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Certain Plant Oils May Reduce Blood Pressure

A recent international study published in the September 2008 issue of the journal Hypertension found that higher levels of linoleic acid were associated with lower blood pressure.

Linoleic acid is an omega-6 essential fatty acid that your body needs but cannot produce. It can be found in dietary sources like plant oils. Sunflower, poppy seed and walnut oil are all rich sources of linoleic acid.

For the recent study, researchers recruited 4,680 men and woman between the ages of 40 and 59. The participants included people from China, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Researchers analyzed participants by measuring blood pressure, taking urine samples, and recording dietary intake. After reviewing the data, they found that higher levels of linoleic acid were associated with lower blood pressure in all of the study participants.

An analysis of a subgroup of 2,238 people who were not on special diets, consuming nutritional supplements, or diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or diabetes, found an even stronger correlation between low blood pressure and linoleic acid consumption.

Based on these findings, researchers note that consuming more linoleic acid from vegetable sources and less saturated fat from meat sources may help keep blood pressure low and provide protection against heart problems.

Linoleic acid - and omega-6 fatty acids in general - don't get the publicity that omega-3 fatty acids do for their health benefits. But several new studies have shown that omega-6s also play a role in cardiovascular health.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends a ratio of 1:1 omega-3s to omega-6s, but many American's get several times more omega-6s than omega-3s in their diets. To reap the benefits of both you should try to maintain a diet that includes an equal ration of omega-6s (primarily from plant sources) and omega-3s (found in fish oil).
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