secret of flax uncovered

Doug Skrecky (
Fri, 3 Jul 1998 20:49:20 -0700 (PDT)

>From the August 7,1996 edition of the Globe & Mail newspaper
By Wallace Immen Medical Reporter

A Saskatchewan researcher has identified the component of flaxseed that reduces the risk of hardening of the arteries. While studies have shown that flaxseed in the diet reduces risk to the arteries, humans would have to eat 1.5 grams a day for each kilogram they weigh to get maximum benefits. Kailash Prasad of the University of Saskatchewan's college of medicine found that a tiny fraction of the seed, a compound known as SDG (secoisolariciresinol diglucoside), is the artery-aiding material.
When animals on high cholesterol diets were fed only 10 milligrams of SDG per kilogram, it reduced the formation of fatty deposits in their arteries by 73 per cent.
"This does not negate the value of flaxseed in the diet," Dr. Prasad said. Animals in another group fed large amounts of whole seed had a 46-per-cent reduction in the deposits, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.
In another experiment, Dr. Prasad found that rats fed SDG did not develop diabetes even after attempts to induce it. He suggests SDG may also have an effect in preventing development of diabetes in humans. "Most of the effect of SDG is from something other than cholesterol lowering," he said. In fact, in animals fed whole seed, levels of cholesterol actually increased. The compound's main effect appears to be its ability to remove free radicals of oxygen, which are known to damage cells and have been shown to increase development of atherosclerosis. The research, supported by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Saskatchewan, has been submitted to a journal for publication. The compound is not yet available commercially. The complex process to remove SDG from flax meal was developed by scientists at the federal Agriculture and Agrifood Canada laboratory in Saskatoon.

Additional note by poster:

Flax oil does not have SDG in it. Flaxmeal/skim milk makes an enjoyable morning meal. It thickens up much like porridge, but without the need for heating. Flaxmeal goes rancid rapidly at room temperature (which might have something to do with its lack of popularity). Fresh flaxmeal tastes wonderful. It keeps well if stored in the freezer.