Flaxseed oil contains chemical compounds called lignans, which are plant estrogens that help control blood sugar, improve insulin sensitivity, lower cholesterol and feature antioxidant qualities. That makes flaxseed a contender in the fight against obesity, diabetes and some cancers. The concentration of lignans extracted from flaxseed is about 100 times what most other foods can produce. Taking flaxseed oil capsules enables you to get the obesity-related benefits of flaxseed without the taste of the oil.
Contained within flaxseed oil capsules is a substance called secoisolariciresinol diglucoside, or SDG. Japanese researchers note that SDG reduced visceral fat in obese mice and they’re hopeful it works that way in people. Visceral fat is fat buried deep in your belly, and it’s a major factor that predisposes you to heart disease. SDG also reduced the fat accumulating around the mice’s livers. Moreover, the flaxseed feed reduced excess fatty tissue in their blood. Their findings, published in the September 2008 “British Journal of Nutrition,” suggest that taking a flaxseed supplement can alter the activity of genes responsible for helping blood sugar get converted to body fat.
Blood Sugar Control
US Department of Agriculture researchers, reporting in the “American Journal of Clinical Research” said some studies show promise in flaxseed supplements helping to control blood sugar. Controlling blood sugar is a major issue for diabetics, whose conditions are exacerbated by obesity. For example, women taking flaxseed supplements lowered their body’s blood sugar response to a meal by 27 percent.
Improved Insulin Sensitivity
Flaxseed supplements may affect the way your pancreas produces insulin, which helps regulate your blood sugar. Obese people who are diabetic may experience insulin resistance, which means they can have too much blood sugar circulating in their bodies. In the mice studies, eating flaxseed caused them to produce more adiponectin, a hormone responsible for both fat and blood sugar metabolism. The flaxseed also helped reduce the damage to cells associated with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
In another animal study, research reported in the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition” found that consuming flaxseed oil lowers blood cholesterol by more than 20 percent in lean rats, but by more than 40 percent in obese rats. It also reduced their level of blood-circulating triglycerides. The authors also recommended more research in people given the significant benefits found in their experiments.
Adding ground flaxseed to your recipes may be the most optimal way to achieve the weight-related benefits of flaxseed. Flaxseed oil is created through expeller pressing. The USDA researchers, however, say that modern flaxseed processing techniques tend to deplete flaxseed grains of much of their lignan content. This is because the outer fiber layer is usually removed. That fiber, however, usually has the highest concentration of substances that are precursors to lignan. Some flaxseed oil manufacturers claim to use a process that retains lignan particulates and thus some capsules may have a higher concentration of lignans than others. Ask your doctor to recommend a specific brand of supplement.
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Beneficial Role of Dietary Phytoestrogens in Obesity and Diabetes
- British Journal of Nutrition: Flaxseed Lignan Attenuates High-Fat Diet-Induced Fat Accumulation and Induces Adiponectin Expression
- JACN: Dietary Flaxseed Meal is More Protective than Soy Protein Concentrate Against Hypertriglyceridemia and Steatosis
- British Journal of Nutrition:Flaxseed Oil Prevents trans-10, cis-12-Conjugated Linoleic Acid-Induced Insulin Resistance in Mice
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Flaxseed Oil and Fish-Oil Capsule Consumption Alters Human Red Blood Cell N-3 Fatty Acid Composition
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.