A new study has concluded that flaxseeds (linseeds) have a beneficial effect on lowering blood pressure.
Flaxseeds are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals and fibre. They also contain phytonutrients – plant chemicals that help us fight free radical damage and protect us from disease.
The study asked a group of people with peripheral arterial disease – a common condition in which a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries restricts the blood supply to leg muscles – to eat 30g of flaxseeds or a placebo every day for 6 months.
At the end of the study it was found that systolic blood pressure was about 10 mm Hg lower, and diastolic blood pressure was about 7 mm Hg lower in those who were adding flaxseed to their daily diet. It was also found that the effects were even better if the participants’ blood pressure was particularly high.
The researchers said “In summary, flaxseed induced one of the most potent antihypertensive effects achieved by a dietary intervention.”
Flaxseeds have many other health benefits: studies have shown that they have a protective effect against breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer; they contribute to a lowering of LDL cholesterol levels; a daily intake has been shown to improve the blood sugar levels of diabetics; the lignans (a plant phytoestrogen) and ALA, the form of omega 3 found in flaxseeds, may reduce the inflammation that accompanies certain illnesses such as Parkinson’s and asthma by helping block the release of certain pro-inflammatory agents.
30g of flaxseeds is equal to about 2 heaped tablespoons and flaxseeds. They can be easily added to the diet by sprinkling over cereals or adding to salads and smoothies. As the omega 3 fatty acids can be easily damaged by heat, they should not be cooked but added to food at the end of cooking eg when using on porridge. They can also be ground up or soaked.
Flaxseeds should be kept in the fridge or freezer to protect the omega 3 fatty acids.
Rodriguez-Leyva D, Weighell W, et al. Potent antihypertensive action of dietary flaxseed in hypertensive patients. Hypertension. 2013 Dec;62(6):1081-9.