February 08, 2016 Flaxseed and Heart Disease

Source: Linda Gilmour Kessler, RD   |  Category: Health & Nutrition

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Canada and the United States. There are many things you can do to lower your risk of heart disease:
•    Know your blood pressure and keep it under control
•    Know your cholesterol and triglyceride levels and keep them under control
•    Exercise regularly 
•    Don't smoke 
•    Get tested for diabetes and if you have it, keep it under control
•    Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables 
•    Maintain a healthy weight

The Role of Flaxseed in Preventing Heart Disease
Flaxseed can promote heart health by lowering total cholesterol levels and LDL cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and protecting the blood vessels from damaging inflammation. Flaxseed contains omega-3 fatty acids and soluble fibre – components that are known to protect against heart disease. 

Flaxseed Health Claim
Health Canada has approved a health claim for flaxseed based on evidence that linked ground (milled) whole flaxseed with reductions in blood cholesterol. Flaxseed decreases total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels enough to significantly reduce the death rate from heart disease by 8.5%.

The health claim states that eating 5 Tbsp. (75 mL) of ground (milled) whole flaxseed per day over three meals helps reduce cholesterol.  
Other permitted health claims for ground flaxseed include:
•    16 g (2 tablespoons) (30 mL) of ground flaxseed supplies 40% of the daily amount shown to help lower cholesterol 
•    Ground (whole) flaxseed helps reduce/lower cholesterol
•    High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease 
•    Ground (whole) flaxseed helps reduce/lower cholesterol, (which is) a risk factor for heart disease 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Flaxseed contains heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids that may help lower blood pressure and heart rate, decrease blood clotting, improve blood vessel function, lower triglycerides and lower inflammation. 

Soluble Fibre
Flaxseed is a good source of total dietary fibre, containing 2 g of fibre per tablespoon (15 mL). Flaxseed contains a high amount of soluble dietary fibre that may help to lower serum cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation to reduce the risk of heart disease.

There are many things you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease.  Healthy eating, active living, having a healthy weight, not smoking and keeping health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes under control are all important to protecting your heart. Including ground flaxseed as part of your healthy eating plan is an easy way to help protect your heart!

1. HealthyFlax.org
2. Flaxseed Health Claim http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/label-etiquet/claims-reclam/assess-evalu/flaxseed-graines-de-lin-eng.php 
3. The Cardiovascular Effects of Flaxseed and Its Omega-3 Fatty Acid, Alpha-Linolenic Acid http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989356/