Sesame oil helps reduce dose of blood pressure-lowering medicine

Cooking with sesame oil in place of other edible oils appears to help reduce high blood pressure and lower the amount of medication needed to control hypertension, researchers reported today at the XVth Scientific Meeting of the Inter-American Society of Hypertension. The meeting is co-sponsored by the American Heart Association’s Council for High Blood Pressure Research.

Using sesame oil as the sole cooking oil for 60 days along with drug treatment lowered patients’ blood pressure levels from 166 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) systolic pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) to 134 mm Hg, and from 101 mm Hg diastolic (the lower number) to 84.6 mm Hg.

The researchers also report that the dose of nifedipine, a calcium channel blocker, was reduced from 22.7 mg per day to 7.45 mg per day by the end of the study.

“The affect of the oil on blood pressure may be due to polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and the compound sesamin – a lignan present in sesame oil. Both compounds have been shown to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive rats. Sesame lignans also inhibit the synthesis and absorption of cholesterol in these rats,” says primary author Devarajan Sankar, D.O., Ph.D., a research scholar at Annamalai University, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, India.

Sesame oil contains 43 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids and 40 milligrams (mg) of vitamin E per 100 grams, according to the researcher. The research team has previously reported that sesame oil helps reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients taking diuretics or beta blockers, and that sesame oil helped people with diabetes regardless of high blood pressure. Their current study tested the effect of sesame oil on people with hypertension who were already taking the calcium channel blocker drug nifedipine. Calcium channel blockers lower blood pressure by relaxing the arterial membranes.

Researchers identified 328 patients (195 men, 133 women, average age 58) who were taking 10-30 mg of nifedipine a day. They had moderate to severe long-term hypertension but no history of heart disease or stroke. Their average blood pressure was 166/101 mm Hg, which is considered stage 2 hypertension. Participants consumed an average of 35 grams of oil per day for 60 days. Researchers measured blood pressure at baseline, every 15 days and on day 60.

“Overall, we’ve added to the growing body of knowledge that suggests regular consumption of sesame oil as the sole edible oil is beneficial in many ways, including blood pressure reduction,” Sankar says. However, patients should always seek advice from their physician if they have questions about their high blood pressure treatment.

Co-authors are K.V. Pugalendi, Ph.D.; G. Sambandam, M.B.B.S.; and M. Ramakrishna Rao, M.D. The meeting is also sponsored by the Inter-American Society for Hypertension and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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