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J Sci Food Agric. 2014 Jul;94(9):1729-38. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.6482. Epub 2014 Jan 7.

Bioaccessibility of lignans from flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum L.) determined by single-batch in vitro simulation of the digestive process.

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Food Science and Technology Institute, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile.



Flaxseed is an important source of lignan secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG) and its aglycone, secoisolariciresinol (SECO). These phenolic compounds can be metabolized to the mammalian lignans enterodiol (ED) and enterolactone (EL) by human intestinal microflora. Flaxseed lignans are known for their potential health benefits, which are attributed to their antioxidant and phytoestrogenic properties. The focus of this study was to determine the bioaccessibility of plant and mammalian lignans in whole flaxseed (WF) and flaxseed flour (FF) throughout the entire digestive process. Moreover, the metabolic activity of intestinal microflora was evaluated.


A single-batch in vitro simulation of the digestive process was performed, including fermentation by the intestinal microflora in the colon. Bioaccessibility was calculated as (free lignan)/(total lignan). In digested WF, the bioaccessibility values of SECO, ED and EL were 0.75%, 1.56% and 1.23%, respectively. Conversely, in digested FF, the bioaccessibility values of SDG, ED and EL were 2.06%, 2.72% and 1.04%, respectively. The anaerobic count and short-chain fatty acids indicate that bacteria survival and carbohydrate fermentation occurred.


The contents of both SDG and ED were significantly higher in digested FF than in digested WF. FF facilitated the action of intestinal bacteria to release SDG and metabolize ED.


bioaccessibility; flaxseed; in vitro digestion; lignans

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