Flax Seed for Hypertension

Did You Know…that flax seeds may help lower hypertension?

Hypertension (high blood pressure) afflicts 1 in 3 American adults.  This silent killer increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Unfortunately, typical drugs used for hypertension—diuretics, alpha and beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, and blood vessel dilators—come with serious and sometimes life-threatening side effects… including elevated cancer and heart attack risk.

Fortunately, new research has revealed the blood pressure-lowering effect of flax seeds.

Hypertension Has No Early Symptoms 

Often high blood pressure comes with no symptoms.  When symptoms do finally appear—shortness of breath, headaches, and nosebleeds—you’re in the most severe stage of the disease.  If left untreated, hypertension can cause the following complications:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Aneurysm
  • Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in the kidneys and eyes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Foggy memory and impaired cognition

How Flax Seed Can Help Hypertension 

Flax seeds are high in fiber, lignans, which are a type of antioxidant, and an extremely healthful omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).  According to the University of Maryland, a diet rich in ALA can help lower your risk for heart attack or stroke.

     A 2005 study published in the journal Hypertension showed that of the more than 4500 participants, those who ate the most ALA had the lowest hypertension risk. 

Another very exciting recent study made up of 110 people with peripheral artery disease also showed that flax seed reduced blood pressure in people with hypertension. Participants were fed a daily dose of either 30 grams (1 ounce) of flax seeds every day or a substitute seed-like placebo.

The study was double-blind, which means that neither the researchers nor the participants knew whether they were eating a flax seed diet or a placebo-controlled diet.  The flax was disguised in foods like bagels, muffins, and pasta.

 After 6 months, subjects eating flax seed saw a 10–15 point drop in their systolic blood pressure and as much as a 7-point drop in their diastolic blood pressure.  These numbers correlate with a risk reduction of as much as 46% for strokes and 29% for heart attacks!
 By comparison, ACE inhibitors like Vasotec may only drop blood pressure by 5 points…and calcium channel blockers like Norvasc or Cardizem by 8 and 3 points!
 Those in the placebo group saw no change in blood pressure; neither did those with normal blood pressure.

How to Consume Flax Seed

Flax seed oil contains ALA, but doesn’t have fiber and lignans like whole or ground flax seeds do.  If you buy flax seeds whole and then grind them, be sure to use within 24 hours so that the flax seeds don’t lose their nutritional potency.
Experts at the University of Maryland recommend consuming 1 tablespoon of flax seeds 2-3 times a day, or 2 tablespoons 1 time a day.

Flax seeds are powerful!  They can mimic estrogen in the body, so if you have breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer, or you are pregnant or breastfeeding, experts warn not to supplement with flax seeds.  Experts also caution against consuming flax seeds if you are on blood-thinning medications, diabetes medications, or birth control.  The fiber in flax seeds may also worsen an inflamed or obstructed bowel and narrowed esophagus.

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