Flaxseed for High Blood Pressure

crushing flaxseeds
Try adding ground or crushed flaxseeds to a meal. Ian O'Leary/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

For the one in three American adults with high blood pressure, a natural remedy known as flaxseed may improve health. Sourced from the Linum usitatissimum plant, flaxseed contains a number of substances that may help with blood pressure control (such as alpha-linolenic acid, fiber, and lignans).

Flaxseed is available in a number of forms, including whole seeds and flaxseed oil. Sometimes taken in supplement form, flaxseed oil typically contains alpha-linolenic acid (and sometimes lignans).

Since whole flaxseed can be tough to digest, it's helpful to grind the seeds into a powder prior to eating them.

Why Is Flaxseed Sometimes Used for Blood Pressure Control?

A type of omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid is thought to play a key role in flaxseed's possible effects on blood pressure. Indeed, some research has linked alpha-linolenic acid intake with a reduced risk of high blood pressure. This research includes a study published in the journal Hypertension in 2005, which analyzed the diets of 4,594 participants and found that alpha-linolenic acid intake was associated with lower prevalence of high blood pressure.

The fiber in flaxseed may also help bring blood pressure down. There's some evidence that fiber intake may help fight high blood pressure in part by protecting against endothelial dysfunction (i.e., abnormalities in the layer of cells lining the blood vessels).

In addition, the lignans in flaxseed may help lower blood pressure.

A type of phytoestrogen, lignans are thought to regulate blood pressure in part by producing antioxidant effects.

Research on Flaxseed and Blood Pressure

Supplementing your diet with flaxseed may lead to a significant decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, according to a report published in Clinical Nutrition in 2015.

For this report, researchers reviewed 15 previously published clinical trials (with a total of 1,302 participants) which tested the effects of flaxseed supplementation on blood pressure. Their analysis determined that consuming flaxseed for more than 12 weeks had a greater effect on blood pressure, compared to using flaxseed products for fewer than 12 weeks.

The report's authors also found that while use of flaxseed powder caused a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure, use of flaxseed oil did not significantly lower systolic blood pressure. However, both flaxseed powder and flaxseed oil appeared to significantly reduce diastolic blood pressure.

(The top number on a blood pressure reading, systolic blood pressure is a measure of the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The bottom number on the reading, diastolic blood pressure is a measure of the pressure in your arteries between heartbeats.)


Flaxseed is likely safe for most adults, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH caution that flaxseed may trigger the following side effects:

  • abdominal pain
  • bloating
  • constipation
  • diarrhea 
  • nausea

The NIH also warn that consuming flaxseed may cause blood pressure to become too low in people who are taking blood pressure-lowering medication.

Therefore, it's crucial for individuals using such medications to consult their physician prior to consuming flaxseed.

Using Flaxseed for Blood Pressure Control?

More research is needed before flaxseed can be recommended for blood pressure management. Still, it's possible that using flaxseed products may enhance your health. In addition to potentially lowering blood pressure, flaxseed may help cut cholesterol and keep blood sugar in check (a factor that may help protect against diabetes).

To boost your dietary intake of flaxseed, try adding ground flaxseed to such foods as yogurt, soups, salads, and oatmeal.

You can also add flaxseed oil to salads, vegetable dishes, and other dishes.

While supplementing your diet with flaxseed products may be of some benefit in blood pressure control, flaxseed should not be used as a substitute for standard care of high blood pressure.


Caligiuri SP1, Edel AL, Aliani M, Pierce GN. "Flaxseed for hypertension: implications for blood pressure regulation." Curr Hypertens Rep. 2014 Dec;16(12):499.

Djoussé L1, Arnett DK, Pankow JS, Hopkins PN, Province MA, Ellison RC. "Dietary linolenic acid is associated with a lower prevalence of hypertension in the NHLBI Family Heart Study." Hypertension. 2005 Mar;45(3):368-73.

Khalesi S1, Irwin C2, Schubert M2. "Flaxseed consumption may reduce blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials." J Nutr. 2015 Apr;145(4):758-65.

Martinette T. Streppel, MSc; Lidia R. Arends, MSc; Pieter vant Veer, PhD; Diederick E. Grobbee, MD; Johanna M. Geleijnse, PhD. "Dietary Fiber and Blood Pressure: Meta-analysis of Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trials." Arch Intern Med. 2005;165(2):150-156.

National Institutes of Health. "Flaxseed: MedlinePlus Supplements." February 2015.

Ursoniu S1, Sahebkar A2, Andrica F3, Serban C4, Banach M5; Lipid and Blood Pressure Meta-analysis Collaboration (LBPMC) Group. "Effects of flaxseed supplements on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled clinical trial." Clin Nutr. 2015 May 29.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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