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Compounds Abundant in Flax Seeds May Have Weight Loss Benefits for Women

A study published online ahead of the February 2009 print edition of the British Journal of Nutrition found a link between higher lignan consumption and lower body mass index (BMI) and body fat among women.

Lignans are a type of plant polyphenol abundant in flax seeds, whole grain foods, fruits and vegetables. They are one of the major classes of phytoestrogens which are estrogen like chemicals that act as antioxidants inside the body.

Previous research has shown that lignan metabolites (lignans that are metabolized by bacteria in the colon) may reduce the risk of certain cancers, reduce inflammatory markers and ease menopausal symptoms.

For the study, researchers from the University Laval in Quebec, Canada recruited 115 post-menopausal women with an average age of 57. Each participant filled out a 3 day dietary recall questionnaire so that researchers could establish their lignan intake.

The participant's waist circumference, body mass and insulin sensitivity were also measured and blood samples were taken to analyze levels of a lignan metabolite called enterolactone.

The researchers found that compared to women with the lowest lignan intake, those with the highest had a 4 kg/m² lower BMI. Those with the highest lignan intake also had an average of almost 19 pounds less body fat than those with the lowest levels.

Additionally, higher blood levels of enterolactones were associated with better glucose disposal rates and lower blood sugar levels.

This study adds to a small but growing body of research that shows lignans may have important health benefits.

If you're looking to lose weight, research has shown that in addition to lignans, drinking green tea, cutting back on sodas and sugary juices, eating a high protein breakfast and maintaining a food diary can also help.
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