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Flaxseed shows blood pressure-lowering potential: Study

By Stephen Daniells , 30-Nov-2012
Last updated the 30-Nov-2012 at 16:09 GMT

Flaxseed shows blood pressure-lowering potential: Study

Daily consumption of flaxseed-fortified bakery products may reduce blood pressure levels in patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD), suggests new data presented at the November American Heart Association 2012 Scientific Sessions.

Flaxseed-rich bagels, muffins, and buns at a daily dose of 30 grams were associated with a decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure of 10 and 7 mmHg, report researchers from the Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine (CCARM) centered at St. Boniface Hospital.

“This is the largest decrease in blood pressure ever shown by any dietary intervention – including the Mediterranean Diet and low-sodium diets,” said lead researcher Dr Grant Pierce.

“We expect that this kind of improvement in people with hypertension could reduce their incidence of heart attack and stroke by 50%.”

The study was funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Flax Council of Canada, Canada Bread, the Agri-Food Research and Development Initiative, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and St-Boniface Hospital Foundation.

Study details

The researchers recruited 110 patients with PAD and randomly assigned them to consume either milled flaxseed (30 g/day) in the form of bagels, muffins, and buns or placebo products made from wheat with a similar flavor, for one year.

When the researchers focused on PAD patients with hypertension they found a greater reduction in systolic blood pressure of about 15 mm Hg.

“We obtained an important decrease in SBP and DBP using flaxseed compared with placebo”, said Peirce.

“Flaxseed has different components, including alpha-linolenic acid, enterolignans, and fiber, and all have been shown to decrease blood pressure. We think we are seeing a synergistic effect of different compounds," he added.

A spokesperson for Glanbia Nutritionals, supplier of the flaxseed used in the study, told NutraIngredients-USA that a paper is being submitted to a peer-review journal within the next three months, and that a three year study is planned to determine which bioactive compounds may be responsible for the BP lowering or whether the effects are due to synergies.

William Hill, President of the Flax Council of Canada, added: “Consumers have embraced flax for decades, but they are not always aware of its many health benefits.

“Research like this lends scientific support to what the flax industry and nutritionists have been saying all along, that flax has an important role to play in the health of individuals.” 

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