J Nutr, 2015, Volume 145; Issue 4: Pages 749-57.

Dietary Flaxseed Independently Lowers Circulating Cholesterol and Lowers It beyond the Effects of Cholesterol-Lowering Medications Alone in Patients with Peripheral Artery Disease

Edel, AL. Rodriguez-Leyva, D. Maddaford, TG. Caligiuri, SP. Austria, JA. Weighell, W. Guzman, R. Aliani, M. et al

Key Findings:

This research assessed the ability of flaxseed to effect serum lipids in a population with peripheral arterial disease and those on cholesterol-lowering drugs. After one month, flaxseed lowered total and LDL cholesterol by 15% in the patients with PAD. In a subset of this group on statins, LDL was lowered by greater than 8%. The authors note that a 10% decrease in total or LDL cholesterol would be predicted to result a clinically significant reductions myocardial infarctions and stroke.


BACKGROUND: Dietary flaxseed lowers cholesterol in healthy subjects with mild biomarkers of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

OBJECTIVE: The aim was to investigate the effects of dietary flaxseed on plasma cholesterol in a patient population with clinically significant CVD and in those administered cholesterol-lowering medications (CLMs), primarily statins.

METHODS: This double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trial examined the effects of a diet supplemented for 12 mo with foods that contained either 30 g of milled flaxseed [milled flaxseed treatment (FX) group; n = 58] or 30 g of whole wheat [placebo (PL) group; n = 52] in a patient population with peripheral artery disease (PAD). Plasma lipids were measured at 0, 1, 6, and 12 mo.

RESULTS: Dietary flaxseed in PAD patients resulted in a 15% reduction in circulating LDL cholesterol as early as 1 mo into the trial (P = 0.05). The concentration in the FX group (2.1 ± 0.10 mmol/L) tended to be less than in the PL group (2.5 ± 0.2 mmol/L) at 6 mo (P = 0.12), but not at 12 mo (P = 0.33). Total cholesterol also tended to be lower in the FX group than in the PL group at 1 mo (11%, P = 0.05) and 6 mo (11%, P = 0.07), but not at 12 mo (P = 0.24). In a subgroup of patients taking flaxseed and CLM (n = 36), LDL-cholesterol concentrations were lowered by 8.5% ± 3.0% compared with baseline after 12 mo. This differed from the PL + CLM subgroup (n = 26), which increased by 3.0% ± 4.4% (P = 0.030) to a final concentration of 2.2 ± 0.1 mmol/L. Conclusions: Milled flaxseed lowers total and LDL cholesterol in patients with PAD and has additional LDL-cholesterol-lowering capabilities when used in conjunction with CLMs. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00781950.

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