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Flax may fill you up for longer, aid weight management

By Stephen Daniells , 01-Feb-2012

University of Copenhagen researchers report that flax fiber consumed in a tablet or as a beverage had similar hunger-suppressing effects, but the greater convenience of the tablets may make them an “attractive alternative” to beverages.

Fiber from flax may suppress appetite and help support weight loss, according to a new study from Denmark that also compared the efficacy of flax fiber from a tablet or a beverage.

“As obesity is closely connected with appetite, regular ingestion of flaxseed fiber in a low-energy beverage prior to each meal may help to maintain or lose weight as suppression of hunger between meals may aid adherence to a calorie-restricted diet,” wrote the researchers in Appetite.

“The advantage of flaxseed fibers over other dietary fibers is that already a dose of 2.5 g is sufficient to impact appetite. This is a considerably smaller amount than in most other studies, which administered dietary fiber doses ranging from 5 to 12 g.”

An expanding market for expanding waist lines

The slimming ingredients market can be divided into six groups based on the mechanisms of action – boosting fat burning/ thermogenesis, inhibiting protein breakdown, suppressing appetite/boosting satiety (feeling of fullness), blocking fat absorption, carbohydrate blockers, and regulating mood (linked to food consumption).

At the SupplySide West Expo in Las Vegas in 2010, Tom Vierhile from Datamonitor told attendees that the big growth area for supplements regarding claims is for calorie or fat burning. In 2007, calorie/fat burning was experiencing 1 percent growth, while in 2010 this had increased to 3 per cent, he said.

Satiety continues to receive a lot of attention from consumers, said Vierhile, however such interest does not necessarily translate into product sales, he said. Indeed, according to a recent survey of global consumers by Datamonitor, “consumers talk around satiety, and not about it”.

“Hunger control will potentially resonate more effectively with consumers than satiety,” he advised.

This is not the first time that the hunger busting activity of flax has been reported: The same researchers reported last year in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases that addition of 2.4 grams of flaxseed fiber to a meal increased both ratings of satiety and fullness, compared with a control meal.

The new study adds to the previous findings and also showed that the potential appetite suppressing activity of flax did not differ when flax fiber was delivered as a tablet or a drink.

Study details

The Copenhagen-based researchers conducted two single-blinded randomized crossover studies with 24 and 20 people, respectively.

The first study compared the efficacy of a flax drink containing 2.5 g of soluble fibers versus a control beverage on appetite and subsequent food intake, while the second study compared the flax drink with flax tablets containing the same doses of fiber.

Results showed that the measures of satiety and fullness were about 30% larger for flax beverage than for the control beverage, with prospective food intake about 8% less.

Comparison of the flax beverage and the flax tablets indicated that appetite ratings were similar and differed by no more than 1 to 4%.

Beverages vs tablets

“The texture of viscous beverages is often perceived as unpalatable, which makes them rather unsuitable for commercial use,” wrote the researchers. “In the present study this becomes apparent in the higher palatability ratings of the Control drink compared to the flaxseed drink.

“Flaxseed fiber tablets may be an attractive alternative, as they appear to be as effective as a viscous beverage, but more convenient. Tablets are easily dosed and do not require preparations, which stands in contrast to the usage of a powder.”

Source: Appetite
Volume 58, Issue 2, Pages 490–495, doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.12.024
“Flaxseed dietary fiber supplements for suppression of appetite and food intake”
Authors: S. Ibrugger, M. Kristensen, M.Skau Mikkelsen, Arne Astrup

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