According to findings published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a diet rich in olive oil, and fruit and vegetables was associated with a significant reduction in the incidence of hypertension.
The study is said to be the first to relate consumption of fruits and vegetables to hypertension in a Mediterranean setting.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in cereals, fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and olive oil. Although is the traditional diet of the Mediterranean region, it has garnered interest all over the world in recent times as a scientific spotlight has been trained on the health benefits it can confer.
For instance, recent research has indicated that the diet may have benefits for arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, hearth health and blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, lung disease, and allergies.
Despite its global reputation, and the food industry adopting some of its principals to assist in marketing of healthy foods, data shows that the Mediterranean diet may be falling out of practice in its home territory.
Led by Dr Jorge Nunez-Cordoba from the University of Navarra, the scientists analysed data from 8,594 men and women with an average age of 41.1 in Spain (the SUN cohort).
According to the new data, fruit and vegetables were associated with a reduced risk of hypertension only in people with a low olive oil consumption of less than 15 grams per day.
High blood pressure (hypertension),defined as having a systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP) greater than 140 and 90 mmHg, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) - a disease that causes almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe, and reported to cost the EU economy an estimated €169bn ($202bn) per year.
Source: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition Volume 63, Pages 605-612; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2008.22"Role of vegetables and fruits in Mediterranean diets to prevent hypertension" Authors: J.M. Nunez-Cordoba, A. Alonso, J.J. Beunza, S. Palma, E. Gomez-Gracia, M.A. Martinez-Gonzalez