New Research on Benefits of Mediterranean Diet for Blood Pressure

May 22, 2014


It has been widely reported that following a Mediterranean diet is beneficial for heart health. Now researchers are looking into how it helps lower blood pressure. The British study was recently reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Scienceswhere authors say it is the combination of unsaturated fats and nutrient-rich vegetables. This diet allows for a group of fatty acids to block a particular enzyme, resulting in lower blood pressure.

The Mediterranean diet, as it is known today, largely consists of foods rich in unsaturated fats including olive oil, fish, nuts, and avocados, along with dark, leafy greens which are high in nitrates and nitrites. Eating these foods together make what is known as nitro fatty acids. Research in this study found that having these nitro fatty acids in the body inhibits the enzyme soluble epoxide hydrolase. By doing so, blood pressure levels are naturally reduced, which has been proven in previous studies.

Blood Pressure Awareness Month

This study was published during Blood Pressure Awareness Month – a time health care provider urge people to become more aware of their own blood pressure and the potential risk factors for those who have high blood pressure.

In the United States, 1 in 3 adults have high blood pressure. That equates to 67 million people. Your risk for developing high blood pressure increases with age, as well as other factors including body weight, if you smoke, inactive lifestyle, high alcohol intake, stress, and a high sodium diet. You can reduce your risk through lifestyle modifications. Other risk factors like gender and family history cannot be modified.

This video from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention explain the concept of high blood pressure. If not controlled, high blood pressure can lead to a heart attack, heart disease and stroke. Talk to your health care provider about your blood pressure if it is high and what you need to do to properly manage it. 

For more information on Know Your Numbers, click here.