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Milled Flaxseed Reduces High Blood Pressure In High Risk Patients: American Heart Association 2012 Scientific Sessions.

James Meschino DC, MS, ROHP
In a study presented in November (2012), at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, Dr Delfin Rodriguez(University Hospital Holguin, Cuba) presented evidence that the addition of 30 grams per day of milled flaxseed to the diets of patients with peripheral vascular disease resulted in a significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure over the six month study period.

In patients with both peripheral vascular disease and high blood pressure those ingesting the milled flaxseed exhibited a reduction in systolic blood pressure of about 15 mm Hg and about the same for diastolic blood pressure. Patients taking the placebo saw a slight rise in their blood pressure.

Across the entire population of patients adding flaxseed to the diets of patients with peripheral arterial disease resulted in large drops in blood pressure of around 10 mm Hg systolic and 7 mm Hg diastolic after six months, according to the results of their double-blind, placebo-controlled study.The study included 110 patients with existing peripheral vascular disease, 75% of which also had high blood pressure (hypertension).

Dr Rodriguez commented, “This reduction of systolic and diastolic blood pressure after administration of dietary flaxseed is the largest decrease in blood pressure ever shown by any dietary intervention”.  He went on to state that such reductions would be expected to result in around a 50% fall in the incidence of stroke and a 30% reduction in heart attacks (myocardial infarction).

Dr Rodriguez went on to state, “Flaxseed represents a particularly attractive strategy for controlling hypertension in economically disadvantaged communities and countries, and its blood pressure-lowering effects compare favorably with those of antihypertensive drugs and lifestyle modifications, such as a low-salt diet and weight loss.”

He noted that they chose to study milled flaxseedbecause animal studies have shown it has anti-atherogenic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-arrhythmic effects and may reduce circulating cholesterol and trans-fatty acid levels.

The flaxseed group also showed a twofold increase in plasma alpha-linolenic acid (the omega-3 fat found in flaxseeds) and a 10-fold increase in enterolactone levels (phytoestrogen formed in the gut after flaxseed consumption),but levels of these compounds did not change in the placebo group.

As to how milled flaxseed is able to lower blood pressure, Dr Rodriguez commented, “Flaxseed has different components, including alpha-linolenic acid, enterolignans, and fiber, and all have been shown to decrease BP. We think we are seeing a synergistic effect of different compounds.”

I personally ingest 50 grams per day of ground (milled) flaxseed. I add it to my morning protein shake. Ingredients in flaxseed have been shown to help reduce risk of prostate and breast cancer, fibrocystic breast disease, they lower cholesterol, improve function of large bowel (mild bulk laxative effect), and we now see may help to reduce high blood pressure and help maintain normal blood pressure in healthy subjects. I would encourage you to add 50 grams of ground flaxseed to your wellness regime if you have not started to do this yet.


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