Flaxseed for High Blood Pressure
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a condition characterized by the narrowing of blood vessels outside of the heart. It is caused by atherosclerosis or the build-up of fat and cholesterol (a substance called plaque) on the walls of the arteries. Plaque causes blood vessels to narrow or become blocked, resulting in the reduction or stopping of blood flow. A person with PAD has an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Reducing the buildup of plaque in the arteries is usually done by making dietary changes, increasing physical activity, and reducing high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
Although high blood pressure (hypertension) is often treated with medications, making dietary changes can also help improve it. New research shows that adding flaxseed to the diet in patients with peripheral artery disease can significantly lower their blood pressure.
Dr Delfin Rodriguez from the University Hospital Holguin, Cuba recently reported at the American Heart Association 2012 Scientific Sessions that such reductions in blood pressure could result in around a 50% fall in the incidence of stroke and a 30% reduction in heart attacks.
Flaxseed is a plant food that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, and can prevent the formation of plaque. It was used in the FLAX-PAD trial which was conducted in PAD patients who had high blood pressures. The researchers randomly assigned 110 participants into two groups who either took 30 grams of milled flaxseed daily, in the form of bagels, muffins, and buns or similarly flavored products made from wheat, for one year.
The investigators observed that there were large decreases in blood pressure of patients who consumed flaxseed compared to those who took placebo, showing that flaxseed may have a role in the treatment of high blood pressure in patients with PAD.
Nainggolan, L. Impressive Antihypertensive Effect With Flaxseed. Medscape.