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Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Could flaxseed cause low blood pressure?

Could flaxseed cause low blood pressure?

Have you ever had flaxseed chutney or ate a spoonful of the seeds to feel dizzy and nauseous later on? Welcome to the club. Many people feel uncomfortably lightheaded hours after consuming flaxseed. And something tells us the side effects may not be just an unfortunate coincidence. Flaxseed was hailed for its many awesome health benefits, from promoting cardiovascular benefits to preventing cancer. But the infallible flaxseed may not be so great after all. Here are some of its side effects that we bet you didn’t know about.

A few years ago, after losing a lot of hair, someone suggested that I try eating a spoonful of flaxseeds with my breakfast. It is common knowledge that flaxseed is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids and lignans, both of which are great for the hair. Unfortunately, I could never find out whether it actually did any good to my hair because I had to quit midway. Just hours after taking a spoonful of flaxseeds, I started feeling dizzy, nauseous and lightheaded, and the feeling lasted all day. Also read: The health benefits of flaxseeds.

Although I gave flaxseed the benefit of the doubt on the first day (you know, because flaxseed can do no wrong), I pretty much knew that it WAS the culprit because I had the same symptoms the next day after eating a spoonful of the seeds. A quick check on Google revealed that a lot of people ended up having same symptoms as mine after eating flaxseed.

Some websites even mentioned that since flaxseed had a hypotensive effect (lowering blood pressure), the dizziness and nausea could be because of a sudden drop in blood pressure. That added up because I have ALWAYS had low blood pressure and I suspected that all the flaxseed I was eating was worsening it.

Science, unfortunately, didn’t yield any satisfactory answers. A 2013 study published in the PLoS in 2007 said that elderly individuals with underlying health problems might be at risk of low blood glucose1 and low blood pressure2 while taking flaxseed supplements. However, another one published in Journal of Pharmaceutical Biology said that supplements of flaxseed did not cause any episodes of low blood pressure or low blood sugar in healthy individuals between the age group of 49-87.3

Dietician Geeta Shenoy explains what could have probably gone wrong: “Flaxseed is a highly fibrous food, and too much fibre doesn’t agree with a lot of people. If the same people had flaxseed oil instead of seeds, they wouldn’t show any adverse reactions.” Nausea could be because of the fibre overload on the digestive system, which could cause a host of side effects.

“Also, most people don’t realise that a fibre-rich food like flaxseed should be taken with a lot of water. Not having enough water could cause side effects like nausea in people who cannot tolerate high fibre foods,” says Geeta.

1.Pan A, Sun J, Chen Y, Ye X, Li H, Yu Z, Wang Y, Gu W, Zhang X, Chen X,Demark-Wahnefried W, Liu Y, Lin X. Effects of a flaxseed-derived lignan supplement in type 2 diabetic patients: a randomized, double-blind, cross-over
2.Cornish SM, Chilibeck PD, Paus-Jennsen L, Biem HJ, Khozani T, Senanayake V, Vatanparast H, Little JP, Whiting SJ, Pahwa P. A randomized controlled trial of the effects of flaxseed lignan complex on metabolic syndrome composite score and bone mineral in older adults.
3.Billinsky J, Glew RA, Cornish SM, Whiting SJ, Thorpe LU, Alcorn J, Paus-Jenssen L, Hadjistavropoulos T, Chilibeck PD. No evidence of hypoglycemia or hypotension in older adults during 6 months of flax lignan supplementation in a
randomized controlled trial: a safety evaluation.

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