High Blood Pressure Treatment, Mediterranean Style

It is of utmost importance to realize that high blood pressure can go unrecognized and undiagnosed for years, causing no high blood pressure symptoms but causing progressive damage to the heart, blood vessels and other organs. By the time high blood pressure, or hypertension, is diagnosed, the damage done may be irreparable – leading to heart attack, heart disease, or stroke.
The cardio-protective properties many of the foods consumed in countries such as Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain and France gave rise to the term ‘The Mediterranean Diet’. The beneficial effects of this way of eating came to light through studies in the mid 1940’s that showed particularly low incidence of heart disease in the Mediterranean Basin. However, the benefits of the Mediterranean diet in high blood pressure treatment have only been re-discovered since the 1990’s.
A closer look revealed that the type of foods eaten were far healthier for the heart than the high sodium diet of the US. The vegetables were not overcooked and there was a choice of raw vegetables and fruits, meaning more vitamins and minerals beneficial to high blood pressure treatment were retained. A large amount of the protein came from vegetable sources, thus reducing the amount of saturated fat which often accompanies animal protein. Total amounts of saturated fats and trans fat which are known to raise blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels were low. These bad fats were replaced by monounsaturated fats, thought to be beneficial in the treatment of heart disease and hypertension.
So what’s in the Mediterranean diet that can help in the treatment of high blood pressure?
1.Anti-oxidants – such as vitamins A, C and E prevent the accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries. This prevents the narrowing of the blood vessels and effectively help in high blood pressure treatment
2.Potassium – helps in the treatment of high blood pressure by counteracting the bad effects of sodium in the blood stream
3.Folic acid – which helps to reduce the formation of homocysteine which can contribute to heart disease.
4.Omega 3 – found in oily fish common in the Mediterranean diet, have special heart protective properties. Such properties include reducing heart arrhythmias, reducing the stickiness of the blood and reducing injury to artery walls. All of this contributes to the treatment of high blood pressure.
As with any other dietary change, choosing a Mediterranean way of eating will produce maximum effect in reducing heart disease only when coupled with other positive lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and increasing exercise.
However increasing your intake of roasted Italian vegetables, barbecued Spanish sardines plus the odd glass of French wine certainly sounds like a pleasurable way to reduce heart disease!