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Flaxseed - High Intakes of Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases
Flax Council of Canada
Populations with high intakes of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)* have a low risk of cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke. ALA is an essential omega-3 fatty acid found mainly in plants flaxseed, for example, is the richest source of ALA in the North American diet. ALA is the precursor of the long chain omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

It has been known since the 1970s that native fishing populations in Greenland, Japan and Alaska have low rates of CHD, despite eating a high-fat diet. Their low CHD risk is associated with their high intake of EPA and DHA from marine fish and mammals. (Fish contain only trace amounts of ALA.)

These long-chain omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce blood triglycerides, increase blood HDL-cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, reduce platelet reactivity and reduce neutrophil activity—all actions that help lower CHD risk. ALA also offers protective effects against both CHD and stroke, and its effects appear to be distinct from those of EPA and DHA.
Tags: Flax, Flax seed, Flaxseed, Health Benefits, Omega 3, essential fatty acids, omega EFAs