High blood pressure is a serious condition that puts you at a greater risk of cardiovascular disease. By choosing to eat certain foods, can have a positive impact on your heart, as well as lower your blood pressure.
In this blog, I will be focusing on one simple diet that you can explore if you suffer with high blood pressure. This diet can improve your general health and reduce your risk of heart disease.
It is never too later to change
Adopting simple lifestyle changes, can have a huge impact on the health of your heart and arteries. To demonstrate the point, researchers from University College [UCL], followed the health and well being of 5,362 people all born in the same week in March 1946, in the UK. In 2010 at the age of 64, the UK researchers chose 1,273 of them and compared their weight and body fat to their risk profile for heart disease and atherosclerosis. As expected, those who were overweight or obese already had signs of atherosclerosis and high blood pressure, as well as diabetes.
Researchers found that those people who modified their diet and lifestyle and dropped into a lower body mass index [BMI] category – from overweight to normal weight for example – saw their risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease fall as well.
The Mediterranean diet
It is sometimes difficult to try to determine which factors are hazardous to health and which are beneficial. In the 1980s, scientists were surprised to learn that the rates of heart disease and cancer in parts of Greece, where the traditional dietary patterns were maintained, were low in contrast to the rates in Australia, Europe and North America.
Many of the elements of what is now regarded as a healthy diet – simply prepared meat and fish, large quantities of fruits, vegetables, olive oil and nuts – form part of the Mediterranean diet. The Lyon Diet Heart Study, which was a prevention trial comparing the Mediterranean diet with the ‘prudent diet’ usually prescribed for cardiac patients. After more than two years, coronary heart disease had decreased by 70 percent among those eating the Mediterranean diet [https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/01.CIR.103.13.1823].
Characteristics of the Mediterranean Diet
- High levels of fruit and vegetables, breads and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds.
- Olive oil.
- Moderate amounts of dairy products.
- Fish and poultry, but very little red meat.
- Eggs are allowed, but no more than four per week and no more than one a day.
- Wine is consumed in moderate amounts – two glasses per day for men, one glass for women.
What is the secret behind the Mediterranean Diet?
High intake of linolenic and oleic acids
Numerous studies have shown that high olive oil intake reduces blood pressure and improves heart health. These positive effects are due to high levels of linolenic and oleic acid present.
Olive oil being a staple of the Mediterranean Diet
Research has shown that olive oil increases the plasma levels of high density lipoprotein [HDL] and decreases low-density lipoprotein [LDL] cholesterol. As an antioxidant, olive oil protects against lipid peroxidation, a risk factor in atherosclerosis and heart disease [https://jules4heart.com/eliminate-oxidised-cholesterol-and-improve-your-health/].
Moderate use of red wine
A rich source of antioxidants, red wine protects cholesterol against oxidation. Red wine components bind to LDL and HDL and are able to protect these lipoproteins against perioxidation.
Interplay between olive oil and leafy vegetables
When the unsaturated fats in olive oil come into contact with the nitrates in vegetables and salad greens, they form nitro fatty acids, which lower blood pressure [ref].
High levels of Vitamin C and E
The Mediterrranean Diet consists of high levels of vitamin C and E, due to being found in many fruits and vegetables. Strong oxidative qualities of these vitamins means it strengthens the body’s natural defenses and has a positive effect the heart.
The presence of Potassium
A high intake of fruit and vegetables has the ability to lower blood pressure, due to potassium in these foods and the impact this has on your heart.
Limited consumption of red meat
Research has found that high levels of a gut-generated chemical called Trimethylamine N-Oxide [TMAO] are in people who eat a diet rich in red meat. Scientists have found that there were triple levels of TMAO in people who have a high consumption of red meat, compared with those who eat a diet rich in either white meat or mostly plant-based proteins.
TMAO is a dietary by-product that is formed by gut bacteria during digestion. It is derived in part, from nutrients that are abundant in red meat. Along with high saturated fat levels, a growing body of research has identified TMAO as a major risk factor that contributes to heart disease [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trimethylamine_N-oxide].
UK researchers have studied the mortality levels among 11,000 health-conscious individuals. These included vegetarians and those people who frequently ate wholemeal bread, bran cereals, nuts, dried fruit and raw salads. These subjects were tracked for 17 years and it was found that they were half as likely to suffer heart disease or stroke, as the rest of the population.
The research that was conducted, also confirms that among these participants, those people who ate fruit daily had a 24 percent reduction in fatal heart disease, 32 percent reduction in death and stroke and an overall 21 percent lower date rate.
The body of research that has been highlighted, provides credibility if you want to improve the health of your heart, by adopting a Mediterranean Diet.
Paprika and Garlic Salmon with Warm Green Leaf, Olive & Sweet Vegetable Salad
Here is a main meal recipe that my family and I absolutely enjoy. The recipe is very easy to follow and all the ingredients are easily sourced from your local store. I am growing a range of fresh vegetables amd herbs in my allotment, so much of the ingredients will be readily available and perfectly fresh for me when it is in season.
Made in just 35 minutes from start to finish! This salmon dish is delicious and will have you coming back for more.
BAKED SALMON INGREDIENTS:
2 Salmon fillets scales removed or skins removed
5 cloves of fresh garlic crushed
1 level tablespoon of paprika powder
1 teaspoon of Italian herb mix – fresh or dried
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of black pepper
Crush the cloves of garlic and combine with all other ingredients to make the marinade.
Coat the salmon fillets in the marinade and wrap in foil, ensuring the fillets are completely sealed in foil. Leave to stand for at least 30 minutes prior to baking.
Place in a hot oven at 180 degrees centigrade and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from the hot oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes prior to serving.
WARM GREEN LEAF, OLIVE & SWEET VEGETABLE SALAD INGREDIENTS:
200g sweetcorn, tinned or frozen
150g baby Spinach
Handful of basil leafs including stems – roughly chopped (approximately 4 stems)
300g green olives – drained and rinsed
Half of a sweet red pepper diced
1 spring onion finely chopped
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of black pepper
Heat the sweetcorn in a pan with water, remove from the heat when brought to the boil.
Add the spinach and basil leafs to the hot sweetcorn gently mix together then place lid on the pot. The heat will allow the tender leafs to gently warm and wilt. Drain after 2 minutes
Remove pan lid and add olives, chopped pepper and spring onion and gently toss together.
Mix olive oil, lemon juice with salt and pepper in a separate bowl.
Place a portion of the salad on a bed of freshly cooked pasta. Drizzle with the lemon and olive oil dressing.
Place a warm salmon fillet at the center of the salad.
Enjoy your Paprika and Garlic Salmon with Warm Green Leaf, Olive & Sweet Vegetables Salad.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog and that it’s given you food for thought!
Paprika and garliac salmon with vegetable salad is a delicious recipe. Give it a try and see what you think. I would appreciate your comments. If you have other meals that fit the Mediterranean Diet, I would love to hear about them.