Does Flaxseed Lower Blood Pressure?

About one-third of Americans have high blood pressure, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. High blood pressure increases your risk for the two leading causes of death in the United States -- heart disease and stroke. You might not know you have high blood pressure because only rarely are symptoms associated with the condition. Get your blood pressure checked regularly and speak with your doctor if you're concerned. Medications are available to treat the condition, but so are alternatives. Flaxseed is an inexpensive dietary addition that can reduce hypertension.

Flaxseeds on a wooden spoon. (Image: Larasoul/iStock/Getty Images)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Flaxseed is rich in alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid you can get only through food. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that eating foods rich in ALA reduces your risk for heart attack and stroke. A study published in 2005 in the journal “Hypertension” examined blood pressure and dietary linolenic acid consumption in more than 4,500 adults. The results showed that the more ALA participants ate, the lower their risk of hypertension.

Blood Pressure Reduction

A 2013 study published in “Hypertension” concluded that flaxseed lowers blood pressure in hypertensive patients. More than 100 patients diagnosed with peripheral artery disease, a condition associated with high blood pressure, were assigned to a flaxseed group or a placebo group. The former ate 30 grams of flaxseed every day for 6 months. At the conclusion of the study, those in the flaxseed group had lower blood pressure than those in the placebo group.

Determining Dosage

Flaxseed is available in oil form and as whole or ground seeds. Flaxseed oil contains ALA but lacks other valuable nutrients found in the seeds, such as fiber and lignans. If you buy whole flaxseeds and grind them, use them within 24 hours of grinding because they lose their benefits over time. Ground flaxseed is available in a special package to maintain its health properties. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests consuming 1 tablespoon two to three times a day or 2 to 4 tablespoons once a day.

Other Considerations

Always speak to your doctor before starting a supplement because it can interact with other supplements or medications you’re taking. Flaxseed behaves like estrogen in the body, so avoid taking it if you have breast, uterine or ovarian cancer. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, steer clear of flaxseed for the same reason. Flaxseed may interfere with blood-thinning medications, diabetes medications and birth control, and the fiber in flaxseed may exacerbate an inflamed or obstructed bowel and narrowed esophagus.

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