Supplementation With Flaxseed Oil Versus Sunflowerseed Oil in Healthy Young Men Consuming a Low Fat Diet: Effects on Platelet Composition and Function

Eur J Clin Nutr. 1995 Mar;49(3):169-78.


Objective: To compare the effects of supplementing a low fat diet with an alpha-linolenic acid-rich (C18:3 n-3) oil with a linoleic acid-rich (C18:2 n-6) oil on platelet composition and function.

Design: Prospective study with random allocation to one of the two oils.

Setting: Free-living study.

Subjects: Eleven healthy young males recruited from within the University.

Interventions: Subjects were allocated to consume 40 g of either flaxseed oil (n = 5) or sunflowerseed oil (n = 6) daily for 23 days. Fasting blood samples were collected at commencement and completion of supplementation for analysis of platelet fatty acids and platelet aggregation.

Results: The platelet eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) more than doubled in the group taking flaxseed oil (P < 0.05) but was unchanged in the sunflowerseed group. As a result the platelet EPA:arachidonic acid ratio, considered a marker for thromboxane production and platelet aggregation potential, increased in the flaxseed group (P < 0.05). The aggregation response induced by 0.75 and 2 micrograms of collagen was decreased in those taking flaxseed oil (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: This study provides further evidence that consumption of alpha-linolenic acid-rich oils may offer protective effects against cardiovascular disease over linoleic acid-rich oils via their ability to decrease the tendency of platelets to aggregate.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arachidonic Acid / metabolism
  • Blood Platelets / drug effects*
  • Blood Platelets / metabolism*
  • Blood Platelets / physiology
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted*
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / administration & dosage*
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / metabolism
  • Energy Intake*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / metabolism
  • Food, Fortified*
  • Humans
  • Linseed Oil / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage*
  • Platelet Aggregation / drug effects
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / administration & dosage*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sunflower Oil
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / metabolism


  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Plant Oils
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
  • Sunflower Oil
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Linseed Oil
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid
  • docosapentaenoic acid