A diet that combines unsaturated fats with nitrite-rich vegetables, such as olive oil and lettuce, can protect you from hypertension, suggests a new study led by King's College London. The findings, published in the journal PNAS, help to explain why some previous studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet can reduce blood pressure.
The Mediterranean diet typically includes unsaturated fats found in olive oil, nuts and avocados, along with vegetables like spinach, celery and carrots that are rich in nitrites and nitrates.
When these two food groups are combined, the reaction of unsaturated fatty acids with nitrogen compounds in the vegetables results in the formation of nitro fatty acids.
The study used mice to investigate the process by which these nitro fatty acids lower blood pressure, looking at whether they inhibited an enzyme known as soluble Epoxide Hydrolase which regulates blood pressure.