Looking for more foods to add to your healthy high blood pressure diet?
According to a new study led by King's College London, a diet that combines unsaturated fats such as those seen in olive oil, nuts and avocados along with nitrite and nitrate-rich vegetables like lettuce, spinach, celery and carrots, can protect against high blood pressure (BP).
These findings may help to explain why the so-called ‘Mediterranean diet’ has previously been shown to lower BP, along with reducing other risk factors for heart disease.
The Mediterranean diet uses olive oil for cooking and is typically rich in fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, whole grain bread and unrefined cereals. Dairy products, eggs, fish and poultry are consumed only in low to moderate amounts, with little or no red meat and moderate consumption of wine.
Combined with a healthy lifestyle such as increased physical activity, moderate alcohol consumption and not smoking, this diet has previously been shown to lower death rates caused by heart disease.
Key to this protective effect appears to be that when unsaturated fats are combined with nitrite and nitrate-rich foods, compounds called nitro fatty acids are formed.
Researchers in this study investigated whether nitro fatty acids lower BP in mice. Specifically, they examined whether nitro fatty acids can inhibit an enzyme known as soluble Epoxide Hydrolase, which is known to regulate BP.
As the study results show, consumption of nitro fatty acids lowered BP in normal mice. On the other hand, mice that were genetically engineered to be resistant to inhibition of soluble Epoxide Hydrolase still had high BP despite being fed the same diet.
This study concludes that the protective effect of the Mediterranean diet has to do at least in part from the generation of nitro fatty acids, which inhibit soluble Epoxide Hydrolase to lower BP.
These findings may help to explain why the Mediterranean diet - supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and nuts - has been shown to reduce the risk and incidence of cardiovascular events like stroke, heart failure and heart attacks.
Given the many health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, why not adopt it today?