Flax Seed And Lignans

Breast Cancer

Flax seeds contain a natural compound called lignans (plant-derived antioxidants). When we eat flaxseed, bacteria in our gut convert these plant lignans to human lignans, which look very much like estrogen in the body. Once in the body, these compounds called phytoestrogens have a weak estrogen action and they are able to bind to estrogen receptors. In doing so, they appear to block the action of our body’s own estrogen on breast cells.

Lilian Thompson, a professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, is a world-renowned researcher in the area of lignans. In one of her studies published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, women with newly diagnosed breast cancer who consumed a daily muffin containing 25 grams, two tablespoons, of flax seed had a significant reduction in tumour growth compared with those who ate muffins containing no seeds.

When the tumours were removed, the researchers found that the women who had received the flax seed muffins had slower-growing tumours than the others. These exciting findings suggest that a daily intake of flax seed might offer protection from breast cancer.

According to the researchers, the effect of the flax on the cancerous cells was comparable with that seen using chemotherapy, with no side effects. But much more research is needed before women go for flax before any traditional treatments.

Try the following muffin recipe with 25 g of flax seed each or add 2 heaping tablespoons (25 g) of ground flax seed mixed into your favourite yogurt.

The Prevention Test Kitchen staff created this recipe so that each muffin would contain 25 grams of flax seed. Muffins can be frozen for use as needed. Be sure to allow for fat content in your daily fat budget. Per muffin: 246 calories, 13.7 g fat, 105 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 25 g flax seed.

1 1/4 cup Highwood Crossing Organic All-Purpose Flour
2 3/4 cup Highwood Crossing Organic Flax Seed*
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 to 1/2 cup light molasses
3/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup light-flavored olive oil
1/2 cup egg substitute

*grind 2 cups + 1 tablespoon whole flax seed until flax seed resembles fine cornmeal

Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk together flour, flax seed and baking powder. Stir together molasses, milk, oil, and egg substitute. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Pour into greased muffin pans. Bake about 18 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

Estrogen

Preliminary research suggests that lignans may also help ease the symptoms of problems related to premenstrual stress and menopause by stabilizing fluctuating estrogen levels. When there is little estrogen in the body (menopause), lignans may act like weak estrogens. However, when natural estrogen is abundant in the body, lignans may instead reduce estrogen’s effects.

 

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