Flaxseed is emerging as one of the most effective natural remedies for high blood pressure. Eating 30g ground or milled flaxseed per day can lower your blood pressure by as much as 10/7 mmHg which is a better result than that achieved with most prescribed blood pressure treatment.
Flax seed lowers blood pressure
Flax seeds, also known as linseed, are small, tan or golden-brown seeds that are nutritional powerhouses.
In a study known as FlaxPAD, 110 people with peripheral arterial disease, many of whom also had high blood pressure, were asked to eat 30g ground flaxseed per day, or placebo, for 6 months. In those eating the flaxseed, there was a significant blood pressure reductions of 10/7 mm Hg blood pressure compared with placebo.
In those whose blood pressure was greater than 140/90 mmHg at the start of the trial the blood pressure improvements were even greater at 15/7 mmHg in those taking flaxseed compared with placebo.
These results are astonishing, given that participants had significant hardening and furring up of the arteries, and the researchers concluded that flaxseed ‘induced one of the most potent antihypertensive effects achieved by a dietary intervention’.
Another recent study found that flaxseed can even lower central blood pressure in the aorta – the largest artery in the body. In patients with high blood pressure, the average decrease in central blood pressures was 10/6 mmHg compared with placebo. This beneficial effect might be expected to reduce the risks of developing an aortic aneurysm.
These results are further strengthened by data from 14 clinical trials, involving 1004 people, which show that flaxseed supplements reduced blood pressure by an average of 1.77/1.58 mmHg. While this may seem less dramatic, not everyone taking part had hypertension, and not all the studies used ground/milled flaxseed. Six of the studies used flaxseed oil and 3 used flaxseed extracts containing concentrated lignans in capsule form.
Research suggests that it is ground or milled flaxseed which has the most powerful blood pressure lowering action.
Another consideration is that some studies only lasted 3, 4 or 6 weeks, and trials of longer durations, of at least 12 weeks, were shown to have the best response.
How flaxseed lowers blood pressure
Flaxseeds are a rich source of the short-chain omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid, fibre, oestrogen-like plant hormones (lignans) and other antioxidant polyphenols. In fact, flax seeds are the richest known dietary source of lignans and contain seven times more than the next rich source, which is sesame seeds.
Lignans and the other beneficial components found in flaxseed have a variety of effects on the circulation, including lowering cholesterol and improving glucose control.
The main antihypertensive effect of flaxseed is now thought to result from the combination of lignans, antioxidants and its high levels of alpha-linolenic acid.
Flaxseed alpha-linolenic acid is an omega-3 that blocks the generation of substances (oxylipins) which cause blood pressure to rise. While researchers have confirmed that flaxseed mainly lowers blood pressure by suppressing the formation of these oxylipins, flaxseed lignans must play an important role, as omega-3 rich flaxseed oil, and other omega-3 sources such as oily fish, do not have such an impressive effect in lowering blood pressure as ground flax seeds.
How to add flaxseed to your diet
Although flaxseed oil supplements are widely available, you will gain the best blood pressure lowering effect by eating ground or whole flaxseeds. Milling releases significantly more omega-3 and lignans for absorption than when eating the seeds whole.
Sprinkle the flaxseed on any meal, add to muesli, smoothies, deserts, and use in baking, too.
Regular daily use of 30g (around 2 tablespoons) was the dose used in clinical trials, with best results seen after 12 weeks.
Don’t use flaxseed oil if you want to see significant results in treating hypertension – although of course, flaxseed oil is a healthy oil for all other uses!
If you have high blood pressure, then following the DASH diet – which is essentially a low-salt version of the Mediterranean diet, will also produce good results. Click here to find out how to follow the DASH diet.
This article was originally posted on DrSarahBrewer.com
Image credits: HealthAliciousness.com/flickr; pezibear/pixabay