Studies by institutions like Iowa State University's Nutrition and Wellness Research Center have shown that flaxseed can be used to lower cholesterol, but only in men. For a measurable result, at least 150 milligrams of flaxseed needed to be consumed every day. Flaxseed comes in a number of forms, and using ground flaxseed for cholesterol can increase benefits as it is the most easily digested. Tablets may be available in some areas, but those without access to the tablet form can still get flaxseed included in their diets with a quick trip to the store.
Ground or whole flaxseed can be purchased in bulk in some grocery stores and most health food stores. While ground flaxseed is easier to digest, whole flaxseed can be refrigerated in an airtight container to keep longer, and freshness is key to preserving flaxseed's beneficial qualities. Ground flaxseed can undergo an oxidation process, which lowers the amount of available omega-3 fatty acids and consequently reduces its effectiveness. When ready to use, whole seeds may be ground in a coffee grinder. On average, an annual daily intake of just 1.1 to 1.6 grams will make a significant impact on cholesterol levels.
Including flaxseed for cholesterol in the daily diet can be easy, as there are countless recipes available online for meals using flaxseed. Ground flaxseed can be sprinkled on hot or cold cereals, or mixed into yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, peanut butter, or dressings. It can also be included in soups or in a morning smoothie. Bakers can include it in almost any type of baked goods, from bread and muffins to cookies, buns, pie crusts, pizza dough, and snack bars.
Depending on the individual, a regimen of flaxseed can result in anywhere from a 10% to 20% decrease in cholesterol levels, but only in men. Studies have shown that a regimen of flaxseed for cholesterol has no measurable effect on women. Men using flaxseed typically get less of a reduction in cholesterol than with most cholesterol medications, but the decrease still can be significant, and may help individuals without dangerously high levels maintain their health. Using flaxseed to reduce cholesterol can also have some other health benefits, as it lowers both total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein levels; in doing so, it can also lower the risk of heart disease. Ground flaxseed also contains fiber that can be beneficial to the digestive tract.