Research: PRASAD and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 28


PRASAD and colleagues, Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan and Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, Saskatoon write that flaxseed Type I with 51-55% alpha-linolenic acid within its oil and the richest source of plant lignans, can reduce hypercholesterolaemic atherosclerosis by 46% without lowering serum lipids. This antiatherogenic activity was supposedly due to its alpha-linolenic acid and/or lignan content. Therefore, if the alpha-linolenic acid component of flaxseed were responsible for its antiatherogenic properties, then CDC-flaxseed Type II, with similar oil and lignan content but very little alpha-linolenic content would have no antiatherogenic effect.



The authors investigated, in rabbits, the effects of Type II flaxseed upon high cholesterol diet-induced atherosclerosis and serum lipids (total cholesterol (TC), triglycerides (TG), high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL-C. Rabbits were assigned to one of 4 groups: 1) Control; 2) Type II flaxseed diet (7.5 g/kg orally daily); 3) 1% cholesterol diet; 4) 1% cholesterol diet supplemented with Type II flaxseed (7.5 g/kg orally daily). Blood was taken prior to and following 4 and 8 weeks of experimental diets for measurement of serum lipids. Aorta was assessed after 8 weeks for assessment of atherosclerotic plaques.


Compared to Group 3, Group 4 serum levels of TC, LDL-C, TC/HDL-C and LDL-C/HDL-C were lower by 14 and 31%, 17 and 32%, 28 and 34% and 24 and 32% respectively, at 4 and 8 weeks. HDL-C was not affected by Type II flaxseed in hypercholesterolaemic rabbit. Compared to Group 3, Group 4 TG and VLDL-C were greatly increased. Type II flaxseed reduced the development of atherosclerosis by 69%. Histological changes in atherosclerotic regions were qualitatively similar in Groups 3 and 4 and data indicate that the reduction in hypercholesterolaemic atherosclerosis by Type II flaxseed is due to a reduction in serum TC and LDL-C.


The antiatherogenic activity of Type II flaxseed is not due to alpha-linolenic acid.


Prasad K et al. Reduction of hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis by CDC-flaxseed with very low alpha-linolenic acid. Atherosclerosis 136(2): 367-75. Feb 1998.

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