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The Effects of Flaxseed Oil on Blood Pressure

by
author image Lori Newell
I hold a Master's degree in exercise physiology/health promotion. I am a certified fitness specialist through the American College of Spots Medicine and an IYT certified yoga teacher. I have over 25 years experience teaching classes to both general public and those with chronic illness. The above allows me to write directly to the reader based on personal experiences.
The Effects of Flaxseed Oil on Blood Pressure
Flax seed oil is less effective then flax seeds to lower blood pressure. Photo Credit piotr_malczyk/iStock/Getty Images

If your blood pressure is too high you have a higher risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack or stroke. Keeping your blood pressure under control means eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, losing weight and managing stress. It may also be necessary to take medication to avoid serious illness. Some cases of high blood pressure may also benefit from taking flax seed oil or consuming flax seeds. However, high blood pressure is a serious medical condition, and flax seed oil may not be appropriate for everyone, so it should only be used under medical supervision.

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure measures the force that blood places against the blood vessel walls as it travels through the body. It is recorded as a fraction and the top, or systolic number, represents the force created when the heart contracts. The bottom, or diastolic number, represents the force created when the heart is at rest. Hypertension or high blood pressure is diagnosed when systolic pressure is between 140 to 159 and/or diastolic pressure is between 90 to 99. High blood pressure can be caused by underlying medical conditions; medications; a diet high in cholesterol, fat and salt; a sedentary lifestyle; smoking and being overweight. Hypertension means the heart muscle is worker harder then normal to deliver blood and oxygen to the body, and if it is not well controlled, it can cause serious illness and even be fatal.

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Flax Seed Oil

Flax seed oil is produced from the seeds of the flax plant, or Linum usitatissimum, L. This plant contains the essential fatty acids Omega 3 and Omega 6, which the body needs but does not make. The type of essential oil found in flax seed oil is called alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, which the body converts into eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA and docosahexaenoic acid or DHA. EPA and DHA are the types of Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish, and have been shown to lower the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. However it is uncertain if the ALA in flax seed oil can produce enough DHA and EPA to provide the same health benefits as fish, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels

High blood pressure can be caused by high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. High levels of either one can contribute to the buildup of plaque along the blood vessel walls. As plaque accumulates, the blood vessels become hard and narrow which restricts the space that the blood has to travel through. As the blood is pumped through the body, more force is placed against the blood vessel walls, which causes blood pressure to rise. Flax seeds are high in fiber and fiber hinders the body's ability to absorb cholesterol and fat; so eating high fiber foods can help to protect against plaque buildup. However, according to MedlinePlus, not enough research has been done to determine if flax seed oil has the same effect. Flax seed oil may only be beneficial for preventing high blood pressure, but it may not be able to lower blood pressure in those already diagnosed.

Recommended Amount

Cold water fatty fish and fish oil supplements are the best sources of Omega 3 fatty acids and a general recommendation is to get 3 or more grams of fish oil daily, to help manage blood pressure. In comparison, a tablespoon of flax seed oil has about 0.07grams of EPA and DHA, notes the Harvard Medical School. This means it would be necessary to take about 42 tablespoons of flax seed oil, to meet this requirement. However, consider consuming flax seeds if you do not consume fish, because 1 oz of flax seeds contains 1.8 g of omega 3 fatty acids. Flax seeds can be ground up and added to your meals.

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