Brief Introduction to Flax:
Flaxseed consists of small brown, tan or golden coloured seeds. Nothing much to look at – but flaxseed actually offers one of the richest sources of plant-based Omega-3 fatty acids and has been touted as an extremely heart-healthy food. In addition the lignans in the seeds have been shown to contain a significant estrogen-lowering ability as well as having a positive effect on cholesterol levels
So, Can Flaxseed Reduce Blood Pressure (BP)?
Having seen above that flaxseed has been shown to have several beneficial effects on human health, I wondered if it might offer some hope to those of us trying to control our blood pressure through more natural approaches. Could consuming flaxseed daily in our diets have a positive influence on blood pressure?
And the answer is … YES!!
An article featured in the Natural Medicine Journal (March 2014) provided the answer I was seeking. In it a study by Rodriguez-levya D., Weighell W., Edel AL.,et al was published which examined directly the antihypertensive action of dietary flaxseed in patients exhibiting high blood pressure. And the outcome of this double blind study of 110 subjects, 75% of whom had high BP, were pleasantly surprising. After 6 months of eating food such as bagels, muffins and buns every day to which 30g of flaxseed had been added, the target group showed some significant results:
their systolic blood pressure measured 10 mm Hg lower
and diastolic blood pressure was 7 mm Hg lower
than the placebo group.
What’s More … The More Elevated the Blood Pressure, the Better the Drop!!
The most surprising and significant aspect of this study came in the discovery that those with an initial BP of greater than 140mm Hg had the best reduction – around 15 mm Hg in systolic, and 7 mm Hg in diastolic. Lead author Dr. Rodriguez noted that
“This reduction of SBP (systolic) and DBP (diastolic)…
is the largest decrease in BP ever shown by any dietary intervention”
This is very encouraging news indeed!
Admittedly Flaxseed is not the most palatable food when consumed on its own – it has a slightly bitter and nutty taste – but it does lend itself as an excellent ingredient in many dishes. I recently started adding it to my favourite pancake recipe and found that, although it changes the texture of the pancakes somewhat, the taste is still fine. For those of you who would like to try this out, here is my recipe:
Nick’s Favourite Tasty Flaxseed Pancake Recipe:
- 1½ cup all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp nutmeg
- ⅓ cup freshly ground flaxseed – ideally cold pressed
- 1½ cups milk (or soy milk/coconut milk/almond milk – according to preference)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, honey or sugar
In a large bowl, sift all dry ingredients. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the combined wet. Stir just until combined.
Lightly oil a griddle or skillet and heat to medium high heat. Cook on the heated griddle until bubbles start to form on the top, which should take about one to one and a half minutes. Then flip the pancakes and cook the other side until golden brown, about 1 minute longer. Serve right away or keep warm in an oven set to the lowest heat.
… And Enjoy!!
I am just starting to use flaxseed in my dishes and am looking forward to seeing how flaxseed affects my BP as time goes on.
Meanwhile, I would welcome your comments and would love to know if anyone of you has had success incorporating flaxseed into his/her diet and how you best like to use it in your cooking.