Summary Points

• Flax is a self-pollinating diploid plant with a karyotype of 2n = 30.

• Cultivated flax has two varieties, one grown for oil and the other for fiber, and is the sixth largest oilseed crop in the world.

• Flax seed is the most abundant plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically a-linolenic acid.

• Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for growth and development, and have been associated with health and the prevention and treatment of heart disease, arthritis, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and cancer.

• Dietary ALA in the form of flax seed oil and milled seed has been shown to raise serum n-3 PUFAs, to increase plasma ALA levels, and reduce the n-6 to n-3 PUFA ratio.

• Epidemiologic studies have shown that populations that consume high amounts of oils containing omega-3 fatty acids have lower rates of various types of cancers, including lung, breast, prostate, and colon.

• Few allergic reactions to flax have been documented, and anaphylactic reactions are rare. Byssonosis has been described following exposure to flax dust during harvesting and processing of flax, and there have been reports of asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis.

• Flax seed contains various antinutrients, including phytic acid, linatine, trypsin inhibitors, oxalates, and cyanogenic glycosides.


Allaby, R. G., Peterson, G. W., Merriwether, D. A., & Fu, Y. B. (2005). Evidence of the domestication history of flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) from genetic diversity of the sad2 locus. Theoretical and Applied Genetics, 112(1), 58—65.

Alonso, L., Marcos, M. L., Blanco, J. G., Navarro, J. A., Juste, S., del Mar Garces, M., et al. (1996). Anaphylaxis caused by linseed (flaxseed) intake. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 98(2), 469—470.

Austria, J. A., Richard, M. N., Chahine, M. N., Edel, A. L., Malcolmson, L. J., Dupasquier, C. M., et al. (2008). Bioavailability of alpha-linolenic acid in subjects after ingestion of three different forms of flaxseed. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 27(2), 214—221.

Bhatty, R. S. (1995). Nutrient composition of whole flaxseed and flaxseed meal. In S. C. Cunnane, & L. U. Thompson (Eds.), Flaxseed in human nutrition (pp. 22—42). Champaign, IL: AOCS Press.

Bond, J. M., & Hunter, J. R. (1987). Flax growing in Orkney from the Norse period to the 18th century. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 117, 175—181.

Connor, W. E. (2000). Importance of n-3 fatty acids in health and disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 71 (Suppl.1), 1715—1755.

Cunnane, S. C., Hamadeh, M. J., Liede, A. C., Thompson, L. U., Wolever, T. M., & Jenkins, D. J. (1995).

Nutritional attributes of traditional flaxseed in healthy young adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 161(1), 62—68.

Diederichsen, A., & Richards,, K. W. (2003). Cultivated flax and the genus Linum L. — taxonomy and germplasm conservation. In A. Muir, & N. Westcott (Eds.), Flax, the Genus Linum (pp. 22—54). London, UK: Taylor & Francis.

Dieken, H. A. (1992). Use of flaxseed as a source of omega-3 fatty acids in human nutrition. Proceedings of the Flaxseed Institutional, 54, 1—4.

Dillman, A. C. (1938). Natural crossing in flax. Journal of American Society Agronomy, 30, 279—286.

Dupasquier, C. M., Weber, A. M., Ander, B. P., Rampersad, P. P., Steigerwald, S., Wigle, J. T., et al. (2006). Effects of dietary flax seed on vascular contractile function and atherosclerosis during prolonged hypercholesterolemia in rabbits. American Journal of Physiology Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 291(6), H2987—2996.

Dupasquier, C. M., Dibrov, E., Kneesh, A. L., Cheung, P. K., Lee, K. G., Alexander, H. K., et al. (2007). Dietary flax seed inhibits atherosclerosis in the LDL receptor-deficient mouse in part through antiproliferative and anti-inflammatory actions. American Journal of Physiology Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 293(4), H2394— 2402.

Garg, M. L., Leitch, J., Blake, R. J., & Garg, R. (2006). Long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid incorporation into human atrium following fish oil supplementation. Lipids, 41(12), 1127—1132.

Jenkins, D. J., Kendall, C. W., Vidgen, E., Agarwal, S., Rao, A. V., Rosenberg, R. S., et al. (1999). Health aspects of partially defatted flaxseed, including effects on serum lipids, oxidative measures, and ex vivo androgen and progestin activity: a controlled crossover trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 69(3), 395—402.

Kang, J. X., & Weylandt, K. H. (2008). Modulation of inflammatory cytokines by omega-3 fatty acids. Subcellular Biochemistry, 49, 133—143.

Klosterman, H. J., Lamoureax, G. L., & Parsons, J. L. (1967). Isolation, characterization and synthesis of linatine. Biochemistry, 6, 170—175.

Klosterman, H. J. (1974). Vitamin B6 antagonists of natural origin. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 22(1), 13—16.

Lambert, J. D., Hong, J., Guang-yu, Y., Liao, J., & Yang, C. (2005). Inhibition of carcinogenesis by polyphenols: evidence from laboratory investigations. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 81 (Suppl.), 284S—291S.

Larsson, S. C., Kumlin, M., Ingelman-Sundberg, M., & Wolk, A. (2004). Dietary long-chain n-3 fatty acids for the prevention of cancer: a review of potential mechanisms. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 79(6), 935—945.

MacLean, C. H., Issa, A. M., Newberry, S. J., Mojica, W. A., Morton, S. C., Garland, R. H., et al. (2005). Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on cognitive function with aging, dementia, and neurological diseases. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 114 (Prepared by the Southern California Evidence-based Practice Center, under Contract No. 290-02-0003.) AHRQ Publication No. 05-E011-2. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Makni, M., Fetoui, H., Gargouri, N. K., el Garoui, M., Jaber, H., Makni, J., et al. (2008). Hypolipidemic and hepatoprotective effects of flax and pumpkin seed mixture rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in hyper-cholesterolemic rats. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 46(12), 3714—3720.

Mantzioris, E., James, M. J., Gibson, R. A., & Cleland, L. G. (1994). Dietary substitution with an alpha-linolenic acid-rich vegetable oil increases eicosapentaenoic acid concentrations in tissues. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 59(6), 1304—1309.

Massaro, M., Scoditti, E., Carluccio, M. A., Montinari, M. R., & De Caterina, R. (2008). Omega-3 fatty acids, inflammation and angiogenesis: nutrigenomic effects as an explanation for anti-atherogenic and antiinflammatory effects of fish and fish oils. Journal of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics, 1(1—2), 4—23.

McCarty, M. F. (1996). Fish oil may impede tumour angiogenesis and invasiveness by down-regulating protein kinase C and modulating eicosanoid production. Medical Hypotheses, 46(2), 107—115.

Micallef, M. A., & Garg, M. L. (2009). Anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective effects of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and plant sterols in hyperlipidemic individuals. Atherosclerosis, 204(2), 476—482.

Micallef, M. A., Munro, I. A., & Garg, M. L. (2009). An inverse relationship between plasma n-3 fatty acids and C-reactive protein in healthy individuals. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 63(9), 1154— 1156.

Morris, D. (2003). Flax: a health and nutrition primer. Winnipeg, Canada: Flax Council of Canada.

Muir, A., & Westcott, N. (Eds.). (2003). Flax, the Genus Linum. London, UK: Taylor & Francis.

Muthiah, R., Louthian, R., Knoll, M. T., & Kagen, S. (1995). Flaxseed-induced anaphylaxis (ANA): another cross-reactive carbohydrate food allergen. 51st Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy and Immunology, New York. Journal of Allergy Clinical Immunology, 95, 370.

Oomah, B. D., Mazza, G., & Przybylski, R. (1996). Comparison of flaxseed meal lipids extracted with different solvents. Lebensmittel-Wissenschaft and Technology, 29(7), 654—658.

Qu, H., Madl, R. L., Takemoto, D. J., Baybutt, R. C., & Wang, W. (2005). Lignans are involved in the antitumor activity of wheat bran in colon cancer SW480 cells. Journal of Nutrition, 135(3), 598—602.

Rallidis, L. S., Paschos, G., Liakos, G. K., Velissaridou, A. H., Anastasiadis, G., & Zampelas, A. (2003). Dietary alpha-linolenic acid decreases C-reactive protein, serum amyloid A and interleukin-6 in dyslipidaemic patients. Atherosclerosis, 167(2), 237—242.

Rallidis, L. S., Paschos, G., Papaioannou, M. L., Liakos, G. K., Panagiotakos, D. B., Anastasiadis, G., et al. (2004). The effect of diet enriched with alpha-linolenic acid on soluble cellular adhesion molecules in dyslipidaemic patients. Atherosclerosis, 174(1), 127—132.

Ratnayake, W. M. N., Behrens, W. A., Fischer, P. W. F., L'Abbe, M. R., Mongeau, R., & Beare-Rogers, J. L. (1992). Chemical and nutritional studies of flaxseed (variety Linott) in rats. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 3, 232—240.

Rosberg, R.J. (1996). Underexploited temperate, industrial and fiber crops. In Proceedings of the Third National

Symposium on New Crops: New Opportunities, New Technologies. Indianapolis, Indiana. 22—25 October, 1995 497

Rose, D. P., & Connolly, J. M. (1999a). Omega-3 fatty acids as cancer chemopreventive agents. Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 83(3), 217—244.

Rose, D. P., & Connolly, J. M. (1999b). Antiangiogenicity of docosahexaenoic acid and its role in the suppression of breast cancer cell growth in nude mice. International Journal of Oncology, 15(5), 1011—1015.

Rose, D. P., Connolly, J. M., Rayburn, J., & Coleman, M. (1995). Influence of diets containing eicosapentaenoic or docosahexaenoic acid on growth and metastasis of breast cancer cells in nude mice. Journal of National Cancer Institute, 87(8), 587—592.

Roseling, H. (1994). Measuring effects in humans of dietary cyanide exposure to sublethal cyanogens from cassava in Africa. Acta Horticulturae, 375, 271—283.

Russo, G. L. (2009). Dietary n-6 and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: from biochemistry to clinical implications in cardiovascular prevention. Biochemical Pharmacology, 77(6), 937—946.

Smith, H. V., & Jimmerson, J. (2005). Briefing No. 56: Flaxseed. Bozeman, MT: Agricultural Marketing Policy Center, Montana State University. at: (accessed April 5, 2010).

Stephens, G. R. (1997). A manual for fiber flax production. New Haven, CT: The Connecticut Agricultural Experimental Station.

Thies, F., Neve-Von-Caron, G., Powell, J., Yaqoob, P., Newsholme, E., & Calder, P. (2001). Dietary supplementation with eicosapentaenoic acid, but not with other long-chain n-3 or n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, decreases natural killer cell activity in healthy subjects aged more than 55 year. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 73, 539—548.

Thompson, L. U., Rickard, S. E., Orcheson, L. J., & Seidl, M. M. (1996a). Flax seed and its lignan and oil components reduce mammary tumor growth at a late stage of carcinogenesis. Carcinogenesis, 17(6), 1373—1376.

Thompson, L. U., Seidl, M. M., Rickard, S. E., Orcheson, L. J., & Fong, H. H. (1996b). Antitumorigenic effect of a mammalian lignan precursor from flaxseed. Nutrition and Cancer, 26(2), 159—165.

Toure, A., & Xueming, X. (2010). Flaxseed lignans: source, biosynthesis, metabolism, antioxidant activity, bio-active components, and health benefits. Comprehensive Reviewsin Food Science and Food Safety, 9, 261—269.

Vaisey-Genser, M., & Morris, D. H. (2003). History of the cultivation and uses of Flaxseed. Flax: The genus Linum. New York: Taylor & Francis Inc.

Wang, L., Chen, J., & Thompson, L. U. (2005). The inhibitory effect of flaxseed on the growth and metastasis of estrogen receptor negative human breast cancer xenograftsis attributed to both its lignan and oil components. International Journal of Cancer, 116(5), 793—798.

Williams, D., Verghese, M., Walker, L. T., Boateng, J., Shackelford, L., & Chawan, C. B. (2007). Flax seed oil and flax seed meal reduce the formation of aberrant crypt foci (ACF) in azoxymethane-induced colon cancer in Fisher 344 male rats. Food Chemical Toxicology, 45(1), 153—159.

Woods, V. B., & Fearon, A. M. (2009). Dietary sources of unsaturated fatty acids for animals and their transfer into meat, milk and eggs: A review. Livestock Science, 126(1—3), 1—20. Zimmerman, D. C. (1988). Flax, linseed oil and human nutrition. Proceedings of Flaxseed Institutional, 52, 30.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Health And Fitness 101

Health And Fitness 101

Self-improvement is a thing which you must practice throughout your life because once you started to believe that you are perfect then, things will start to become complex. You need to know that no one is perfect and no one can be perfect.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment