A new study led by King’s College London suggests a diet that combines unsaturated fats with nitrite-rich vegetables, like olive oil and lettuce can protect you from hypertension.
The findings, published in the journal PNAS may help to explain why previous studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet can reduce blood pressure.
The Mediterranean diet typically includes unsaturated fats found in olive oil, avocados, nuts, as well as vegetables like celery, carrots and spinach that are rich in nitrites and nitrates.
When these 2 food groups are combined, the reaction of unsaturated fatty acids with nitrogen compounds in the vegetables results in the formation of nitro fatty acids.
The study, supported by the British Heart Foundation used mice to look at the process by which nitro fatty acids lower blood pressure, looking at whether they inhibited an enzyme known as soluble Epoxide Hydrolase which regulates blood pressure.
The study found that the protective effect of the Mediterranean diet, combining unsaturated fats and vegetables plentiful in nitrite and nitrate, comes at least in part from the nitro fatty acids created which inhibit soluble Epoxide Hydrolase to lower blood pressure.
“The findings of our study help to explain why previous research has shown that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin oil or nuts can reduce the incidence of cardiovascular problems like stroke, heart failure and heart attacks,” said Professor Phillip Eaton, Professor of Cardiovascular Biochemistry at King’s College London. Science Daily 5/19/14