(NaturalNews) A staggering number of people from all walks of life have little comprehension of how very small increases in resting blood pressure over the course of years and decades promote cardiovascular disease, stroke and an early death. Often referred to as a "silent killer," hypertension frequently runs in families and is largely preventable with blood pressure monitoring along with dietary and lifestyle modifications. Losing just 5 percent of total body weight, along with regular, moderate exercise and limiting most processed foods, can result in normal systolic/diastolic readings for the majority of people. More importantly, recent studies have shown that normal blood pressure readings should be maintained at or below 115/75 mm Hg, and every 20 mm Hg increase over that base reading doubles the risk of a heart attack.
A recent study released by the British Heart Foundation and published in the journal PNAS has determined that a diet combining unsaturated fats with nitrite-rich fats and vegetables such as olive oil and lettuce can protect you from hypertension, helping explain why some previous studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet can lower blood pressure. Scientists in this study determined that a Mediterranean diet, typically consisting of unsaturated fats commonly found in olive oil, nuts and avocados, along with vegetables like spinach, celery and carrots, which are rich in nitrites and nitrates, combine in the body and result in the formation of nitro fatty acids.
Natural foods including watermelon and extra-virgin olive oil help prevent hypertension
Researchers found that the process by which these nitro fatty acids lower blood pressure involves the inhibition of an enzyme known as soluble epoxide hydrolase which regulates blood pressure. Lead study author Dr. Philip Eaton concluded, "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."
One to two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and five to seven daily servings of leafy vegetables can provide nitrites and nitrates to help naturally lower blood pressure.
In an independent study, researchers from Florida State University, publishing in the American Journal of Hypertension, found that eating watermelon could significantly reduce blood pressure in overweight individuals both at rest and while under stress. Scientists conducting the study selected a cohort of 13 middle-aged, obese men and women who also suffered from high blood pressure. During the 12-week course of the study, the team divided members of the group in half. For the first six weeks, one group was given 4 grams of the amino acid L-citrulline and 2 grams of L-arginine per day, both from watermelon extract. The other group was given a placebo for six weeks.
The results of this study confirmed that consuming watermelon had a positive impact on aortic blood pressure and other vascular parameters. Over the past decade, numerous research efforts have clearly shown that diet and lifestyle interventions play a significant role in preventing and reversing the effects of hypertension. These two studies continue to show that consuming natural foods can independently help lower blood pressure and facilitate risk reduction to prevent potentially fatal chronic illnesses including stroke and cardiovascular disease.
About the author: John Phillip is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and Health Researcher and Author who writes regularly on the cutting edge use of diet, lifestyle modifications and targeted supplementation to enhance and improve the quality and length of life. John is the author of 'Your Healthy Weight Loss Plan', a comprehensive EBook explaining how to use Diet, Exercise, Mind and Targeted Supplementation to achieve your weight loss goal. Visit My Optimal Health Resource to continue reading the latest health news updates, and to download your copy of 'Your Healthy Weight Loss Plan'.