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Flaxseeds May Help Manage Metabolic Syndrome

Looks can be deceiving: flaxseeds may be small, but they’re packed with fiber and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, menopause symptoms, and some cancers. Now a study adds to that list, finding that, when paired with certain lifestyle changes and exercise, consuming flaxseeds could help people manage metabolic syndrome—a group of conditions that occur together, including high blood pressure, insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Published in Phytotherapy Research, the study included 44 patients, ages 18 to 70, with metabolic syndrome. For the 12-week trial, the patients were randomly divided into two groups: the first group, acting as a control group, was given only lifestyle guidance that included engaging in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five times a week; the second group, acting as the treatment group, was given the same lifestyle guidance plus 30 grams per day of ground brown flaxseeds, which they were instructed to eat with salad for lunch or dinner. At the beginning of the study and at three clinic visits during the twelve weeks, researchers evaluated the patients for measures of metabolic syndrome such as body weight, waist circumference, insulin resistance, and blood pressure. At the end of the study, they found:

  • Markers of metabolic syndrome improved in both groups; however, a greater proportion of participants in the flaxseed group no longer had metabolic syndrome at the end of the study: the incidence of metabolic syndrome decreased by 82% in the flaxseed group and by 50% in the control group.
  • Specifically, the flaxseed group had greater reductions in body weight, waist circumference, and insulin resistance than the control group, but neither group had significant reductions in blood pressure.

Although previous studies have conflicting results, the findings from this study suggest that flaxseeds may help improve the health of those with metabolic syndrome. However, because this study was performed without a placebo, more research is needed to confirm its findings. If you want to add flaxseeds to your diet, it’s as easy as stirring a spoonful of ground flaxseeds into your cereal or yogurt in the morning. You may also find whole or ground flaxseeds as an ingredient in baked goods, but remember that whole flaxseeds have different properties than ground flaxseeds. If you’re taking any medications, be sure to talk with your doctor before heaping them on your food, as certain drugs may not play well with them.

Source: Phytotherapy Research

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