15 May 2023

Lignans for menopause: How flaxseed helps with hot flushes

Discover the benefits of lignans for menopause as specialist menopause nutritionist Emma Bardwell sheds light on how these potent phytoestrogens, derived from flaxseeds, can alleviate symptoms such as hot flushes. She also shares a handy recipe to help you get started!


What’s the deal with flaxseeds?

The menopause transition is the perfect time to re-appraise and reset certain aspects of your life. Although it can be a challenging time, with hormone fluctuations taking their toll on emotional and physical well-being, optimising your health through diet and lifestyle can be incredibly beneficial. 

Whether you go down the hormone therapy route or not, please don’t underestimate the power of nutrition. 

What you feed your body has a positive influence on how you feel, not just today, but in the future too.

Get more lignans in your life

In particular, I want to focus on flaxseeds which are the richest dietary source of lignans, a type of phytoestrogen. 

Phytoestrogens have been shown to have a mild oestrogenic effect in the body.

We still need more research to work out exactly how they work, but they appear to have the dual ability to block some oestrogen receptors and turn on others. 

What we do know is that in a 2015 meta-analysis of over 6,000 women, phytoestrogens were shown to moderately reduce the frequency of hot flushes. However, some participants seemed to benefit more than others.

According to the British Dietetic Association (BDA), consuming plant oestrogens several times a day appears to be more effective than eating in one large dose. 

It should be noted that it can take up to three months for the benefits of lignans to be seen, and their effects very much vary between individuals; we think perhaps due to different gut microbiomes and different abilities to break down and metabolise their component parts.

Heart health benefits

A number of recent randomised controlled trials have shown including flaxseeds in your diet can have several positive benefits on cardiovascular health, including significant improvements in LDL, cholesterol, blood pressure, triglycerides and markers for inflammation. 

The magic of Menoligna

The good news is it’s very easy and safe to include flaxseeds in your diet. 

The lignans are concentrated in the outer shell of the flaxseeds; grinding them, therefore, helps you to absorb the lignans better. With this in mind, always choose ground flaxseeds as opposed to flaxseed oil. 

I recommend grinding them into a fine powder using a Nutribullet or small coffee grinder to ensure absorption of the nutrients contained within the husk but also to access the omega 3 fats they contain. 

Linwoods have made life easier for us all by creating a powdered blend, Menoligna, that has been specially developed with the menopause transition in mind. 

Each 30g Menoligna serving provides 300mg of lignans, as well as key nutrients that can help manage menopause symptoms and maintain ongoing health. 

These include CoQ10, protein, calcium, iron, and magnesium, as well as vitamins D3, K2, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12. 

Easy ways to use Menoligna:

• Sprinkle on top of porridge and soups

• Blend into smoothies and shakes

• Stir into chia puddings and overnight oats

• Mix with nuts and dates to make energy balls

• Add into baking

• Use as an egg substitute (a ‘flegg’) by mixing 1 tbs flax with 3 tbs water and allowing to sit for 10 minutes

Feed your gut bugs

The immediate effects of consuming Menoligna are felt from the gut-loving fibre it contains. 

We talk about the gut microbiome being important for all aspects of health, and feeding your gut bacteria fibre really helps them thrive. 

Fibre also plays a key role in helping to lower cholesterol, so it’s important for heart health and also keeping the bowel moving nice and freely. 

Women often complain of things slowing down and feeling more constipated as they transition into menopause. 

Including two tablespoons of Menoligna into the diet daily provides 6.5g of fibre, which is almost a quarter of your recommended daily intake. 

The best start to your day

Aside from its many health benefits, Menoligna tastes great with a mild nutty flavour and can add lots of crunch and texture to meals. 

At a time when life can feel very overwhelming, and we’re often tired and overwhelmed, Menoligna provides a quick nutrient boost and is incredibly versatile. 

Here’s a very easy, wonderfully filling breakfast recipe that I rely on to help kickstart my day. 

I eat this at least 4 or 5 times a week and keep it interesting by sprinkling over spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg or changing the berries and toppings I use.

Ingredients:

150g yoghurt of your choice

125mls kefir (or swap for plant milk)

1 tsp maple syrup

2 tbsp Menoligna

Handful of chopped, mixed berries (fresh or frozen)

1 tbsp nut butter

Method:

Mix the yoghurt, kefir, maple syrup and Menoligna together in a breakfast bowl. Sprinkle over the berries and finish with a drizzle of nut butter. Super simple, super delicious and super nutrient dense.

In summary

Although the science on eating flaxseeds for menopause is inconclusive, I still think they’re a worthy addition to your diet.

Whether they improve your menopausal symptoms or not, they have a whole host of health benefits - from lowering cholesterol to reducing inflammation. They’re simple to use, taste delicious and wonderfully versatile.

Menoligna at a glance:

• Omega 3 fatty acids

• Fibre

• Protein

• Iron

• Calcium

• Magnesium

• Vitamin D

• Vitamin K

• Vitamins B1. B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12

• CoQ10

Written for Linwoods by specialist menopause nutritionist, Emma Bardwell www.emmabardwell.com @emma.bardwell


References

PMID: 25263312 Efficacy of phytoestrogens for menopausal symptoms: a meta-analysis and systematic review

PMID: 31899314 Effect of flaxseed supplementation on lipid profile: An updated systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of sixty-two randomised controlled trials

PMID: 26071633 Effects of flaxseed supplements on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled clinical trial

PMID: 29228348 Flaxseed supplementation on glucose control and insulin sensitivity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 25 randomised, placebo-controlled trials

PMID: 31739218 Effect of flaxseed supplementation on markers of inflammation and endothelial function: A systematic review and meta-analysis

PMID: 29228348 Flaxseed supplementation on glucose control and insulin sensitivity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 25 randomised, placebo-controlled trials

PMID: 31739218 Effect of flaxseed supplementation on markers of inflammation and endothelial function: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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