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Lignans: The key to cardiovascular health

Linum Narbonense (blue flax) plant
Linum Narbonense (blue flax) plant
Creative commons / Google images

Oatmeal and other high fiber-containing foods have long been held as the cornerstone of a heart healthy diet, and rightly so, but if you’re looking for a powerful alternative to the same old approach, lignans are the answer.

What are lignans and where are they found?

Lignans are a chemical compound found in plants (predominantly in flaxseed). Flaxseed contains all the benefits of oatmeal and fiber, which helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and improve cardiovascular health, but what makes this nutrient a powerhouse is that it also offers the benefits of ALA (alpha-Linolenic acid), an essential omega-3 fatty acid which protects against strokes, heart attacks and cancer. Lignans also have an extremely high antioxidant (ORAC) value.

A diet rich in lignans not only improves cardiovascular health, but has also been linked to weight loss, healthier skin and nails due to protein content, improved digestive health and cancer prevention.

Flax seeds are easy to eat and a small serving of 2 tbsps a day is enough to reap such large scale benefits. It is important to note, however, that despite what TV cooking shows may present, sprinkling whole flax seeds on your dishes will not yield any benefits, as the seeds will pass undigested through your system. Flaxseed should be cold-milled in order to maximize the benefits that it has to offer.