Friday, May 10, 2013

Having Your Cake and Eating It.....Cardiovascularly !

High blood pressure (hypertension), a condition where the systolic blood pressure is greater than 140 mmHg and the diastolic measurement is over 90 mmHg, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Now you can literally protect your heart and lower your blood pressure by sitting down to dine on everything from soup to nuts. So let give you the low down on some foods you probably never really thought as having a positive effect on lowering blood pressure.

SOUP:  A cold vegetable soup featuring tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic and olive oil known as Gazpacho. This Mediterranean (mainly Spanish) vegetable-based soup is rich in phytochemicals. Professor A. Medina-Remon, from the University of Barcelona, and colleagues analyzed data collected in a trial on 3,995 Spanish participants, which aimed to quantify the affects of a Mediterranean diet on a population at-risk for cardiovascular diseases. The researchers found that consumption of Gazpacho was inversely associated with the incidence of hypertension, reporting that the risk could be reduced by as much as 27%, The study authors concluded; The association between Gazpacho intake and reduction of blood pressure is probably due to synergy among several active compounds present in the vegetable ingredients used to make the recipe.''

DINNER:  purple-skinned potatoes contain high levels of antioxidant compounds, including phenolic acids, anthocyanins, and carotenoids. Professor Joseph A. Vinsin, from the University of Scranton (Pennsylvania, U.S.A.), and colleagues enrolled 20 men and women, most of whom were overweight and hypertensive, in a study in which the subjects consumed 6-8 small microwaved purple potatoes once a day, or no potatoes for four weeks; then switched to the opposite regimen for another four weeks. The researchers observed that diastolic blood pressure dropped by an average of 4.5%, while systolic pressure decreased by an average of 3.5%. The study authors concluded that ''purple potatoes are an effective hypotensive agent and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke in hypertensive subjects without weight gain.''

Another study found red beets to have blood pressure easing effect as well. Those that are into juicing will find the beet juice is even more effective in reducing blood pressure than previously thought.  So a combination of these two vegetables and a nice portion of grilled or steamed Atlantic Salmon would make an ideal dinner at least a couple of times a week.

DESSERT:  Blueberries and strawberries are rich in a type of flavonoid compound known as anthocyanin. Dr. Eric Rimm, from Harvard School of Public Health (Massachusetts, U.S.A.), and colleagues analyzed data collected on 133,914 women and 23,043 men, surveying the subjects on their dietary intakes of flavonoids. At the close of the follow-up period of 14 years, the team found that the highest average intakes of anthocyanins (ranging from 16.2 to 21.0 milligrams a day) were associated with an 8% decrease in the risk of hypertension. Notably, the researchers observed that a significant 10% reduction in the risk of hypertension was observed in subjects ages 60-plus who consumed more than one serving of blueberries per week, as compared with people in the same age group consuming no blueberries. The team noted; ''that anthocyanins demonstrate vasodilatory properties....from specific structural similarities (including the B-ring hydroxylation and methyoxylation pattern),'' The researchers explained that the underlying biological mechanisms by which flavonoids regulate blood pressure include the effects of flavonoids on vascular blood flow, vascular reactivity, and glucose uptake.

The Way I See It....A nice handful of blueberries or strawberries mixed in a bowl of Greek yoghurt and sprinkled with walnuts or chopped almonds will enhance one's ability to enjoy the tasty effects of this heart-healthy meal, and the benefit of having your cardiovascular system's hypertension reduced and naturally under control without any of a medical blood pressure drug's side effects that show up over time.

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