Flax Seeds for Hypertension

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Flax Seeds Can Have Profound Effect on Hypertension

A recent article in the journal, Meat Science, acknowledged that a sector of the population perceives meat as a food that is detrimental to their health because of studies associating meat consumption with heart disease and cancer. So, the article continues, meat consumers may look for healthier food alternatives as a means to maintain good health, which represents a good opportunity for the meat industry to develop some new products. The industry felt that natural foods could be added to meat to reach those health-oriented consumers by boosting antioxidants levels, for example. Foods like flax seeds and tomatoes are healthy, associated with reduced risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease. So, by making flax-y tomato burgers, they figure they can reduce saturated fat intake and maybe eat less sugar somehow. Wouldn’t it be easier to just cut out the middle-cow and eat flax seeds ourselves?

Flax seeds have been described as a “miraculous defense against some critical maladies.” I’m a fan of flax, but this title seemed a bit over-exuberant; I figured something just got lost in translation, but then I found a prospective, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized trial—you know how hard that is in a nutrition study? For drugs, it’s easy: you have two identical looking pills, one’s active, one’s placebo, and until the end of the study, neither the researcher nor the patient has any idea which is which, hence “double blind.” But people tend to notice what they’re eating. So, how did they sneak a quarter cup of ground flax seeds into half of the people’s diets without them knowing? They created all these various flax or placebo containing foods, and even added bran and molasses to match the color and texture; so, it was all a big secret until six months later when they broke the code to see who ate which.

Why test it on hypertension? Because having a systolic blood pressure over 115—that’s the top number—may be the single most important determinant for death in the world today. If you take a bunch of older folks, most of them on an array of blood pressure pills, and don’t improve their diet at all, despite the drugs, they may start out on average hypertensive and stay hypertensive six months later. But those who were unknowingly eating ground flaxseeds every day, dropped their systolic blood pressure about ten points, and their diastolic, the lower number, by about seven points. That might not sound like a lot, but a drop like that could cut stroke risk 46 percent and heart disease 29 percent, and that ten point drop in the top number could have a similar effect on strokes and heart attacks. And for those that started out over 140, they got a 15-point drop.

In summary, flaxseed induced one of the most potent antihypertensive effects ever achieved by a dietary intervention. In other words, the magnitude of this decrease in blood pressure demonstrated by dietary flaxseed is as good or better than other nutritional interventions and comparable to many drugs, which can have serious side effects. And they’re not exaggerating about the comparable to drugs bit. The flax dropped systolic and diastolic up to 15 and 7. Compare that to powerful ACE inhibitors, like Vasotec, which may only drop pressures five and two, and calcium channel blockers, like Norvasc or Cardizem, which drop pressures eight and three. Side effects of these drugs include a large list of serious medical issues, as seen in my video Flax Seeds for Hypertension, compared to the side effect of flax seeds, “its pleasant nutty flavor.”

During the six-month trial, there were strokes and heart attacks in both groups, though. Even if the flax seeds can cut risk in half, any avoidable risk is unacceptable. Isn’t high blood pressure just inevitable as we get older? No – the prevalence of hypertension does increase dramatically with age, but not for everyone. People who eat more plant-based diets or keep their salt intake low enough tend not to exhibit any change in blood pressure with advancing age. It’s always better to prevent the disease in the first place.

And that’s not all flax can do. Check out:

Hibiscus tea may help with high blood pressure as well: Hibiscus Tea vs. Plant-Based Diets for Hypertension

Diet can also play an important role in preventing heart disease (How Not to Die from Heart Disease and One in a Thousand: Ending the Heart Disease Epidemic) and diabetes (How Not to Die from Diabetes and Plant-Based Diets and Diabetes). In some cases, diet can even reverse some of the worst ravages of high blood pressure: How Not to Die from High Blood Pressure and Kempner Rice Diet: Whipping Us Into Shape.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


153 responses to “Flax Seeds Can Have Profound Effect on Hypertension

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  1. A15-point drop in systolic blodpressure from a single intervention is so impressive! If this was a drug it would have the potential to become a blockbuster. Wonder how many MDs know about this….
    One concern: Flax seeds do contain traces of cadmium and cyanide. Is this a problem with regular consumption?

    1. Great question! As far as I know, there have been no long term studies on the effects of flax seed consumption and potential harm. As with any food, always buy whole seeds, organic if possible, and grind them yourself for minimal processing before you buy. I hope this helps!

      1. In the tests, where are the flax seeds sourced from? Are they heat treated? Are they organic?
        Surely, without knowing these and other facts from the research article quoted, we may never achieve the desired result, unless we can buy seeds from the same or very similar sources.

    2. This may depend upon the daily amount consumed, the cadmium/cyanide content of the remainder of one’s diet and the particular flaxseed variety consumed (and the composition of the soil in which it was grown) plus one’s bodyweight etc. Smaller individuals may be more sensitive to possible effects.

      ” Most orally ingested cadmium passes through the gastrointestinal tract unchanged as normal individuals absorb only about 6% of ingested cadmium, but up to 9% may be absorbed in those with iron deficiency (ATSDR 1999). Also, cadmium in water is more easily absorbed than cadmium in food (5% in water versus 2.5% in food) (IRIS 2006). The presence of elevated zinc or chromium in the diet decreases cadmium uptake.”
      https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=6&po=9

      A WFPD diet should contain adequate iron and zinc and indeed these are both found in flaxseeds. B vitamin deficiency may be a risk in vegetarians though. This may also be relevant
      http://nutritionfacts.org/2015/10/15/how-to-reduce-your-dietary-cadmium-absorption/

      The daily flaxseed dose used in the 6-month trial referred to by Dr G was 30g. Personally, as far as long term consumption is concerned, I prefer to limit my intake to 15g daily or less, based on a very interesting 2014 review
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924224414000697

      1. By the way, cadmium is an issue with many foods. Vegetarians in Europe have been found to get signficantly more cadmium on average than others. Common food groups contributing to cadmium intake include e.g. cereals, nuts, pulses, starchy vegetables, leafy vegetables, seaweed, you name it. Is flax near the high end?

        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.2903/j.efsa.2011.1975/pdf

        So I am wondering whether ground flax is more of a concern than anything else. Obviously it’s the total intake per week that counts but I don’t see how anyone could estimate this, which seems to leave two options – don’t worry about it, or get a blood test.

        1. Yes, I agree.

          Heavy metals.seem to be less bioavailable from plant foods and thus the absolute amount of any heavy metal in a particular food may be less important than how much is actually absorbed.
          http://nutritionfacts.org/video/cadmium-and-cancer-plant-vs-animal-foods/

          Of course, absorption from plants works the other way too. We used to think that there were no calories in fibre and its consumption meant that people were on a very low fat diet.
          http://advances.nutrition.org/content/2/2/151.full

          In fact, fibre does provide calories and it boosts endogenous short chain fatty acid production..
          http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/fat-chance-of-slimming-dieters-who-eat-high-fibre-foods-consume-more-calories-scientists-say-8500122.html
          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705355/

          1. Tom,

            Re: ‘In fact, fibre does provide calories and it boosts endogenous short chain fatty acid production.’

            You might be interested in the wild idea I had right after the wild idea I had about fibre in our gut ‘feeding’ us saturated fatty acids i.e. that the SCFA we produce (assuming our gut is healthy) are ‘heart’ protective:

            – the lower BP flax study, Esselstyn’s ‘heart reversal’, Grundy’s “Diet Evolution et al all included high dietary fibre in their protocols (not fibre supplements) and all achieved improvement in heart risk biomarkers;
            – mothers milk is high in fat ….. perhaps that is because the newborn doesn’t have an established microbiome, or any fibre to feed it, so the mother provides the required fat for the first few months of life. As solid food is introduced into the newborns diet it is weaned off the high fat diet. Perhaps the fibre in the solid food starts production of fatty acids in the gut.

            Of course that is all probably just coincidence.

            See what happens when you let naïve people read science.

            1. Thanks Rada.

              Well, I understand that they can “relax” arteries – albeit primarily in the colon – so there may well be something to your idea. And certainly high fibre diets are linked with lower risk of cardiovascular disease although I don’t think that we really understand all the mechanisms by which this might happen. However some researchers do maintain that “Specific SCFA may reduce the risk of developing gastrointestinal disorders, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.”
              https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16633129
              onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-2036.1998.00337.x/full
              https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705355/

    3. I’m also wondering about the cyanide risk. The national food agency in Sweden advice people against eating ANY ground flax seeds because it contains substances that can create cyanide. They claim that 1-2 tablespoons of whole flax seeds per day is safe, but no ground flax seeds at all.

      I have until recently been eating ground flaxseed daily in smoothies, but I got a bit worried after reading this.

      Link (in Swedish): http://www.livsmedelsverket.se/livsmedel-och-innehall/oonskade-amnen/vaxtgifter/cyanogena-glykosider-och-vatecyanid/

      1. This is from the Flax Council Of Canada Read the part about Vegans and iodine. http://flaxcouncil.ca/resources/nutrition/general-nutrition-information/flax-in-a-vegetarian-diet/prudent-use-of-flax/

        Balance your diet – Be sure you eat uncooked flax as part of a balanced diet. For healthy people, who consume raw ground flax seed daily in a balanced diet, no health problems are likely. 1 You must be diligent about eating a varied diet in order to supply the body with enzymes. Enzymes supplied by other foods protect against the buildup in the body of unhealthy compounds.

        Illness from eating too much uncooked flax seed, in a diet with little variety, can arise because flax seeds are among 12,000 plant seeds 2(cited in 1) , such as almonds and cassava, which contain moderate amounts of natural compounds called cyanogenic glucosides. These glucosides occur naturally in many plants. A 1993 study by Cunanne 3(cited in 1) of healthy, female subjects eating 50 grams (1/4 cup equals 45 grams) of flax daily, showed no increase in glucoside buildup.

        In an unbalanced diet, one which is based mainly on a plant containing cyanogens, a concentration of the cyanogenic compounds can build up in the body, leading to unpleasant and, on o
        ccasion, life-threatening reactions. Such a buildup has been documented in populations relying solely on a staple such as cassava in their diet. In these cases, the illness-causing deposits were not blocked by enzymes supplied by other foods in the diet.

        Cook a portion of your flax seed – Cyanogenic compounds are made harmless by cooking. Thus, eating cooked foods, such as muffins that contain flax seed, is quite safe.

        An analysis of muffins containing 25 grams of flax each, showed no detectable levels of cyanogenic glucosides after baking for 15 to 18 minutes at 230°C (400°F). 4(cited in 1)

        Be careful about your iodine intake – Vegans must also be alert to another potential health problem that can occur. The cyanogenic glucosides found in flax can interfere with the way the body uses iodine. Lack of iodine can lead to goiter. Your concern should be greatest when the level of iodine in your diet is low. 5(cited in 6) Iodine requires an Adequate Intake of 150 mcg/day 7 , and availability varies. In Canada, 1/4 tsp. of iodized salt provides 67 mcg of iodine. In the United States, only some table salt is iodized. In Britain, no salt is iodized. (7)

        References

        Morris D, Vaisey-Genser M. Flaxseed: Health, nutrition and functionality. Winnipeg: Flax Council of Canada; 1997.pp 57-9.
        McMahon JM, White WLB and Sayre RT. Cyanogenesis in cassava. J.Exp.Botany 1995. 46:731-41.
        Dieken HA. Use of flaxseed as a source of omega-3 fatty acids in human nutrition. Proc. Flax Inst. 1992; 54:1-4.
        Cunnane SC, Ganguli S, Menard C, Liede AC, Hamadeh MJ, Chen Z-Y, Wolever TMS and Jenkins DJA. High alpha-linolenic acid flaxseed ( Linum usitatissimum ): Some nutritional properties in humans. Br.J.Nutr.1993:69:443-53.
        Institute of Medicine. Dietary reference intakes for vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington: National Academy Press. pp 290-393 (iron); 258-89 (iodine).
        Morris D. Flax: A health and nutrition primer. Winnipeg: Flax Council of Canada; 2003. p 79.
        Davis B, Melina V. Becoming vegan. Summertown: Book Publishing Co; 2000. p 116.

        1. Re supplemental Iodine

          Some seaweeds are high in Iodine e.g. Kelp.
          I add ground Kelp to sea salt.
          Too much Iodine isn’t advisable so it is necessary to calculate how much to add.
          In my case the kelp contains 0.05g/100g so I add 3g (approx. 1 flat teaspoon) to 250g of Sea Salt to provide 52 micrograms/5g salt.
          I consume approx. 5g of sea salt/day as per the RDI (more in summer).
          I also eat fish regularly.
          My Iodine level, in recent blood-tests, was fine.
          I haven’t eaten ‘iodised table salt’ for decades.
          Although there is no science to support the need for the micro-minerals found in sea water I figure I have it covered just in case.

        2. Thanks! So in the article from Flax Council it says:

          “An analysis of muffins containing 25 grams of flax each, showed no detectable levels of cyanogenic glucosides after baking for 15 to 18 minutes at 230°C (400°F). 4(cited in 1)”

          But do we actually know the time and temperature required to get rid of the cyanogenic glucosides? For example if I put flax seeds in my oatmeal and cook for 3-4 minutes at 100°C, does that make a difference?

      2. ErikS: Your question has come up a lot lately. I think the following answer from Tuffs is helpful in evaluating this question:
        .
        “Lynne M. Ausman, DSc, RD, director of the Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition Program at Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, says you have nothing to worry about. Many foods, including not only flax but cashews, almonds, some beans and other plant products, naturally contain very small amounts of cyanide compounds. You’re more likely to ingest these trace amounts of cyanide when such foods are consumed raw, as heat breaks down the compounds. Even when flaxseed is eaten raw, the body has a natural capacity to break down a certain amount of these cyanide compounds. A 1994 study found that, in healthy individuals, daily consumption of as much as 60 grams of raw flaxseed—more than eight tablespoons—was safe” from: http://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/7_8/ask-experts/ask-tufts-experts_1157-1.html
        .
        Since Dr. Greger recommends only 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed in his Daily Dozen recommendations, it seems to me that it is all good – a large safety margin *and* a huge amount of potential benefit from the flax.
        .
        For the gritty details, check out: ​https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4754328/
        .
        FYI: I heard that Dr. Greger will be doing a video on this topic at some point, so stay tuned!

      3. There’s a long list of references to papers in mostly international journals near the bottom of that web page. May be worth looking into the question of cyanide before consuming a quarter cup ground flaxseed per day!

    4. Not so fast there Pancho (a.k.a. Plantstrongdoc M.D.); it might not be as good as it looks at first glance:

      – the criteria for admission to the trial was Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) for >6 months with an ankle brachial index 2 yrs at the start of the trial. 1 death and 9 myocardial events during the 6 month trial period seems a bit over the odds?

      – participants continued to take various blood pressure/sugar/heart medicines throughout the course of the trial.

      – the authors of the report caution that,”Four components within flaxseed may be responsible for the changes in BP: ALA, lignans, fiber, peptides, or a synergistic action of all 4 components together. “. In other words, causality was not identified.
      Presumably lowering hypertension is a proxy for lowering cardiac events.
      Comparing Esselstyn’s ‘Heart Reversal’ trial with the above; Esselstyn added fibre, removed all oil, removed all animal products plus tweaked a few other variables and achieved a reduction in heart dysfunction. Rodriguez-Leyva et al increased fibre, added oil plus a few other things and reduced BP in hypertensive patients (heart outcomes negative or not known?) The two protocols don’t equate do they?
      I am also aware of another respectable surgeon who also achieved improved heart outcomes with a totally different dietary regime altogether.
      I would like to reconcile these apparent dietary dilemmas.
      What does ‘the Mother of all Diets’ actually look like?

      1. Rada have you ever read anything from Dr. Furhman? I think his work is really interesting. Basically the more fruits, veggies, beans, greens you eat the better. He approaches it in a way that most on the SAD can understand. 1. Stop processed foods. Add fruit and veggies.

        You might find your answer somewhere in one of his books.

        1. Ms WFPBRunner.

          Yes, I did find Dr Furhman interesting so that was very perceptive of you.
          I am interested in ‘nutrient density’ and I do eat quite a lot of raw vege plus some fruit/nuts.
          My main interest in that area is based around the nutrients in raw food versus cooked food, especially enzymes but I have a long way to go on that subject.
          He is very similar to Dr Grundy, whom I also like.
          I think Dr Linus Pauling was the original. He was known for his high Vit C supplementation although his work went far beyond that.
          I think that today it only survives as the Orthomolecular Organisation.
          http://orthomolecular.org/index.shtml
          I haven’t read any of their material (it’s on my very long reading list).

          P.S before you mentioned vitiligo I saw it mentioned as being associated with leaky gut/auto-immune diseas but I cant find it again. It wasn’t a substantial reference. Thought I would mention it just in case.
          Hope a cure works out for you.

          1. Rada that is so kind of you to remember my vitiligo. Nothing working yet but it isn’t that bad. I just saw an integrated doctor who ran all kinds of crazy blood work. She seemed very knowledgeable and curious about me so we shall see! She is running the omega 3 which I was curious about.

            I believe I did have a leaky gut many years ago when I first started on this adventure of food as medicine. That was so long ago that if I still have that I would be surprised. I gave up dairy 8 years ago and WFPB for over 4 years.

            1. hi WFPBRunner, I saw the talk about vitiligo and thought I would mention briefly that I wzs searching for information as well in past years. I had read about a supposed auto-immune connection between vitiligo, hypothyroid disease, and dry eye disease. My mom had vitiligo and hashimoto’s, my sister has dry eye auto immune disease, and i suffered for years with gut issues . I am tested for thyroid regularly but, seems my test came back normal this time , and my severe gut issues healed quickly once i dropped the dairy. If i come across any interesting info in my travels, I will be sure to post it. All the best to you !

    5. Just a passing by idea. Like in brown rice and arsenic, the cadmium in flax seeds could be found in the hull. Maybe someone know the location (hull or kernel) of cadmium or cyanide

    6. Plantstrongdoc: I don’t know about cadmium, but I recently came upon the following information and am passing it on to anyone asking about cyanide and flaxseeds:
      .
      “Lynne M. Ausman, DSc, RD, director of the Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition Program at Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, says you have nothing to worry about. Many foods, including not only flax but cashews, almonds, some beans and other plant products, naturally contain very small amounts of cyanide compounds. You’re more likely to ingest these trace amounts of cyanide when such foods are consumed raw, as heat breaks down the compounds. Even when flaxseed is eaten raw, the body has a natural capacity to break down a certain amount of these cyanide compounds. A 1994 study found that, in healthy individuals, daily consumption of as much as 60 grams of raw flaxseed—more than eight tablespoons—was safe” from: http://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/7_8/ask-experts/ask-tufts-experts_1157-1.html
      .
      Since Dr. Greger recommends only 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed in his Daily Dozen recommendations, it seems to me that it is all good – a large safety margin *and* a huge amount of potential benefit from the flax.
      .
      For the gritty details, check out: ​https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4754328/
      .
      FYI: I heard that Dr. Greger will be doing a video on this topic at some point, so stay tuned!

    1. Flax milk would definitely be better than dairy milk. However, if you’re buying store-bought flax milk, those flax seeds were likely ground many days before you actually consume it, and those seeds may not be as potent as freshly ground ones. Also, consider that flax milk is mostly water, along with some flax, so you’re probably not consuming a lot of flax with each serving. I would suggest adding some ground flax seeds to your morning oatmeal in addition to your flax milk for a healthier start to your day.

    1. Joe, Dr Greger states in the article that during the trial described they used “a quarter cup of ground flax seeds”. Tom has posted some excellent comments and links worth viewing also, below in the comment section.

      1. For people using SI units – 1/4 cup=36g of flax seeds. I think this arbitrary measurements ( cups, spoons ( and their fractions) etc ) must end. It is not translatable nor precise.

        1. It’s because I bake/cook , and it is how I use flax seed as an ingredient. Cups, tablespoons etc mean everything to me.. its how I work in the kitchen.. and most people here are asking questions on how to include flax in food made at home.. not in the lab.

            1. hahaha thats hilarious! I guess it is just because the kitchen is my domain, and I have worked with these measures in cooking all of my life. Where I live , virtually every kitchen has a measuring cup and spoons. My own digital kitchen scale sits in the back of a drawer for want of a battery. It will probably never again see the light of day lol

    2. In Dr Greger’s ‘Daily Dozen’ he recommends 1 Tbsp (10 g) a day of flax seed meal (that is, finely ground seeds). That’s for general health, not necessarily for the best effects on blood pressure.

  2. You did not mention what was the best way to ingest flax seeds. I understand the oil is garbage and the best way is to crush fresh flaxseed daily. Also in what amounts?

    1. Yes, the best way to consume flax seeds is to grind them daily (in a coffee grinder or spice grinder). See discussion above which suggests 2 Tbsp daily. In the experiment used in today’s blog post, the subjects consumed 1/4 C daily.

        1. Hi Notafanatic,

          Some people suggest sprinkling them over food but that doesn’t appeal to me.
          You can also add cracked seeds to bread, muffins et. c.
          Personally, I would rather use sesame seeds for flavour in baking but each to their own.

          My preferred method is to put them in a smoothie.
          Using a small hi-speed, hi-powered blender I grind them first in a small amount of water, say, 1 tablespoon/20g to start off (use trial and error to settle on the amount you like)
          I find it takes quite a while to blend them into a paste (it takes longer than anticipated).
          They are a mucilaginous seed so they add thickness to imitation milk.
          Once they are blended to your satisfaction add the remaining ingredients plus some more water/ice.

          Example – to make a smoothie without milk, soya milk or commercial milks;

          – blend water + flax seeds
          – add small amount of cashews, frozen ripe banana, water/ice (optional) and your good to go
          – (flavouring,sweeteners and raw egg are optional).

          It’s brown and a bit gritty but if you are used to wholefoods, non-white ‘milk’ and low sugar it’s great.

          I have been on protocols where I cant eat nuts but can eat eggs and I have enjoyed it without cashews.

          Note: some authorities advice not to eat raw eggs owing to the possibility of salmonella infection.

        2. Notafanatic: Most people add the ground flax to their morning oatmeal or smoothie as it works particularly well and that way you just “get it done.”

          But note that I have found that adding ground flaxseed works fine for many dishes: soups, salads, casseroles, inside sandwhiches, etc. It doesn’t work for everything, but it works fine for a surprising larger array of dishes. This way, you don’t have to plan ahead of time what you are going to put your flaxseed into. It just works with whatever else you generally have planned.

          The key to making it work for me is to not add too much at once and to add it last minute. If I incorporate the flax ahead of time or cook it into a say casserole, then the texture of the dish I’m making often enough gets messed up (for me).

          The same holds for oatmeal. I typically make a big pot of oatmeal on the weekends and eat it throughout the week. If I incorporate the flax into the pot of oatmeal on the weekend, I don’t like what it does to the texture of the dish. (Other people may love it. I’m just sharing a work-around in case you are more like me.) So, I sprinkle the flax on at the last minute for each bowl of oatmeal I’m about to eat. When I do that, I don’t really notice the flax. (Though note that I’m not putting all that much on.)
          .
          In terms of a system: I fill up an old peanut butter jar with ground flaxseed and keep it in the fridge. I then sprinkle the stuff on whatever I want through the week.
          .
          Bonus tip that may be completely irrelevant: My dog *loves* ground flaxseed paste. I poor some ground flaxseed in a cup and add water and stir until there is a paste. He laps it up and wants more!

      1. I am in general agreement, but I would warn that both flax and chia are extremely top heavy in omega-3 fatty acids which is why they help so much when added to a Western diet. However, I had a patient who got very sick as a result of eating several tablespoons of chia a day over a long period of time, without having sufficient amounts of omega-6 fatty acids in her diet. If you are going to include much flax or chic seeds in the diet, include avocado, grains and possibly a limited amount of nuts to supply sufficient omega-6 fatty acids. Don’t eat oil seeds regularly. Too much of either omega-3’s or omega-6’s is unhealthy. If your diet includes just fruit, green vegetables, and root vegetables, then no flax or chia seeds are needed at all. If grains are included then only about 2 teaspoons of chia or flax per person per meal is sufficient. If nuts, other than macadamia, are used, you will need an amount of flax seeds equal to the weight of the nuts being eaten to balance the omegas. However, too much flax might possibly be toxic. Normal amounts should be safe. Chia seeds are fine. I hope this helps.

        1. Dr Howard,

          I’m glad you opened this can of worms ….. sooner or later it has to be sorted out (I.M.O our choice of fats to consume is where the rubber hits the road so it is a very important topic).
          Dr Ray Peat (PhD, biochemist at raypeat dot com) claims that the polyunsaturated fats (PUFA’s), including fish oils, are a health hazard because after being utilised in the body they oxidise and cause problems.
          Against that we have the vexing question of the essential oils (like vitamin B12 we need them but we cant make them?) It is hard to believe that Mother Nature (evolution) would shepherd us into a dead end like that i.e. a dependence on supplements.
          Further to that some say that the body can not efficiently convert vegetable ALA and that in practise we need to consume some omega 3 from marine sources.

          I would appreciate it if you could share your opinion on the above points.

          Re: (seeds and their oils)

          I am reluctant to eat too eat nuts because of the high PUFA content but I do include them for their nutrient and energy density (they are easy to carry and stave off the hunger pangs on my travels (not being hungry makes it easier to drive past Maccas).
          I noticed that the lipid profile varies from seed to seed (nut to nut) and using the USD standard reference database I am able to balance the lipid profile by combining various nuts and seeds into a custom mix e.g. I use cashews to make imitation cream because they are white, have a mild flavour and have a low PUFA profile compared to most other nuts/seeds. I also add some coconut oil to my cashew cream to increase the saturated + monounsaturated/polyunsaturated ratio.
          Some people don’t recommend eating coconut oil but I am not experiencing any adverse effects that I am aware of I guess it comes down to our blood-tests to prove if it is harmful or not?

  3. Since my blood pressure rises and falls throughout the day by many points, how is it even possible to talk about what my “normal” blood pressure is? When I first wake up? In the doctor’s office? After supper? And if normal blood pressure is problematic, then certainly numbers about what flaxseed or meds can do are equally problematic. And for whom? Numbers give the illusion of certainty as though our baseline was constant and we were all the same. It is generally true that a low fat plant based diet will lead to a healthier life, but even that it is not specifically true and may not be true for me or you. That is the problem with treating nutrition and medicine as though they were hard science.

    1. petersteiner: Someone recently described on this site the proper process for determining blood pressure is to take an average of numbers which are collected at multiple points throughout a day – over many days.
      .
      Also described on this site (and you can look it up elsewhere) is real life experience of people going on a WPFB diet and either dramatically reducing or completely eliminating their blood pressure meds – after *days* of healthy eating. Here is a link to a comment from Dr. “Hemodynamic” who recently helped out with the Dr. McDougall immersion program: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/animal-protein-pregnancy-and-childhood-obesity/#comment-2974952122 Check out those results!
      .
      Of course, eating a healthy diet is not a guarantee of just about anything. But the science is there to back up the concept that eating a healthy diet maximizes your chances of being healthy and even arresting or reducing the health problems you already have. (http://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-not-to-die) When I look at the information we have gathered and the percentages of people helped, that’s some pretty hard science to me.

      I’ll put it one other way in case it will help: The science we have backing a Whole Plant Food Based as the healthiest diet for the general human population is as strong as the science we have showing that smoking is unhealthy and promotes cancer and other health problems. Most people (though not everyone) acknowledges that smoking is unhealthy and they accept the science as “hard” enough to act on. It would be consistent to act on the science regarding nutrition the same way.

      1. I wonder how common my situation is.

        I’m just about to turn 62 and have been eating either vegetarian or vegan most of my life. I follow Dr Grieger’s Daily Dozen which includes a tablespoon of ground flax seed and I try to keep my salt intake low. I am very active and rarely ill with no colds or allergies.

        Yet for many years my morning BP has been high in the morning and goes down in the evenings…..ranges from 160/100- 115/75….with an approx average of 135/90. I’ve watched it occasionally and haven’t been able to detect any patterns.

            1. As we age, It is easier to maintain hydration by increasing the intake of unrefined, mined, sea salt to two to three grams a day total salt intake. However, before increasing your salt intake check with your doctor to make sure that you don’t have any specific conditions (not just a general policy that low salt is good statement) that might present a problem. You can check if your hydration is low by pressing on the front of your finger tip and if it doesn’t pop back out quickly, you’re hydration is low. Low hydration stresses the kidneys so please keep hydration properly maintained. If you try this and your BP goes up, stop immediately. If it goes down, you might want to continue it. I older and I find that water doesn’t seem to taste good unless I have sufficient ingested amounts of salt. If I have sufficient salt in my body then water tastes much better and I can maintain my hydration.

              1. Hi Dr Howard,

                Thanks for your very interesting contribution to the discussion.

                Re your statement: “As we age, It is easier to maintain hydration by increasing the intake of unrefined, mined, sea salt to two to three grams a day total salt intake.”

                Some commentators are saying that salt is ‘bad’ for our health.
                I have done some reading, and taking note of my intake/health et. c and came to the conclusion that I need salt, that it is, at worst, harmless in amounts up to the RDI (as it is water soluble and it is a normal function of the kidneys to excrete it). In my case I am an active person and live in a hot humid climate (I noticed that the rim oof my gardening hat is caked with a white band, presumably salt!)
                Interestingly, when I did a count of my salt intake I was very low as a result of following a ‘health food diet’ which didn’t include much processed food. Other ‘health fooders’ may well be in the same boat.

                How did you arrive at the 2-3 grams mark?
                In the summer I take more because I think it is better to be over than under (I have tested my urine and I know that I just quickly dump excess salt not long after consuming it).
                I.M.O the unknowns are individual variations, whether a body low in Sodium will adapt and use Potassium for driving perspiration, environment and how much we consume in our foods (some foods are high in sodium).

                Re: ” If you try this (adding salt) and your BP goes up, stop immediately. If it goes down, you might want to continue it. ”

                As I understand it, salt will not harm healthy individuals but it may increase blood pressure in people who are already hypertensive.
                Is that correct?

        1. Julie, that’s great that you’ve been following Dr. G’s daily dozen and doing a veg diet most of your life. Are you consuming oils? If so, the fat from oils could be preventing nitric oxide from being released from your arteries’ inner lining, causing hardening and narrowing of your arteries and therefore elevated BP. Are you eating tons of leafy greens? Leafy greens work opposite of oils and help the release of nitric oxide and allow your arteries to dilate and therefore lower your BP. I hope that helps!

          1. thanks Stephanie: I don’t eat oil when I’m doing my own cooking which is most of the time. And my green intake is pretty good with lots of kale, chard, lettuce etc..

            1. You may not be getting enough exercise. Using a rebounder may help. Read one of Albert Carter’s books and see if it might be appropriate. They’re easy to use, don’t take up much time, and are very effective. If you buy one, get the best that you can afford and make sure you buy one with a safety bar.

        2. I’m just going to throw this out there and see what you guys think: Other than the moral argument, why do people distinguish between vegetarian and meat eaters? How is eggs, milk, butter, cream, and cheese “healthier” than eating lean meat? IMO, it isn’t.

          1. Hi Baggman744,
            Dr. Greger referenced in his book the large British study that showed that plain yogurt and kefir led to longer lives. Other animal foods did not, so in this aspect, there would be a difference.
            John S

            1. I eat a plain non fat hormone free Greek yogurt daily. I would use organic, but it’s cost prohibitive right now. Thanks for the reply.

              1. Hi bagman744,

                Just buy the good milk and make your own. It’s very easy.

                In recent decades there has been a lot of changes in our food such that the risk of man-made additives is now equal to the risk of poor nutrition.
                I’m using a concept I call ‘defensive eating’ which in simple terms means I don’t fully trust altered food unless I make it myself.
                It’s time consuming and inconvenient though.

                On the plus side; some risk factors don’t make it through production from the milk to the yogurt, or cheese. We just don’t know which ones but growth factor is one of them (not present in cheese?). All in all low consumption, of standard yoghurt, is not likely to be high risk.

                In my area I pay a high premium for organic produce but my overall weekly food bill is about the same bpots ecause I save on junk food, takeaway and make my own.
                It’s also pretty easy to grow some minor veges/herbs et. c in pots on a window sill, or patio and save some money that way.
                Another cost saver is to make our own rice flour in a small grinder or blender.

                1. Appreciate the reply and the suggestions. I think we all pay too high a premium for organic. While I acknowledge the process is slightly more laborious, and the yields slightly lower than conventional, frankly, organic is just a license to gouge consumers. And there’s no guarantee that it’s really organic. I’ve read many reports that tested organic produce and found the same synthetic pesticides as conventional. As one food writer put it, “factory farming is factory farming…”

                2. Dr Campbell and others, in research over 60 years, much of it at Cornell, and in conjunction with Oxford University and China, have shown many times that dairy and meat of all kinds, but especially protein from dairy, stimulate the growth of many cancers. Stopping the animal protein stops cancer growth. Adding it back into the diet stimulates cancer growth again. That’s enough for me. Following chemo for an aggressive breast cancer, it began growing very quickly again when I started eating cheese after having no animal foods for several months.

                  1. Hi Rebecca,

                    Sorry to hear about your affliction … I’ll say a little prayer for you (Aretha Franklin?)

                    I understand your conviction but forgive me if I don’t join your campaign against dairy.
                    I have learnt the hard way not to decide for others what they should or should not be eating … no one listens to advice anyway (advice is only for those who seek it).
                    Everyday my wife (my lifelong partner) sends me to the shop to buy milk and cheese for her so you can see why I prefer to stay objective and not take it personally.

                    Re:”my cancer grows faster when I eat cheese”.

                    As I understand it, the IGF in dairy does not promote cancer but rather it is the bio-actives in the milk.
                    I am interested to know which compounds, exactly, are stimulating endogenous IGF production in people who eat dairy and what percentage of those compounds, if any, flows through to dairy products in general, and ultimately specific products, so that I can opt to eat some dairy from a list of those with the lowest risk for cancer growth e.g some of the bio-actives might be water soluble and get thrown out with the whey when cheese is made.
                    Further to that I believe it comes down to the amount consumed.
                    I think there is some science on how some dairy stimulates endogenous IGF production in people and how much that increases in the blood with time.

                    Also, Soy protein stimulates IGF production in people as well … perhaps some other vege/legume/seed proteins do likewise?

                    I think in the future demand will lead to production of dairy products with the risks removed.

                    1. The cancer is gone now. That was over six years ago, but I appreciate your little prayers for me. Yours and Aretha’s!

                      Of course we all have the right to make up our own minds about what to eat and why. It took me many years to accept the hazards of eating animal protein and even longer to realize the truth of the danger of consuming oils and other fats beyond what is in nuts, seeds, avocados and other vegetables. But the science is powerful, especially when you realize how Dr. Greger works to be certain the research he uses is not somebody’s agenda for selling one thing or another. You can learn about that here: nutritionfacts.org/video/behind-the-scenes-at-nutritionfacts-org/

                      I would refer you to Dr T Colin Campbell to perhaps be able to answer your questions. His hallmark is integrity and working to find answers, not to serve the commercial wishes of those who paid the bills, but to find the truth. His research, which was government sponsored, showed, over and over for many years, that the protein in dairy causes cancer to grow and stopping it causes it to stop growing. That was in rats, and of course, not all research results achieved with animals translate to humans. However, in his research in China he verified the same thing happened when people ate meat. The counties where people ate more meat had more cancer. Less meat, less or almost no cancer. It became very clear that animal protein of all kinds stimulates cancer growth.

                      The soy that causes problems seems to be the highly processed things like protein powders and TVP, which I avoid.

                      You will find information on how TOR from animal protein also stimulates cancer on this video: nutritionfacts.org/video/prevent-cancer-from-going-on-tor/ and this blog entry: nutritionfacts.org › Dr. Greger’s Medical Nutrition Blog.

                      Of course, not everybody who eats dairy will get cancer. But those products also strongly contribute to heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure and autoimmune diseases, among other maladies.

                    2. Great reply Rebecca. And thank goodness you cleared up that you have been cancer free for 6 years. I was all worried

          2. It is the source, not necessarily which food. Your dairy could be completely worthless, just like your meat, conversely both might have many benefits, if the source and production of the food isn’t adulterated with all the toxic processes of the food industry.

            1. Doesnt matter Andrew, animal protein is not a good thing to include in our diets http://nutritionfacts.org/2013/02/14/animal-protein-and-igf-1/ . There are many videos on this site that explain why . Endotoxins are present in meat regardless of how the animal was raised. As an ex-rancher, I embrace the wfpb healthy lifestyle. Rebecca Cody provides a powerful testimony above, and there are many similar ones on the prostate health pages of this site.

          3. baggman744,

            re: ‘vegetarians and animal products’.

            In recent years some have taken to re-defining the health groups and this is causing confusion (alas it is now a ‘wikiality’ so it is likely to remain).

            The original, and the best, definitions are:

            – a Vegetarian does not eat animal products of any kind;
            – Lacto-vegetarians do not eat animal products except for dairy;
            – Ovo-vegetarians do not eat animal products except for eggs;
            and then, of course, there are Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians

            Vegeatarians generally avoid processed foods and favour whole-foods.

            Veganism is the philosophy of not harming animals and so that means they tend to favour plain old vanilla flavoured Vegetarianism.
            And then there is the flesh-eaters, currently known as Paleo’s (Vegetarians are at war with them).

            Some Vegans believe it is O.K to harm people in the course of saving animals.

            1. Appreciate the clarification of traditional definitions. I’m uncomfortable saying this, but I have to. I have beloved family members who are animal lovers. In fact, members of the humane society, that regularly eat dairy. Now, I myself am no food bully. If asked, I’ll give information, not advise. I said to them, have you ever seen a hormone and antibiotic injected cow, encased in a tight steel cage, not allowed to move, force fed an unnatural diet of GMO corn, forced to give milk daily? Gross. Anyway, just my personal pet peeve. Horse… water… ?

              1. baggman,

                Re: “have you ever seen a hormone and antibiotic injected cow, encased in a tight steel cage, not allowed to move, force fed an unnatural diet of GMO corn, forced to give milk daily?”

                That’s not humane.

                Spiritual impetus sets us apart from our fellow mankind and to some extent we live apart from them.
                This leads us unto compassion and tolerance.

        3. Julie: I don’t know enough to comment on your situation. It looks like others are jumping in to help. Whew! You have made a series of really great, helpful posts on this site. I hope someone is able to help you in return.

        4. Julie, normal blood pressure has a daily pattern. It is usually low in the morning, rises until about the afternoon, and then falls during the night. I don’t mean to alarm you, but if your blood pressure is always high in the morning then you may want to discuss this with your physician.
          http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/expert-answers/blood-pressure/faq-20058115

          Before you conclude that your morning BP is high, take several measurements over, for example, a 30 min period. When you feel anxious about something your BP rises, hence the multiple measurements. All BP measurements must be performed under the same conditions, especially body position.

          Most medical offices will compare your personal BP monitor to their office BP monitor for no charge. Home arm cuff BP monitors are, in general, more accurate than wrist monitors.

          1. Thanks Gatherer: My blood pressure-taking procedure is pretty consistent and am using a monitor that has been compared with a doctor’s office. I will take your advice about several measurements over a 30 minute period, instead of basically one after another.

        5. Julie-I went on an L-V Diet-and my reaction to perfumes or any aromatic hydrocarbon-caused an elrvated Blood Pressure-and when I returned to a “normal”diet-eating 1 sat. fat per week-my BP returned to normal.My concl-that a Veg. diet can cause more harm than good-;^))-sincerely-v152

        6. There are causes of elevated Blood pressure that aren’t related to vascular health. With an early AM elevated BP that comes down during the day I’d want to at least look in to the possibility of sleep apnea.

        7. Julie, I discovered by chance that I have morning hypertension. It really is a thing. I’m 62 years old. It happens in older people, it sometimes is related to sleep apnea, but not always. I don’t have any sleep disorders. It is probably very underdiagnosed because how often does an individual have their blood pressure taken first thing in the morning?

          Read “The Risk of Waking Up: Impact of the Morning Surge in Blood Pressure” (http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/55/4/835.long)

          My doctor was bothering me to drug up because I was showing quite high BP numbers in their office. My normal daily reading would be 133/81 with a heart rate of 55 — elevated, but not officially hypertension. I insisted I have white coat hypertension, but I agreed to journal my BP numbers for a couple of weeks and the doc ordered a serum test of Plasma Renin activity/ Aldosterone level Ratio at my request. I eat very low sodium, so that took that variable out of my BP equation. When I checked my BP first thing in the morning I was quite shocked, 165/92 with a 50 bpm HR.

          I learned that hyperventilating for a minute or so would lower blood pressure if I had elevated norepinephrine levels and figured that was causing my morning hypertension. I took over-the-counter 3mg melatonin tablets, and that controlled the problem quite well, though I woke up groggy. My renin numbers came back normal and my aldosterone numbers came back normal, so that pointed even further that norepinephrine was the problem.

          I tried a prescription of 1mg doxazosin in the evening and that controlled it about as well as a melatonin and without grogginess. Then I tried 0.1mg clonidine and that was extremely powerful. I was getting numbers like 110/73. I cut it in half to a dose of just 0.05mg and that’s been the perfect dose.

          “Therapeutic effects of evening administration of guanabenz and clonidine on morning hypertension: evaluation using home-based blood pressure measurements” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12658028)

    2. “It is generally true that a low fat plant based diet will lead to a healthier life, but even that it is not specifically true and may not be true for me or you.” Okay, I’m missing something here. Who is it true for that a low fat WFPB diet won’t lead to a healthier life? Fill me in on this please. Are these the same people who are healthier because they smoke? I’ve been reading this website for years now and I’m trying to figure out what I missed.

      1. I’m completely for whole plant foods diets but someone posted a link in the comments at one point which discussed how the diet won’t work with people that have certain genetics that effect enzymes and nutrient absorption. But overall? Hell yeah, WFPB all the way!

  4. I have recently introduced flax seed to my diet initially for cateracts I have been following a vegan diet for some years and came across Dr Greger via Viva in the UK an organisation promoting vegetarian and vegan lifestyle and compassion towards all living beings. I was not aware of the impact of flax on blood pressure. I have been prescibed amlodipine for many years and can report that since using flax seed in my diet over the last two months my systolic blood pressure dropped remarkably from 140 to 128 and 124.The medication could not achieve this.What I also noted was my pulse rate at rest was always around 95 and my doctor was never concerned.However since using flax my pulse rate also lowered to around 68 and 70. By the way I am 65 and follow a mainly plant based diet. Flax is an amazing food.

    1. Wow, all that good stuff just from a little flax? That’s remarkable. Thanks for sharing. Always of value to hear personal experiences. Continued good health to you and the little seed that could.

      1. Thanks for that it just shows how much we underestimate the health benefits of a plant based diet and something as small as flax seeds.

  5. I will add my two cents in confirming that flax seed has had a very positive affect on my blood pressure and, I don’t have high blood pressure! My blood pressure is now usually 105/65. I use fresh ground flax seed in my smoothie every morning along with a heaping helping of hemp seeds, turmeric (don’t forget the pepper) and cinnamon. All of my indicators are positive. Thanks Dr. G.!

  6. I would also like to add that I have been prescribed amlodipine 10 mg calcium channel blocker for over 20 years and have never had systolic readings as low as this since using milled flax seeds about one to two spoonfuls daily in food or smoothies. I take my blood pressure readings around the same time each day.

    1. As mentioned a coffee grinder will work. I don’t have one and simply use my high powered blender to blend 1kg at a time. I place the ground flax seed into an opaque container and then store in the fridge.

  7. CoQ10 lowers bp as well. Three clinical trials with a total of 96 participants were evaluated for the effects of coenzyme Q10 on blood pressure compared to placebo. Treatment with coenzyme Q10 in subjects with systolic BP (SBP) > 140 mmHg or diastolic BP (DBP) > 90 mmHg resulted in mean decreases in SBP of 11 mmHg (95% CI 8, 14) and DBP of 7 mmHg (95% CI 5, 8).
    CoQ10 also strenghtens the heart, improves cardiac function and reduces cardiovascular mortality (by 43% in Q-symbio clinical trial and by 54% in KiSel-10 clinical trial). I read about the information on the blood pressure trials at q10facts.com

      1. Hi Rebecca, statins don’t destruct CoQ10, however, in that they block/inhibit HMG-CoA reductase, which is required in the production of CoQ1 in your liver. Therefore, you can say they block the production of CoQ10 rather than destruct CoQ10. Clinical trials will assess for such things as medication taken by subjects and the researchers control for the effect of statins or will ensure that the subjects are not on statins during the duration of the trial. Here is a link to the trial: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19821418. And here is a link to the article: http://www.q10facts.com/high-blood-pressure-a-problem/

        1. KB, I knew I wasn’t saying it quite right at the time I wrote that, and I knew some smart soul would come along and fix it all up, so thank you. I’m really not a science geek at all, couldn’t even manage Chemistry 1, but maybe I could now, since I’ve read so much about nutrition over the last 50+ years. By the way, it’s destroy, not destruct. Sorry, but the editor in me never stays under wraps for long.

  8. Want the same effect without the expense or possible risk of flax? Here’s one study among many (low study size however):

    Isometric exercise training lowers resting blood pressure.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1501558

    “all eight trained subjects had a significant decline in both systolic and diastolic resting blood pressures, with group averages of 12.5 and 14.9 mm Hg, respectively”

    Hand grip training only took minutes a day 3-5 days a week at only 30% of maximum effort. Hand grip devices can be had for about $8-12. Grip strength is also an indicator of health/aging.

      1. There were earlier discussions before my comments on the cadmium/cyanide content of flax. There’s also mixed results on estrogen effects of flax consumption and as I recall both positive and negative studies on effects on the prostate.

          1. I found this summary, for anyone interested. Flaxseed seems beneficial for me with prostate issues:

            http://universityhealthnews.com/daily/nutrition/the-controversial-flax-seed-benefits-your-health-or-not-part-3-of-3/

            “Aside from those “Who Should Avoid Flax” in the aforementioned groups, flaxseed consumption can be healthy, particularly for:

            Men who have a history of prostate disease, including prostate cancer. A study performed by researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center found that men with prostate cancer who ate 3 tablespoons of milled or ground flaxseeds each day had decreased prostate cancer cell proliferation compared to similar men who did not eat flaxseeds.[1] According to the American Cancer Society, men who supplement their diets with flaxseed have lower PSA levels and slower growth of benign as well as cancerous prostate cells.”

            But it also claims that certain hormonally driven cancers, some women might want to avoid or not take too much, but for that see the url.

            1. Hi David, I’m one of the site moderators. Thank you for the link to this useful website. It is important to make the distinction between flax seed and flax oil. Flax seed is important for the lignans contained in the seed that are ingested even when they are ground. The oil, of course does not have the lignans so those benefits are lost. Interestingly, prostate cancer has been shown to decrease in men who ingest the seeds due to the presence of the lignans but can actually increase with ingestion of flax oil as the the high concentrations of ALA type oil can potentiate the growth of the cancer cells. This is an area that requires more research but we would not want people to swap out flax oil for other oils thinking it to be an easier way to take in flax vs. the the ground seeds. Here is an abstract for further reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15051847

  9. This is exciting news that I can share with a dear friend who tests 130/80 regularly. He has taken blood pressure medication for 14 years. He has high cholesterol and extra pounds to lose, yet refuses to go on a plant based diet. I recently bought 3 kilos of organic flaxseed. After reading this article today, I’ve decided to grind a quantity of flaxseed for him. I’ll ask him to eat a tablespoon every day at dinner. When he has a change in his pressure reading, he’ll know the reason why. This is a small adjustment to his eating habits that can make a lifesaving difference. I wasn’t a subscriber when the video on this topic was posted in early 2015, but I’m thrilled to have this information today to pass on to someone who needs it. Thank you, Dr. Greger.

  10. I don’t like flax oil icky taste. The best tasting is from Saskatchewan processed under nitrogen & chock full of Vit. E. At six feet & over 200 lbs. I go through at most a quart a month at eighty cents a day (U$D). I get the most out of it by mouth smooshing with saliva that chops it into free fatty acids for rather rapid, complete absorption. Makes good shakes too. Also eat no sources of trans fat, natural (butter, dairy) or (partially or fully hydrogenated) processed oil too due to nickel arsenite residual catalyst. While I’m at it I avoid the saturated 14 & 16 carbon fatty acids, myristic & palmitic, resp. & cholesterol. All these oils contribute to cardiovascular disease. In 1976 I had atherosclerosis and BP of 130+/90+, not knowing what to do. I found out about trans fats in 1982 and quit eating all sources of them a year later (I could not believe how many food labels showed its presence!). After 2 more months I realized the difference (in my mind) 2 afternoons in a row. AHA! Eureka! Started the flax oil in ’92-93 and in a few years all the plaque was gone as were my premature ventricular contractions (PVCs). Had been taking beta-blockers but not before a treadmill, and fasted. The tech tried to find my pulse & couldn’t (lol, he asked if I could faint). Turned out BP was 70-80/40-50. Dr. said I just had large arteries. Now the beta-blockers have a paradoxical effect of raising my pulse & BP (to normal-no medical source can explain it). I’ve taken 100-200 micrograms daily from calibrated 25 or 50 drops of selenium since ~1974 (from ultrapure selenious acid crystals). When I taste the ‘metallic’ I back off. Conversely when both wrist areas itch & redden (where you check the pulse), time for more. As far as I can say, the aforementioned regimen abrogated my atherosclerosis and promoted my longevity, endurance and mental acuity. As far as what oils I prefer for salad or frying the Canola has the least amount of the deleterious fatty acids. I think I’m allergic to beef and most meats are ‘beefed up’ for the delete column. I think I’ve saved deforestation of fifty or so acres for Arecaceae/palm oil as well as several hundred thousand cubic meters of CO2 from the beef. Guess it’ll soon be time for a houseboat.

  11. Hi All,

    I assume y’all aware that the study highlighted the fact that improved BP was only achieved in hypertensive individuals

    [quote]

    ….severely hypertensive patients will benefit the most from dietary flaxseed. Hypertensive patients with an initial SBP >140 mm Hg responded to dietary flaxseed with an average decrease of 15 mm Hg. In addition, patients with BP values in the normal range did not appear to respond to flaxseed with a decrease in BP, which may be dangerous. This is consistent with previous reports of modest (if any) effects of dietary flaxseed on BP in healthy populations.

    [unquote]

    I don’t know what they mean when they said, “which may be dangerous”, but the rest is self explanatory.

    1. It means that lowering normal blood pressure may be dangerous (ie cause fainting etc). So flax is awesome because it lowers high bp and does not affect normal bp.

      1. Hi VegGuy,

        On reflection, I think you are correct in that they tried to say it is self limiting but just messed up the English.
        I agree that is a good thing although I do have some reservations about people with hypertension self-administering a food that is as powerful as the equivalent drug, especially when we don’t know how it works and haven’t seen enough clinical trials.

  12. In addition to flax and hibiscus, I’ve heard that celery is another power plant with some research supporting it as an anti–hypertension. Does anyone have any info on that research?

    1. Hi Gaia, I’m one of the site moderators. Other than the use of celery as a salt substitute as it has a salty flavor I cannot find anything about it lowering blood pressure. In order to taste celery as “salty” one has to be pretty salt free in your diet for your taste buds to pick up on the subtle flavor. I hope this is helpful. If you find anything from a reputable source that cites celery as an antihypertensive, please do share.

  13. I buy organic golden flax seeds and blend them in my commercial blender (Vitamix etc) and then store them in an opaque tub and keep in the fridge (freezer is also an option).

    This gives me control over the grinding process, ensures that they don’t go rancid due to being kept cold and with no light on them, and also less hassle than having to grind on a daily basis.

  14. Can anyone shed any light on why or how:

    – the flaxseed study under discussion added vegetable oil and fibre (plus some other stuff) and achieved lower BP in hypertensive individuals (long term heart outcomes not known?)
    – Esselstyn removed all oils, removed nuts/avocados, removed all animal products, added veges/fiber, plus a few other things and achieved reversals in heart dysfunction,
    – Dr Grundry (cardiac surgeon, ‘The Diet Evolution’) reduced grains/legumes, added veges/fiber, included nuts, included avocados, added supplements, reduced sugars, removed processed foods, reduced but didn’t exclude eggs, meat and dairy and achieved reversals in heart dysfunction.

    Note that in the flaxseed study, and Esselstyn’s study, patients remained on their medication whereas Dr Grundry changed, and in many cases removed, his patients medication.

    It’s a conundrum!
    I love conundrums …. they always point towards a possible hidden truth :-)

  15. The Swedish Food Administration advise not to eat crushed or ground flaxseed at all because the content of cyanogenic glycosides and hydrogen cyanide. What is your opinion?

    1. Well… my opinion is that I just can’t stand it. For a couple of weeks I start reading about a healthy diet, my main reference being this site. What I found so far: controversies over controversies over controversies, everything is full of ifs and buts, everything is open for revision. Flax seeds looked to be a pillar of dr Greger’s diet. Now, some Swedish authorities tell us to forget about it. In my ideal world, I will lock the entire nutrition scientific community in a room and not let them out until they reach a common conclusion.
      I can sadly imagine 2 ancient human in the African savanna, eating around the fire, asking themselves: “What do you think is more achievable? Walking on that yellow circle from the sky or knowing if what we eat is ok?” Poor them, I bet they never guessed the right answer.

      1. I don’t see any controversy in Dr. G’s message. Yea, on an internet blog with a bunch of trolls you’re going to get everybody’s opinion. And they’re all going to cite some “study” to back up their opinion. Next, look at the people who actually eat a WFPB diet prescribed by Dr. Greger or Dr. McDougall or Dr Esselstyn or Dr. Barnard etc. They’re actually fit and healthy.

        1. The tendency to see personal attacks where they aren’t, may disclose a rather dogmatic attitude (which attitude can be seen in many of this site’s readers, looking at their comments).
          I didn’t say I found a controversy in dr Greger’s message, but in the advice on how to eat healthy, advice coming from different sources (this site included).
          And you can show a superior attitude on “them”, those citing some “study”, but in some cases and in some regards, “they”, those having different opinions than dr Greger’s, are the national diet authorities of Sweden, UK, Australia.

          1. George,

            Well said.

            “And you can show a superior attitude on “them”, those citing some “study”, but in some cases and in some regards, “they”, those having different opinions then dr Greger’s, are the national diet authorities of Sweden, UK, Australia.”

            I don’t agree with a lot of what Dr Greger has to say, or sometimes his emphasis on certain points, but debating every issue would be tedious and over the top for most so I just let it go by. Everyone who has been around ‘health food’ for a while has their own interpretation.
            Sometimes, with the benefit of hindsight some of us realise that some of the ideals we passionately defended in the past were wrong (yikes). Having been there done that a couple of times I no longer tend to be so passionate about it or give advice …. these days I am more flexible and tend only to share resources and opinion from both sides of the fence.

            The regulators are ruling ‘for the masses’ but the majority are just not interested in nutrition.
            A lot of health food people are into Dr bashing but actually the weak link in the health chain is the public, most of whom would not follow nutritional advice if their Dr gave it to them.
            Also, corruption influences all institutions and conservatism means all institutions are lagging behind the cutting edge e.g. regulators advice taking 5g of salt per day (that’s similar in Australia, UK or the good ol USA). That is a reasonable recommendation for the masses but health professionals and health nuts are busy debating if that is correct and/or what type of salt we should consume if any. After 50 yrs I have my own rule on salt but it’s subject to change without notice :-)

        2. Hi Blair,

          Re:”I don’t see any controversy in Dr. G’s message.”

          I disagree. Vegetarian diets and ‘animal rights’ are very controversial topics.
          Further to that how to actually implement a Vegetarian diet is also a controversial topic within itself.
          When the status quo are confronted with a new, minority or divergent view conflict always arises.

          Re: “Yea, on an internet blog with a bunch of trolls you’re going to get everybody’s opinion. And they’re all going to cite some “study” to back up their opinion.”

          I sometimes deliberately post contrary opinion.
          Some people don’t like my ideas and challenge me.
          I enjoy the challenge … it keeps me on my toes and that is when I learn the most.

          Anecdotal evidence is always interesting but not as powerful as concrete evidence so it’s a good thing if people posting contrary opinion include citations.

          I don’t think this ‘forum’ is full of trolls. It’s actually pretty good with everyone sincerely intrested in good health and nutrition.

      2. Hi George,

        Re,”Well… my opinion is that I just can’t stand it. For a couple of weeks I start reading about a healthy diet, my main reference being this site. What I found so far: controversies over controversies over controversies, everything is full of ifs and buts, everything is open for revision. ”

        I am sorry that we are confusing you with our rambunctious discussion. Some of us have been around health food diets a long time and are more interested in niche subjects, others are passionate about their beliefs et. c and we aren’t always thinking about newcomers or lay people :-(

        In some ways Dr Greger isn’t a good place for beginners because he is science orientated and his videos et. c are fast paced and come thick and fast also e.g. flaxseed and the benefits, or not, of say, Lignans, is pretty advanced stuff..
        I think you would be better off with someone like Dr Fuhrman to start as an approach that moves a bit slower and includes pastoral care is better for beginners i.e. a lot of the health sites have good food/bad food lists, example menus and recipes to help beginners get started.
        https://www.drfuhrman.com/

        I’ve been doing this for 50 years and I’m still learning (learning is fun) and I still like to see the ‘health gurus’ example diets … it says a lot about their philosophy and makes it easier to get started.

        At first keep it simple and keep to the middle ground e.g. don’t worry about whether or not you should eat meat, or how much (that will come later). Start with the easy things … give up the junk food et .c and get used to eating more salads/fruit/raw nuts and less sugar.
        Take your time and change one thing at a time.

        Good luck.
        Don’t give up … good health is to important.
        Just find someone else to follow and another forum you like better.

        1. Thanks rada, I always appreciated a bit more contrarian attitude, and it seems you are a contrarian inside a contrarian community, what can be greater than that? :)

          I think much of my frustration comes from the fact that intuitively one wouldn’t assume nutrition is such a complicated thing. But maybe we are not talking about nutrition, but about how human body works, in its smaller details and most complex processes.

          I know everyone here is well-intentioned, dr Greger, forum moderators, we the readers.
          But maybe there are some things that can make a newcomer’s life easier, and my humble suggestions would be:
          – clearly state what’s consensus (and I mean among scientists, not laymen or bloggers) and what’s cutting edge/still in debate/jury is still out – of couse, my assumption (and hope) here is there is such thing as scientific consensus in nutrition matters
          – there are some useful info, advice and remarks in the comments sections; it’s difficult and time consuming to read all comments, maybe what’s useful can be extracted and centralized somewhere
          – keep in mind the element of robustness of a diet (maybe asking for antifragility à la Taleb is too much/not suitable); if we eat 2 tablespoons of flax seeds each day, we really put our hope in that, or, to paraphrase, we put our money where our mouth is; but what if after 30 years of daily flax intake, some involuntarily ironic scandinavians will come and tell us we’ve missed something, there was a side effect of flax, and we just highly increased our risk of X; a better approach would be to eat flax once every 3 days, and use some real substitutes of flax instead, hoping for the same benefits, decentralizing our risks, decreasing the magnitude of an eventual problem

    2. Ursula: Your question has come up a lot lately. I think the following answer from Tuffs is helpful in evaluating this question:
      .
      “Lynne M. Ausman, DSc, RD, director of the Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition Program at Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, says you have nothing to worry about. Many foods, including not only flax but cashews, almonds, some beans and other plant products, naturally contain very small amounts of cyanide compounds. You’re more likely to ingest these trace amounts of cyanide when such foods are consumed raw, as heat breaks down the compounds. Even when flaxseed is eaten raw, the body has a natural capacity to break down a certain amount of these cyanide compounds. A 1994 study found that, in healthy individuals, daily consumption of as much as 60 grams of raw flaxseed—more than eight tablespoons—was safe” from: http://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/7_8/ask-experts/ask-tufts-experts_1157-1.html
      .
      Since Dr. Greger recommends only 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed in his Daily Dozen recommendations, it seems to me that it is all good – a large safety margin *and* a huge amount of potential benefit from the flax.
      .
      For the gritty details, check out: ​https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4754328/
      .
      FYI: I heard that Dr. Greger will be doing a video on this topic at some point, so stay tuned!

    1. I just wanted to add that this exact research shows that a higher proportion of the CoQ10 levels has been shown to be transformed from ubiquinone to the reduced form of CoQ10 (ubiquinol) rather than there actually being higher levels altogether. Eating greens and being exposed to more sunlight does not increase the overall amount of CoQ10. The body naturally cycles between ubiquinone and ubiquinol depending on whether the CoQ10 works as an antioxidant by donating electrons or as one of the last steps in the ATP/energy production as ubiquinone. Therefore, when ubiquinol oxidizes, it becomes ubiquinone. The research just shows that with the presence of more chlorophyll in your bloodstream, the CoQ10 form present predominantly seems to be the antioxidant form rather than ubiquinone.

  16. The Swedish National Food Agency (which provides dietary recommendations to the populace) recently advised against eating flax seed, particularly if it is fresh and ground up–exactly what you recommend, I believe, in your smoothie video. Apparently, there is a risk for hydrogen cyanide poisoning, something of which I’d never heard. I haven’t seen you mention this, so I hope you can take it up and provide some sound advice. Thanks!

    1. Thomas Corcoran: Your question has come up a lot lately. I think the following answer from Tuffs is helpful in evaluating this question:
      .
      “Lynne M. Ausman, DSc, RD, director of the Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition Program at Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, says you have nothing to worry about. Many foods, including not only flax but cashews, almonds, some beans and other plant products, naturally contain very small amounts of cyanide compounds. You’re more likely to ingest these trace amounts of cyanide when such foods are consumed raw, as heat breaks down the compounds. Even when flaxseed is eaten raw, the body has a natural capacity to break down a certain amount of these cyanide compounds. A 1994 study found that, in healthy individuals, daily consumption of as much as 60 grams of raw flaxseed—more than eight tablespoons—was safe” from: http://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/7_8/ask-experts/ask-tufts-experts_1157-1.html
      .
      Since Dr. Greger recommends only 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed in his Daily Dozen recommendations, it seems to me that it is all good – a large safety margin *and* a huge amount of potential benefit from the flax.
      .
      For the gritty details, check out: ​https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4754328/
      .
      FYI: I heard that Dr. Greger will be doing a video on this topic at some point, so stay tuned!

  17. Hi Susan. Comparatively speaking, yes, CoQ10 is more expensive than flax seeds. However, when you consider the fact that CoQ10 has proven in large clinical trials to protect your heart or have a profoundly reversing effect on heart disease in addition to its blood pressure lowering effect – the price is really small compared to the amount of money people otherwise spend on heart disease prevention and treatment. You can get the pharmaceutical-grade ubiquinone used in these large clinical trials in the price range of $.30 to $.50/softgel. I guess it just depends whether you are only looking for blood pressure- and hair effect or you are looking at the larger picture. But shiny hair is certainly a nice “side effect” from flax seeds that I wasn’t aware of ;)

  18. Hello!
    I have the habit of adding a tablespoon mixed flax seeds to my breakfast every morning. I at your site learned a lot about their benefits! But last weeks the Swedish National Food Administration have gone out in media and warned about eating mixed flax seeds since they linamarin and that can in the body be transformed to hydrogen cyanide. Many stores in Sweden are now taking the product out and don´t sell it anymore. Have you any comments on that? Is it that dangerous with linamarin and hydrogen cyanide? Or are the benefits greater? I guess they must have some research behind a statement like this, because the totally warn people of eating it at all. Happy for a answer!

    1. Jeffer Sandstrom: Your question has come up a lot lately. I think the following answer from Tuffs is helpful in evaluating this question:
      .
      “Lynne M. Ausman, DSc, RD, director of the Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition Program at Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, says you have nothing to worry about. Many foods, including not only flax but cashews, almonds, some beans and other plant products, naturally contain very small amounts of cyanide compounds. You’re more likely to ingest these trace amounts of cyanide when such foods are consumed raw, as heat breaks down the compounds. Even when flaxseed is eaten raw, the body has a natural capacity to break down a certain amount of these cyanide compounds. A 1994 study found that, in healthy individuals, daily consumption of as much as 60 grams of raw flaxseed—more than eight tablespoons—was safe” from: http://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/7_8/ask-experts/ask-tufts-experts_1157-1.html
      .
      Since Dr. Greger recommends only 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed in his Daily Dozen recommendations, it seems to me that it is all good – a large safety margin *and* a huge amount of potential benefit from the flax.
      .
      For the gritty details, check out: ​https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4754328/
      .
      FYI: I heard that Dr. Greger will be doing a video on this topic at some point, so stay tuned!

    2. Hi, Jeffer! I am Christine, a NF Volunteer Moderator. I understand your concern, and I have heard of the warnings about flax seeds. A quick search on PubMed regarding flax and adverse effects turned up some allergic reactions, and a study on cancer incidence in Lithuanian flax spinners and weavers (lower overall cancer incidence than general population), but little else. Perhaps you could contact the Swedish National Food Administration to inquire about the scientific basis for the warnings, and report back to us here? I wonder if there is some local are contamination issue? I am sorry I do not have a better answer to offer you. I will continue to research this myself. Thanks for bringing it to our attention!

    1. Hi, tom. I am Christine, a NF volunteer moderator. There are a couple of reasons for choosing flax seeds over flax seed oil. The first, is that there are likely a number of constituents of flax seeds that work with the oil synergistically to provide benefits, such as dietary fiber. The second is that the whole seed has antioxidants in it that keep the oils from becoming rancid. When removed from the seed, flax oil will oxidize and become rancid very quickly. I hope that helps!

  19. The swedish food administration advice that you should not eat milled flax seeds at all. According to them the cyanide that comes from the seed may make you sick. They say that they don’t know what the limit is so it’s the best to avoid it completely. This makes me wonder if it’s safe to start giving this to me and my family.

    1. A FEW TABLESPOONS OF FLAXSEED

      Hello, everybody.

      I am new on this site. Wonder whether I can leave a question.
      “Ground flaxseeds, a few tablespoons a day, induced one of the most potent antihypertensive effects…”, it says in one of the above abstracts on this kind of food and hypertension treatment.
      But: How much is a few tablespoons?

      Thank you very much for your answers.
      Happy New Year.

      Rainer

    1. Hi, Mike!
      Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen Checklist includes one tablespoon of ground flax seeds per day, in addition to a serving of nuts or other seeds. So one tablespoon is a good amount, however you could certainly have more than that. I couldn’t find any information on an established upper limit for flax.

  20. Thank You, I have been using about 3 table spoons per day for the last 3 months. I found one article that recommended a max of 5 table spoons per day.

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