Olive oil when combined with fresh veggies can help manage blood pressure, a new study from the UK says.
The study, reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), mainly concentrated on the factors that make the Mediterranean diet healthy. Mediterranean diet is a nutritional concept that promotes healthy eating by encouraging consumption of more fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, healthy fats, supplemented with olive oil. The diet also encourages moderate consumption of wine.
The unsaturated fats found in olive oil and nitrite in the vegetables, when mixed together, produce a new compound known as nitro fatty acids, which further block the activity of a blood pressure regulating enzyme called soluble Epoxide Hydrolase, explained researchers, while uncovering the mechanism.
For the study, a team of researchers from the King's College in London, fed nitro fatty acids to two sets of mice. Rodents in the first group were genetically engineered to suffer from high blood pressure and were resistant to the inhibitory process. The second group included normal mice. Though blood pressure in the first group of animals continued to remain high, even after following the diet for five days, the second group achieved a considerable decline in blood pressure.
Other sources of unsaturated fats like nuts and avocados, when combined with vegetables can provide similar health effects, researchers said.
"The findings of our study help to explain why previous research has shown that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts can reduce the incidence of cardiovascular problems like stroke, heart failure and heart attacks." Professor Philip Eaton, said in a news release.
They also expected that their findings will help develop more effective treatment for hypertension. "With the fats in the Med diet, if taken together with nitrates or nitrites, there's a chemical reaction and these combine to form nitro fatty acids," Professor Eaton, told BBC. "It's nature's protective mechanism. If we can tap into this we could make new drugs for treating high blood pressure and preventing heart disease."