Sesame and rice bran oils lower blood pressure and normalize cholesterol levels

People who cook with a combination of sesame oil and rice bran oil experience significant reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This is according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s 2012 High Blood Pressure Research Session.

Researchers have found that cooking with a combination of these oils works almost as well as regular prescription high blood pressure medications, and using the combination of oils along with the medications has been even more impressive.

“Rice bran oil, like sesame oil, is low in saturated fat and can normalize a patient’s cholesterol levels!” said Devarajan Shankar, MD, postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Cardiovascular Diseases in Fukuoka, Japan. “In addition, they may reduce the risk of heart disease in other ways, including as a substitute for less healthy vegetable oils and fats in the diet.”

During a 60-day study in New Delhi, India, 300 people with elevated and high blood pressure were divided into three groups. One group was treated with a common drug used to lower blood pressure called nifedipine. The second group was given a mixture of oils and told to take about an ounce of the mixture each day. The last group received a calcium channel blocker (nifedipine) and a mixture of oils.

All three groups, with approximately equal numbers of males and females in each, whose mean age was 57 years, noted a decrease in systolic blood pressure.

Systolic blood pressure dropped an average of 14 points in those who used the oil blend alone, by 16 points in those who took medication. Those who used both saw a 36 point drop.

Diastolic blood pressure also dropped significantly, by 11 points for those who ate the oil, 12 for those who took the medicine, and 24 for those who used both. In terms of cholesterol, those who took the oils saw a 26 percent drop in “bad” cholesterol and a 9,5 percent increase in “good” cholesterol, while no change in cholesterol was seen in patients who only used a calcium channel blocker. . Those who took the calcium channel blocker and oils experienced a 27 percent reduction in “bad” cholesterol and a 10,9 percent increase in “good” cholesterol.

Beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants such as sesamin, sesamol, sesamolin and oryzanol found in the oil blend may have contributed to these results, Shankar said. These antioxidants, mono- and polyunsaturated fats found in plants, have been shown to lower blood pressure and total cholesterol.

More research is needed to determine if the oil blend is as effective as it seems. The blend was made specifically for this study, and there are no plans to commercialize it, Shankar said. Everyone can mix these oils for themselves.

People with high blood pressure should not stop taking their medications and should check with their doctors before trying any product that could cause their blood pressure to change to make sure they are under proper control.  

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