A special blend of sesame and rice bran oils could be a potential non-drug option for treating high blood pressure and cholesterol, according to new research.
The study included 300 people in New Delhi, India, with hypertension. A third of the participants used a common drug called nifedipine; another third used an ounce of a specially made blend of sesame and rice bran oils to cook with every day; and the final third took the drug and cooked with the oil blend. All three groups used their assigned treatments for 60 days.
The researchers found that all three groups of people -- including those not taking the drug -- had a decrease in their blood pressure levels.
Specifically, the participants who took the drug and cooked with the oil had greater gains in their blood pressure levels. The systolic blood pressure decreased by 16 points, on average, among people who just took the drug, while it decreased 14 points, on average, for people who just cooked with the oil. Meanwhile, it dropped 36 points for people who took the drug and cooked with the oil.
Meanwhile, diastolic blood pressure decreased by 12 points, on average, among people who just took the drug, and 11 points, on average, among those who just cooked with the oil. It dropped 24 points for people who used both the drug and the oil.
The oil blend also seemed to make a difference on cholesterol levels. Researchers found that those who cooked with the oil blend had 26 percent lower "bad" cholesterol levels and 9.5 percent higher "good" cholesterol levels by the end of the study period. Meanwhile, those who cooked with the oil blend and took the blood pressure-lowering drug had 27 percent lower "bad" cholesterol levels and 10.9 percent higher "good" cholesterol levels.
But people who didn't cook with the oils didn't experience any cholesterol benefit.
"Rice bran oil, like sesame oil, is low in saturated fat and appears to improve a patient's cholesterol profile," study researcher Dr. Devarajan Sankar, M.D, Ph.D., a research scientist at Fukuoka University Chikushi Hospital in Japan, said in a statement. "Additionally, it may reduce heart disease risk in other ways, including being a substitute for less healthy oils and fats in the diet."
However, researchers noted that this oil blend was uniquely tailor-made for the study and people shouldn't think that trying to make their own rice bran oil and sesame oil blends will produce the same effect. But still, the findings could lead to a future nondrug option using these oils for high blood pressure and cholesterol, they said.
The research was presented at the American Heart Association's High Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Sessions, and has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal; therefore, the findings should be considered preliminary. The oils were donated by Adani Wilmar Limited in India, but researchers didn't receive any outside funding for the study.
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