesterol levels to decrease.

Are High-Lignan Flaxseed Oils Effective for Lowering Cholesterol?

bottle of high-liqnan flaxseed oil for cholesterol

You can now find flaxseed oils that contain lignans. These products are usually promoted as a ‘high-lignan’ flaxseed oil.

The problem I have with some of these products is you may not be able to determine the actual amount of lignans you’re getting in the bottle of oil.

Unfortunately, most flaxseed oils I looked at had were low in fiber and lignans.

And I think this is way using a basic flaxseed oil on cholesterol may not be as effective as ground flax seeds.

Lately, it seems that some flaxseed oil manufacturers are starting to realize this and are now adding lignans to their oils. Lignans are usually added in the form of crushed flaxseeds.

But can you use a high-lignan flaxseed oil as a cholesterol-lowering agent?

I think it may be possible as long as there’s a high enough content of lignans in the oil.

But right now the lignan content isn’t regulated by the flaxseed industry, so we have no way of knowing how much lignan is actually needed to get a cholesterol-lowering effect.

So if you’re looking for a natural way to treat high cholesterol, I think you may have better success from using ground flaxseeds rather than flaxseed oil. Ground flaxseeds, like Spectrum Naturals Ground Flaxseeds may provide more cholesterol-lowering effects due to the lignans and fiber.

And  there are other healthy oils you may use for high cholesterol. For example, one of the benefits of coconut oil is it’s reported to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. And you could also try using krill oil or fish oils to lower unhealthy cholesterol levels.

Research References:

Flaxseed supplementation in hyperlipidemic patients. Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi. 2005 Jul-Sep;109(3):502-6. Popa University of Medicine and Pharmacy Iasi, School of Medicine.

Dietary omega-3 fatty acid intake and cardiovascular risk. American Journal of Cardiology. 2006 Aug 21;98(4A):3i-18i.

Flaxseed oil increases the plasma concentrations of cardioprotective omega 3 fatty acids in humans. Journal of Nutrition. 2006 Jan;136(1):83-7.

Does alpha-linolenic acid intake reduce the risk of coronary heart disease? A review of the evidence. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 2005 May-Jun;11(3):24-30;

Effects of hempseed and flaxseed oils on the profile of serum lipids, serum total and lipoprotein lipid concentrations and haemostatic factors. Flaxseed oil cholesterol study. European Journal of Nutrition. 2006 Dec;45(8):470-7.

Beneficial effects of alpha linolenic acid rich flaxseed oil on growth performance and hepatic cholesterol metabolism in high fat diet fed rats. Life Sciences. 2006 Jun 27;79(5):448-54.

Dietary alpha-linolenic acid reduces inflammatory and lipid cardiovascular risk factors in hypercholesterolemic men and women. The Journal of Nutrition. 2004 Nov;134(11):2991-7.

Flaxseed: a source of hypocholesterolemic and antiatherogenic agents. Drug News & Perspectives. 2000 Mar;13(2):99-104.

Experimental and clinical research findings on the cardiovascular benefits of consuming flaxseed. Applid Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism. 2009 Oct;34(5):965-74.


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