Dietary intake and main sources of plant lignans in five European countries

  • Inge Tetens National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark
  • Aida Turrini
  • Heli Tapanainen
  • Tue Christensen
  • Johanna W. Lampe
  • Sisse Fagt
  • Niclas Håkansson
  • Annamari Lundquist
  • Jesper Hallund
  • Liisa M. Valsta


Background: Dietary intakes of plant lignans have been hypothesized to be inversely associated with the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and cancer. Earlier studies were based on a Finnish lignan database (Fineli†) with two lignan precursors, secoisolariciresinol (SECO) and matairesinol (MAT). More recently, a Dutch database, including SECO and MAT and the newly recognized lignan precursors lariciresinol (LARI) and pinoresinol (PINO), was compiled. The objective was to re-estimate and re-evaluate plant lignan intakes and to identify the main sources of plant lignans in five European countries using the Finnish and Dutch lignan databases, respectively.

Methods: Forty-two food groups known to contribute to the total lignan intake were selected and attributed a value for SECO and MAT from the Finnish lignan database (Fineli†) or for SECO, MAT, LARI, and PINO from the Dutch database. Total intake of lignans was estimated from food consumption data for adult men and women (1979 years) from Denmark, Finland, Italy, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the contribution of aggregated food groups calculated using the Dutch lignin database.

Results: Mean dietary lignan intakes estimated using the Dutch database ranged from 1 to 2 mg/day, which was approximately four-fold higher than the intakes estimated from the Fineli† database. When LARI and PINO were included in the estimation of the total lignan intakes, cereals, grain products, vegetables, fruit and berries were the most important dietary sources of lignans.

Conclusion: Total lignin intake was approximately four-fold higher in the Dutch lignin database, which includes the lignin precursors LARI and PINO, compared to estimates based on the Finnish database based only on SECO and MAT. The main sources of lignans according to the Dutch database in the five countries studied were cereals and grain products, vegetables, fruit, berries, and beverages.

Keywords: lignan intake; secoisolariciresinol; matairesinol; lariciresinol; pinoresinol

(Published: 11 June 2013)

Citation: Food & Nutrition Research 2013. 57: 19805 -


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How to Cite
Tetens I., Turrini A., Tapanainen H., Christensen T., Lampe J. W., Fagt S., Håkansson N., Lundquist A., Hallund J., & Valsta L. M. (2013). Dietary intake and main sources of plant lignans in five European countries. Food & Nutrition Research.
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