Flaxseeds (Linum usitatissimum) have come under the spotlight recently due to their high content of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.[1,2,3] They are also rich in amino acids—arginine and glutamine—that prevent heart disease and boost immunity.[4,5]

Clinical studies show that daily consumption of flaxseeds can lower bad (LDL) cholesterol levels by nine to 18 percent.[6,7,8,9] Studies also suggest that flaxseeds can prevent diarrhea and constipation.[10,11,12] Research found that when 10gm to 20gm of flaxseed powder was given to people with type 2 diabetes daily, their fasting blood sugar levels were reduced by 19.7 percent.[13,14]

Lab and animal studies have shown that flaxseeds can suppress the formation of several types of cancers such as breast, colon, skin and lung cancer.[15,16] The fiber present in them can suppress hunger pangs and aid weight loss.[17,18]

Flaxseeds For High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by the blood on the blood vessels. In cases of high blood pressure, this pressure stretches the tissues on the wall of the arteries beyond the healthy limit, which damages them.

Of all foods known to lower blood pressure, flaxseeds are considered to be one of the most effective.[19,20,21] They are the richest source of the lignan, secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (a plant antioxidant), which is known for its blood pressure-lowering properties. In a clinical study carried out over a period of six months on individuals with high blood pressure, systolic blood pressure (the pressure on the arteries when your heart pumps blood) was reduced by 10mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (the pressure on the arteries when your heart relaxes between beats) was reduced by 7mmHg .[22]

In other studies, for every 5mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure and for each 2-5mmHg reduction in diastolic blood pressure, the risk of stroke was reduced by 11-13 percent and the risk of heart disease is reduced by 34 percent.[23,24]

How To Take It

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1. Goyal A, Sharma V, Upadhyay N, Gill S, Sihag M. Flax and flaxseed oil: an ancient medicine & modern functional food. J Food Sci Technol. 2014 Sep;51(9):1633-53. doi: 10.1007/s13197-013-1247-9. Epub 2014 Jan 10. Review. PubMed PMID: 25190822; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4152533.

2. Singh KK, Mridula D, Rehal J, Barnwal P. Flaxseed: a potential source of food, feed and fiber. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2011 Mar;51(3):210-22. doi: 10.1080/10408390903537241. Review. PubMed PMID: 21390942.

3. Prasad K. Flaxseed and cardiovascular health. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2009 Nov;54(5):369-77. doi: 10.1097/FJC.0b013e3181af04e5. Review. PubMed PMID: 19568181.

4. Gornik HL, Creager MA. Arginine and endothelial and vascular health. J Nutr. 2004 Oct;134(10 Suppl):2880S-2887S; discussion 2895S. Review. PubMed PMID:15465805.

5. Avenell A. Glutamine in critical care: current evidence from systematic reviews. Proc Nutr Soc. 2006 Aug;65(3):236-41. Review. PubMed PMID: 16923308.

6. Kristensen M, Jensen MG, Aarestrup J, Petersen KE, Søndergaard L, Mikkelsen MS, Astrup A. Flaxseed dietary fibers lower cholesterol and increase fecal fat excretion, but magnitude of effect depend on food type. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2012
Feb 3;9:8. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-9-8. PubMed PMID: 22305169; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3307491.

7. Kawakami Y, Yamanaka-Okumura H, Naniwa-Kuroki Y, Sakuma M, Taketani Y, Takeda E. Flaxseed oil intake reduces serum small dense low-density lipoprotein concentrations in Japanese men: a randomized, double blind, crossover study. Nutr J. 2015 Apr 21;14:39. doi: 10.1186/s12937-015-0023-2. PubMed PMID: 25896182; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4409715.

8. Patade A, Devareddy L, Lucas EA, Korlagunta K, Daggy BP, Arjmandi BH. Flaxseed reduces total and LDL cholesterol concentrations in Native American postmenopausal women. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2008 Apr;17(3):355-66. doi:
10.1089/jwh.2007.0359. PubMed PMID: 18328014.

9. Bloedon LT, Balikai S, Chittams J, Cunnane SC, Berlin JA, Rader DJ, Szapary PO. Flaxseed and cardiovascular risk factors: results from a double blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial. J Am Coll Nutr. 2008 Feb;27(1):65-74. PubMed PMID: 18460483.
10. Hanif Palla A, Gilani AH. Dual effectiveness of Flaxseed in constipation and diarrhea: Possible mechanism. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Jul 1;169:60-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.03.064. Epub 2015 Apr 15. PubMed PMID: 25889554.

11. Xu J, Zhou X, Chen C, Deng Q, Huang Q, Yang J, Yang N, Huang F. Laxative effects of partially defatted flaxseed meal on normal and experimental constipated mice. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 Mar 9;12:14. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-12-14. PubMed PMID: 22400899; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3353840.

12. Palla AH, Khan NA, Bashir S, Ur-Rehman N, Iqbal J, Gilani AH. Pharmacological basis for the medicinal use of Linum usitatissimum (Flaxseed) in infectious and non-infectious diarrhea. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Feb 3;160:61-8. doi:
10.1016/j.jep.2014.11.030. Epub 2014 Nov 26. PubMed PMID: 25433250.

13. Mani UV, Mani I, Biswas M, Kumar SN. An open-label study on the effect of flax seed powder (Linum usitatissimum) supplementation in the management of diabetes mellitus. J Diet Suppl. 2011 Sep;8(3):257-65. doi: 10.3109/19390211.2011.593615. Epub 2011 Jul 15. PubMed PMID: 22432725.

14. Sherry Kapoor, Rajbir Sachdeva and Anita Kochhar. Efficacy of Flaxseed Supplementation on Nutrient Intake and
Other Lifestyle Pattern in Menopausal Diabetic Females. Ethno Med, 5(3): 153-160 (2011).

15. Truan JS, Chen JM, Thompson LU. Comparative effects of sesame seed lignan and flaxseed lignan in reducing the growth of human breast tumors (MCF-7) at high levels of circulating estrogen in athymic mice. Nutr Cancer. 2012;64(1):65-71. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2012.630165. Epub 2011 Dec 2. PubMed PMID: 22136581.

16. Chen J, Power KA, Mann J, Cheng A, Thompson LU. Flaxseed alone or in combination with tamoxifen inhibits MCF-7 breast tumor growth in ovariectomized athymic mice with high circulating levels of estrogen. Exp Biol Med (Maywood).
2007 Sep;232(8):1071-80. PubMed PMID: 17720953.

17. Wanders AJ, van den Borne JJ, de Graaf C, Hulshof T, Jonathan MC, Kristensen M, Mars M, Schols HA, Feskens EJ. Effects of dietary fibre on subjective appetite, energy intake and body weight: a systematic review of randomized
controlled trials. Obes Rev. 2011 Sep;12(9):724-39. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00895.x. Epub 2011 Jun 16. Review. PubMed PMID: 21676152.

18. Kristensen M, Savorani F, Christensen S, Engelsen SB, Bügel S, Toubro S, Tetens I, Astrup A. Flaxseed dietary fibers suppress postprandial lipemia and appetite sensation in young men. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2013 Feb;23(2):136-43. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2011.03.004. Epub 2011 Jul 29. PubMed PMID: 21802266.

19. Adolphe JL, Whiting SJ, Juurlink BH, Thorpe LU, Alcorn J. Health effects with consumption of the flax lignan secoisolariciresinol diglucoside. Br J Nutr. 2010 Apr;103(7):929-38. doi: 10.1017/S0007114509992753. Epub 2009 Dec 15. Review. PubMed PMID: 20003621.

20. Caligiuri SP, Edel AL, Aliani M, Pierce GN. Flaxseed for hypertension: implications for blood pressure regulation. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2014 Dec;16(12):499. doi: 10.1007/s11906-014-0499-8. PubMed PMID: 25342643.

21. Khalesi S, Irwin C, Schubert M. Flaxseed consumption may reduce blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials. J Nutr. 2015 Apr;145(4):758-65. doi: 10.3945/jn.114.205302. Epub 2015 Mar 4. Review.
PubMed PMID: 25740909.

22. Rodriguez-Leyva D, Weighell W, Edel AL, LaVallee R, Dibrov E, Pinneker R, Maddaford TG, Ramjiawan B, Aliani M, Guzman R, Pierce GN. Potent antihypertensive action of dietary flaxseed in hypertensive patients. Hypertension. 2013
Dec;62(6):1081-9. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.113.02094. Epub 2013 Oct 14. PubMed PMID: 24126178.

23. Reboldi G, Gentile G, Angeli F, Ambrosio G, Mancia G, Verdecchia P. Effects of intensive blood pressure reduction on myocardial infarction and stroke in diabetes: a meta-analysis in 73,913 patients. J Hypertens. 2011 Jul;29(7):1253-69. doi: 10.1097/HJH.0b013e3283469976. PubMed PMID: 21505352.

24. Law M, Wald N, Morris J. Lowering blood pressure to prevent myocardial infarction and stroke: a new preventive strategy. Health Technol Assess. 2003;7(31):1-94. Review. PubMed PMID: 14604498.