Flaxseed improves lipid profile without altering biomarkers of bone metabolism in postmenopausal women

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Apr;87(4):1527-32. doi: 10.1210/jcem.87.4.8374.


The risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis drastically increases at the onset of menopause. Phytoestrogens have been suggested to inhibit bone loss and protect the cardiovascular system, in part by improving lipid profiles. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of flaxseed, a rich source of the phytoestrogens called lignans, on lipid metabolism and biomarkers of bone turnover in postmenopausal women. Postmenopausal women who were not on hormone replacement therapy were assigned to one of two treatment groups in a double-blind randomized study. Women were asked to consume 40 g of either ground flaxseed or wheat-based comparative control regimen daily for 3 months. In addition, all subjects received 1,000 mg calcium and 400 IU vitamin D daily. Flaxseed supplementation lowered (P < 0.05) both serum total cholesterol and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol by 6%, whereas the comparative control regimen had no such effect. Flaxseed regimen reduced serum levels of both low-density- and high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol by 4.7% and triglyceride by 12.8%, albeit not statistically significant. Serum apolipoprotein A-1 and apolipoprotein B concentrations were significantly (P < 0.005) reduced by 6 and 7.5%, respectively, by the flaxseed regimen. Markers of bone formation and resorption were not affected by either of the treatments. The findings of this study indicate that flaxseed supplementation improves lipid profiles but has no effect on biomarkers of bone metabolism in postmenopausal women.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Apolipoprotein A-I / blood
  • Apolipoproteins B / blood
  • Biomarkers
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Flax*
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause / metabolism*
  • Seeds*
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Triticum


  • Apolipoprotein A-I
  • Apolipoproteins B
  • Biomarkers
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Lipids
  • Triglycerides