Did You Know…that flax seeds may be a cheap, natural treatment for hypertension?
High blood pressure (hypertension) affects 1 in 3 Americans (68 million and counting) and is the number one reason for doctor’s visits.
|The National Institutes for Health (NIH) considers a reading of 140/90 mm Hg indicative of hypertension.|
The risks of high blood pressure include cognitive impairment, aneurysm, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and stroke, among other life-threatening conditions. Blood pressure medications—diuretics, ACE inhibitors, and beta-blockers—come with assorted side effects, including:
- Loss of essential minerals and subsequent nutrient deficiency
- Kidney damage
- Erectile dysfunction
- Digestive disorders
- Elevated triglycerides (blood fats) and LDL (bad) cholesterol
- Vision problems
- Anxiety and restlessness
One natural remedy for hypertension that has shown great promise in recent studies is flax seeds. Flax seeds are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, fiber, and lignans (an antioxidant that protects against oxidative damage).
Change Your Diet, Lower Your Blood Pressure
Previous animal studies have demonstrated the positive effect of flax seeds on hypertension, but a recent study published in the journal Hypertension is one of the first to show that flax seeds lower blood pressure in humans.
Hypertension is a common symptom of peripheral artery disease—a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries of the leg. For the study, researchers separated 110 people with peripheral artery disease into two groups.
One group ate 30 grams (1 ounce) of milled flax seed in the form of muffins, pasta, and bagels every day for one year.
The control group ate the same fare for the same amount of time, but with no flax seed mixed in.
After six months, 24 people had dropped out of the study. Of the remaining patients…
Those in the flax seed group who started with a systolic blood pressure reading of at least 140 found their blood pressure lowered by an average of 15 mm Hg. The diastolic (the bottom) number also lowered an average of 7 mm Hg.
Patients not on the flax seed diet showed no changes in their blood pressure readings.
These impressive results were only with participants who began the study with high blood pressure. The study authors noted that flax seeds did not appear to lower the blood pressure of patients who started the study with normal readings.
A different study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that flaxseed oil lowered the blood pressure of patients with dyslipidemia—a condition characterized by either too high or too low amounts of cholesterol or fat in the blood:
After 12 weeks of supplementation with flaxseed oil patients showed significant improvement in both systolic and diastolic numbers, while patients in the control group who supplemented with safflower oil did not exhibit such gains.
Experts warn against swapping out your blood pressure medications for flax seeds just yet. More human tests need to be conducted. But we can certainly add hypertension to the list of possible ailments flax seeds may help protect against. So far, flax seeds have been discovered to possibly decrease the risk of breast cancer… inhibit the growth and metastasis of cancer cells… and neutralize damage caused by radiation therapy.