Whole flaxseed is the form most commonly investigated in lipid-lowering studies, because the high fibre content and ALA appear to act synergistically, whereas there are few studies using FSO. Those that have been conducted with FSO have produced conflicting results with an almost 50/50 weighting of research showing no effect or a positive one. At worst FSO has resulted in increases in fasting triacylglycerol concentrations and lower HDL-cholesterol (Bemelmans et al 2002, Finnegan et al 2003, Wilkinson et al 2005) and at best it has been described in earlier studies as having comparable effects with bio-equivalent doses of fish oils (Harris 1997, Singer et al 1986). The reality probably lies somewhere in between; however, further investigation is required. The results of the small study of 57 men by Wilkinson et al (2005), who substituted 45 g of fat per day with 1 5 g/day ALA derived from FSO over 12 weeks adds to the puzzle. While confirming the mixed cardiovascular effects noted above, this treatment group also demonstrated a reduction of total cholesterol by 12.3% in comparison to a reduction of 7.3% in the group receiving equivalent LA.
The same equivocal trend is evident from studies assessing the effects of FSO on lipoproteins. Zhao's trial (2004) using an ALA-enriched diet showed that this change resulted in a reduction in apololipoproteins A1 and B, the latter by almost 10%.
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