The Flax Council of Canada has received approval for a health claim linking ground whole flaxseed to lower cholesterol from Health Canada’s Food Directorate, paving the way for more development and potential demand for food and beverage products incorporating the ingredient.
The approved claim, substantiated by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, states that daily consumption of 40 grams (5 tablespoons) of ground flaxseed will help to reduce cholesterol levels.
“This is a proud achievement as Canada is the first country in the world to allow a health-related claim for flaxseed for use on food labels,” said William Hill, president of the Flax Council of Canada. “This claim is one of only a dozen deemed to meet the rigorous scientific criteria established by Health Canada.”
Canada is the largest producer of flaxseed in the world, representing about 40% of world production. The other 40% of the world’s flaxseed is grown by China, the US and India. In 2012 the US produced nearly 5.8 million bushels of flax, valued at $78.3 million.
The Flax Council is recommending manufacturers make the following claims on food labels:
- Ground (whole) flaxseed helps reduce/lower cholesterol,
- high cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, and
- ground (whole) flaxseed helps reduce/lower cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease.
Available in whole seed and ground whole seed forms (grinding or milling the seeds makes the nutrients more available), flaxseed is lauded for its omega-3 fatty acids and fiber content, though it has other benefits, as Kelley Fitzpatrick, director of health and nutrition at the Flax Council of Canada, told FoodNavigator-USA.
Unlike other functional ingredients, which can compromise taste and texture in food products, she noted that the “nutty and toasted sensory profile of high-performance flaxseed-derived ingredients provides manufacturers with a tasty way of adding healthy functionality to baked goods, cereals and bars, as well as dough applications, such as pizza and tortillas.
“Flax does not adversely affect the taste of most foods, and is particularly suited to fortifying baked goods, where specialty flax ingredients can help improve volume, sheetability and shelf life,” Fitzpatrick added. “In beverage formulations, selecting very finely milled flaxseed-derived ingredients provides a smooth texture for ready-to-drink or ready-to-mix fortified beverages.”