Flax Lignans: Women's Health, Men's Health
Article by Don Goldberg
Women’s Health, Men’s Health
This is an excerpt from The Willner Window radio program, originally airing August 22, 2004 on WOR Radio (710 AM)
Arnie: Good afternoon everyone, this is .... Welcome to The Willner Window. For those of you who might be first-time listeners, the focus of this show is nutritional supplements–vitamins, herbs, homeopathic remedies–and their proper usage. With me this afternoon is . .
OK, we are going to start off today's program with a discussion of lignans–specifically, lignans from flax seed.
Don: Now we briefly mentioned flax seed last week, when we were talking about fish oils and essential fatty acids. We gave you some reasons why fish oil, with pre-formed EPA/DHA might be preferred over flax seed oil.
The fact is that some of the other components of flax seed–rather than flax seed oil–might be of more benefit.
Arnie: Flax seed not only contains the oil, which is pressed out of the seed and sold alone–as flax seed oil, or linseed oil–but flax seed also contains fiber and lignans.
Fiber, of course, is good for you. We all know that, but the fiber from flax seed isn't all that different from the fiber from other plant sources. With lignans, however, it's a different story. Flax seed is from 75 to 800 times richer in plant lignans than any other plant source.
Don: OK, so we are making a big deal about how rich flaxseed is in lignan content. But who cares? What is the big deal with lignans? Why is it so important?
Arnie: Well, here's why. Lignans are a type of phytochemical that is, as we already pointed out, abundant in flaxseed. Lignans have strong antioxidant properties. They inhibit certain enzymes, and function as phytoestrogens.
Don: Now before we explain why this is so beneficial to our health, I want to quickly point out one of the problems with lignan terminology and product labeling. There are actually two types of lignans–those found in plants and those found in mammals. The plant lignans, called for short, SDG, get converted in the body by colon bacteria into the active, mammalian lignans enterodiol and enterolactone.
Arnie: We mentioned that lignans function as antioxidants. Well, according to published research, the plant form of flax lignan, SDG, is about 2.3 times more powerful than vitamin E. But the mammalian forms of lignan, enterodiol and enterolactone, are between 4.3 to 5 times more powerful than vitamin E.
Don: OK, so lignans have antioxidant property. They also function as phytoestrogens and enzyme inhibitors. This is probably more significant than their antioxidant function.
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