Experimental and clinical research findings on the cardiovascular benefits of consuming flaxseed

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2009 Oct;34(5):965-74. doi: 10.1139/H09-087.


Functional foods and nutraceuticals are becoming popular alternatives to pharmacological treatments by providing health benefits and (or) reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Flaxseed is a rich source of 3 components with demonstrated cardioprotective effects: the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), dietary fibre, and phytoestrogen lignans. Multiple clinical dietary intervention trials report that consuming flaxseed daily can modestly reduce circulating total cholesterol (TC) by 6%-11% and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by 9%-18% in normolipemic humans and by 5%-17% for TC and 4%-10% for LDL cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic patients, as well as lower various markers associated with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in humans. Evidence to date suggests that the dietary fibre and (or) lignan content of flaxseed provides the hypocholesterolemic action. The omega-3 ALA found in the flaxseed oil fraction also contributes to the antiatherogenic effects of flaxseed via anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative mechanisms. Dietary flaxseed may also protect against ischemic heart disease by improving vascular relaxation responses and by inhibiting the incidence of ventricular fibrillation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Flax*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension
  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • Lipids / blood
  • Mice


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • Lipids