In recent times, a number of researchers have put the well known healthy foods and beverages under scanner, questioning their beneficial role in human life. The benefits of drinking red wine and eating fish are being reexamined, in the wake of these researches. However, a new study carried out in the UK corroborates the age old theory of Mediterranean diet being good for heart health. The study points out why using a combination of leafy green vegetables and olive oil can be beneficial for the heart. This study was carried out on lab rodents, but it is likely the results will be identical to humans, say the researchers. The study was sponsored by organizations like British Heart Foundation and Medical Research Council UK.
It was always unclear to researchers why a Mediterranean diet, which is replete with some fatty foods and beverages can be so healthy for the heart. They could not figure out how and why the fats turned out to be beneficial for cardiovascular health. After the study, they have reached a conclusion. The reason Olive oil turns out to be healthy for the heart is because of the way it is used in the Mediterranean diet. It is used in combination with greens like celery and spinach. The healthy fats in olive oil blended with nitrates and nitrites in those vegetables make Nitro fatty acid, a compound that is good for the heart. It reduces blood pressure and relaxes blood vessels. The findings of the study can be found in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study authors carried out the experiment on lab mice. They fed a group of mice that had high blood pressure, omega-6 fatty acids and sodium nitrite. This is comparable to the blend of olive oil and greens. At the end of 5th day, they found blood pressure level in those mice came down. The researchers think eating avocados can also bring the same results since these fruits are replete with healthy unsaturated fats.
Philip Eaton, who led this study, 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.” He is a Cardiovascular Biochemistry Professor working in King's College London.
The study author thinks the diet is important for aiding people having cardiac issues. He added, “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. 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.”