Flax the next soy

- Last updated on GMT

Ingredients firm Acatris has introduced a new product which has the
potential to surpass the rapidly growing sales of its Soylife soy
isoflavones, according to its president.

Ingredients firm Acatris has introduced a new product which has the potential to surpass the rapidly growing sales of its Soylife soy isoflavones, according to its president.

The firm, with headquarters in the Netherlands, unveiled the standardized lignan extract, derived from flaxseed, at the SupplySide West tradeshow last week. LinumLife is designed for use in supplements and functional foods aimed at balancing hormone levels and reducing menopause or other hormone-related symptoms.

Flaxseed lignans are thought to be powerful antioxidants and are also phytoestrogens, offering significant potential in both the men's and women's health markets. Lignans are currently being researched for their role in diseases including Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) or enlargement of the prostate gland, and prostate cancer. They could also be used in products to help prevent hair loss, as trials have found lignans to benefit both men and women with androgenetic alopecia.

The LinumLife extract, launched in Europe last year, is said to be the first highly concentrated and standardized source of flax lignans, providing 10-30 times more than traditional flax ingredients. The product also has an extended shelflife, as all the oil is removed in the extraction process.

"Flax has the potential to be even bigger than soy,"​ president of Acatris North America's health division Laurent Leduc told NutraIngredientsUSA.com on Friday. "Soy has had to overcome the negative image resulting from its taste. It is also not a common ingredient in the European or US diet, while flax has been part of our diet for centuries."

Last month Acatris revealed in its half-year results that sales of its Soylife isoflavones had leaped on the back of research showing the possible negative effects of HRT.

"Some of our customers have more than tripled sales since August last year,"​ confirmed Leduc. However he added that growth in lignans could be as impressive, with bread, bars and cereals containing lignans likely to be available on the market in three to four years. And manufacturers will not be faced with the GM issue in Europe, as they do with soy.

Dr Marian Verbruggen, R&D director of Acatris, presented a seminar at SupplySide on Friday, discussing the background of flax lignans. More than 100 clinical trials have demonstrated the positive effects of the plant compound on human health, according to the firm.

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