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Foods High in Lignans

author image Norma Chew
Norma Chew is a retired registered nurse who has been a freelance writer since 1978. Chew's articles have appeared in the "Journal of the Association of Operating Room Nurses" (AORN), "Point of View Magazine" and "Today's OR Nurse." Chew has a master's degree in health care administration from Nova Southeastern University.
Foods High in Lignans
Eat fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts daily. They are packed with lignans.

Lignans are chemicals found in the cells of plants. They are a class of phytonutrient or plant-nutrient called phytoestrogens. Lignans, according to Dr. Ray Sahelain, have many health benefits, including their affect on breast cancer, prostate cancer and brain function. Lignans also benefit the cardiovascular and the immune systems.

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Seeds and Nuts

Seeds and nuts are excellent sources of lignans. Sesame, sunflower, flax, poppy and pumpkin seeds, along with cashew nuts and peanuts, are rich with lignans. Flax seed leads the pack as one of the richest sources of lignan precursors, according to Dr. Ray Sahelian. Flax seed has also been recognized for its effects in treating cardiovascular disease. Add ground or milled flax seeds as toppings to yogurt, cereals and desserts to enjoy the benefits of this powerful nutrient.

Whole Grains

Whole grains like rye, barley and oats, whole wheat, granola, bran and muesli contain high amounts of plant lignans as well as fiber. Eating foods like breads, muffins, cookies, cereals or pancakes made with these whole grains add lignans and fiber to your diet. According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, studies in collaboration with the United States and Europe show that high intake of foods rich in fiber also significantly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.


Eating a variety of vegetables and fruits can ensure a healthy diet and a good intake of lignans. Broccoli and curly kale are rich sources of lignans. Other vegetables such as white and red cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, green and red sweet peppers are also good sources.


Fruits like apricots, strawberries and peaches are packed with lignans. Pears, nectarine and pink grapefruit and cherries are also good sources.

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