Lignans Health Benefits

Lignans are bioactive compounds found in nature that exhibit various biological properties, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antitumor activities. They are also considered to be phytoestrogens due to their steroid-analogous chemical structure.

As antioxidants, lignans help stop free radicals from damaging cells and slow down the aging process to improve overall health. As phytoestrogens, mimic the action of estrogen hormones and help balance the hormone levels in the body.

Lignan-Rich Foods Sources

Many seeds, grains, fruits, and vegetables are rich in lignans, including flax, rye, barley, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, broccoli, and berries. However, flax seeds have the highest concentration of plant lignans of any fruits or vegetables.

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Flaxseed has up to 800 times more lignans than other plant sources, like whole grains and legumes. Also, only flax has SDG, or secoisolariciresinol diglucoside. This is the main plant lignan linked to preventing breast cancer and treating Cushing’s disease in dogs.

Flax husk lignans are becoming increasingly popular as a dietary supplement due to their high fiber and phytoestrogen content. When flax lignans are digested, gut bacteria convert them into mammalian lignans (Enterolactone (ENL) and Enterodiol (END), which have antioxidant and estrogenic properties.

The Many Health Benefits Of Lignans

Lignans are getting a lot of positive press at the moment, but not many people fully understand just how important these compounds are. Plant lignans benefit numerous aspects of human health. Adding this compound to your diet can help you live a better, fuller life.

01 Antioxidant Protection

Antioxidants are chemicals that help protect cells from damage by free radicals and, by extension, help the immune system function better. They protect against oxidative stress, which has been linked to cancer, atherosclerosis, and vision loss due to age-related muscle degeneration.

Lignans have a higher antioxidant (ORAC) value than any other fruit or vegetable published in the USDA database. See Orac Chart. The antioxidant properties of plant lignans like SDG are also beneficial in helping ease inflammation-related health problems such as joint and muscle pains.

02 Hormonal Balance

Lignans are excellent for balancing hormone levels in the body.

In women, they help balance estrogen levels, which prevent naturally occurring (and sometimes radical) hormones from binding to estrogen receptors and exerting their negative effects.

In men, lignans help balance the testosterone-DHT relationship and inhibit certain enzymes needed to convert testosterone to DHT. This results in lower DHT levels, which may improve prostate health and help maintain testosterone levels.

03 Cholesterol Levels

A study on lignans was done by the Internal Medicine Division at UC Davis. The results of this study, which included 37 men and women, showed that high-lignan flax was significantly more effective than regular flax in reducing cholesterol and Ox-LDL. Inflammation brought on by this bad cholesterol increases the danger of a stroke or heart attack. This research suggests that the lignans in flaxseed are responsible for its cholesterol- and LDL-lowering effects. Read the full report found on the US government’s National Institute of Health website at this link:

To read more about lignans and healthy cholesterol levels, click here.

04 Sugar Levels and Diabetes

Flaxseeds are an excellent source of insoluble fiber. It takes a long time to digest and break down fiber, which in turn slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream.

Lignans are also well-known for their beneficial effects on heart health and blood sugar levels. According to a study published in the journal PLOS One, participants with type-2 diabetes who took flaxseed lignans for 12 weeks saw an improvement in their hemoglobin A1c levels. Other studies also claim that daily consumption of 10 to 20 grams of flaxseed powder significantly reduces blood sugar levels.

05 Cardiovascular Health

Lignans are phytoestrogens, or plant-based compounds with oestrogen-like properties. Oestrogen is thought to have cardioprotective properties, which means that it can lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, which is good for the cardiovascular system.

In a prospective cohort study of 1,889 Finnish men followed for an average of 12 years, those with the highest serum enterolactone levels (a marker of plant lignan intake) were significantly less likely to suffer from coronary heart disease (CHD) or cardiovascular disease than those with the lowest levels. (Source: Linus Pauling Institute)

06 Digestive System and Colon Health

Lignan-rich foods are high in fiber, which helps with digestion, cleans the colon, and removes toxins from the body.

Flaxseed, the richest source of mammalian lignan precursors, such as secoisolariciresinol glycoside (SDG), has been shown over the short term to decrease some early markers of colon health risk. Click the following link to read more about this study and other studies on Better Colon Health.

Lignans And Women’s Health

07 Ovarian and Uterine Health

Lignans have anti-estrogenic properties that mimic estrogen and bind to estrogen receptors, but they do not have the same antagonistic effects as estrogen. Plant estrogens are a cleaner form of estrogen, and when more plant lignans are consumed, more normally occurring (endogenous) estrogen is flushed out of the body. It is believed that this is one of the mechanisms behind better ovarian and uterine health.

08 Breast Health

Studies have shown that women with high levels of lignans in their bodies, as measured from urine and/or blood samples, may have better breast health. As such, it is believed that lignans may decrease the risk of breast cancer in women and reduce the spread and growth of breast cancer after diagnosis.

Read more about lignans and better breast health here.

09 Hot Flashes and Menopause

A Mayo Clinic study shows that “lignans provide a more natural estrogen treatment for menopause and hot flashes than synthetic hormone therapy and therefore are a potentially healthier treatment for both.” Sandhya Pruthi, MD. Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Published February 1, 2008.

Read more about lignans and menopause relief here.

Lignans And Men’s Health

10 Prostate Health

Another study found that vegetarian men (with diets high in plant lignans) have better prostate health than omnivorous males. Plant lignans give rise to the mammalian lignans enterodiol and enterolactone; the richest source is linseed (flaxseed).

Click the link to read more about Better Prostate Health.

11 Hair Health

SA case study showed that the plant lignans in flaxseed oil could help to inhibit the production of the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT—the hormone responsible for hair loss. Thus, people with high amounts of lignans in their bodies have better hair health.

Read more about lignans and hair health here.

Benefits Of Lignans For Dogs

Plant lignans are not only beneficial to human health but to the health of man’s best friend, as well. However, the dog food you buy from the store doesn’t contain lignans; you must add them to your dog’s diet yourself.

If you want to keep your furry friend healthy, lignans can certainly help you with that!

01 Canine Cushing’s Disease

When lignans and melatonin are taken together, they can lower the amount of steroid hormones like cortisol in the body. This is extremely beneficial for dogs with Cushing’s syndrome.

Cushing’s disease (or hyperadrenocorticism) is an endocrine disorder characterized by elevated cortisol levels resulting from dysfunctional adrenal glands. It typically affects older dogs and is difficult to diagnose because it resembles other diseases or is attributed to old age.

Dr. Jack Oliver, DVM, Ph.D., issued a report in 2009 indicating that flaxseed lignans may be a good treatment for canine Cushing’s disease. A survey performed with our own customers found that 85% of participants saw Cushing’s symptoms improve in an average of 2 months.

Click here to see more on canine Cushing’s disease treatment.

02 Dog Diabetes

Diabetes and Cushing’s disease coexist in dogs because cortisol affects blood sugar. This implies that elevated cortisol levels are usually accompanied by elevated blood sugar levels.

Cushing’s disease can result in lifelong diabetes if it is left untreated. Vets recommend lignans with melatonin to stop the overproduction of cortisol, which will help stabilize blood sugar levels.

03 Gut Health

A healthy gut microbiome helps keep inflammation under control and fight chronic diseases. Combining probiotics for dogs with lignans and other supplements can be very good for dogs’ gut health.

When probiotics are mixed with lignan (SDG) and melatonin, these compounds are absorbed better. This helps your dog’s body suppress adrenal cortisol production and restore the balance of corticosteroid imbalances.

A balanced microbiome gives your dog greater vitality. And the benefits are even greater for a dog with Cushing’s disease.

04 Joint Health

Dog supplements that contain long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are known for supporting dog joint health. Flaxseed contains essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 or alpha linolenic acid (ALA).

ALAs contribute to cell function and cell membrane structure, which boost the health of your dog’s skin and coat. ALA also help reduce inflammation, benefiting joint health and helping prevent or alleviate dog arthritis.

05 Canine Alopecia X

Alopecia X is a skin disorder in which a dog begins to lose hair and the fur stops growing—but without any inflammation or itching. The areas of the skin without hair also become darker (gray or black in color).

This condition is usually observed in neutered or spayed dogs, but can also affect those that are not. For the treatment of canine alopecia X, veterinarians suggest flex husk (SDG) lignans, and melatonin.

* Lignans are found to have no side-effects and safe to be a part of the regular dietary regimen for dogs. Still, we recommend discussing this decision with your vet first.