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Mediterranean Diet: The Best Diet to Lower Blood Pressure (2021)

The Mediterranean diet has been known to be one of the healthiest diet choices one can make. It has Beneficial Effects On Skin, blood glucose, the brain, and, of course, it tastes delicious.

The Mediterranean diet is composed of primarily whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and legumes, as well as healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish which is Good For Your Brain. The Mediterranean diet is typically low in processed foods and red meat. Today we are going to be focusing on how the Mediterranean diet can benefit cardiovascular health through lowering blood pressure.

Why is this important?

Having good blood pressure control is vital to living a long and healthy life. When your it is high it increases the risk of both heart disease and stroke (1). These are the two leading causes of death in America, so getting it under control is important. And although it’s important, it doesn’t mean lowering it is an easy task. In fact, over 63% of those who are 60 years old and over suffer from hypertension, also known as high blood pressure (2). That is more than half of individuals over 60!

But these statistics don't have to be so high. In many cases, these numbers can be reduced through lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise. The food we eat has the power to harm or benefit our bodies health, so why not choose foods that are shown by research to aid in a healthier body and life? When it comes to blood pressure and cardiovascular health, the Mediterranean diet can play an important role. Let's explore how …

The Mediterranean Diet’s Effect on Blood Pressure:

To understand the effects the Mediterranean diet has on blood pressure, first we need to take a look at the research. Most of the research being done around blood pressure and the Mediterranean diet is being done in populations over the age of 60. This is no surprise considering over half of those over 60 years old have high pressure.

In a recent study done in 2019, individuals were given the Mediterranean Diet Snacks to follow that was specifically designed to fit the dietary needs of those over the age of 65 (3). The group receiving this intervention saw an improvement in Blood Glucose. It was determined that the improvements in blood pressure control were mainly attributed to the following components of their diet: increased fruit, vegetable, legume, nut, fish, whole grain, and olive oil intake (3). This means that a Mediterranean diet, which is high in the previously mentioned foods, can be a helpful tool in improving cardiovascular health by reducing it.

Not surprisingly, a study done on over 100 Australian men and women over the age of 64 also shows similar results (4). This study shows that after following a Mediterranean diet consisting of primarily whole plants foods, extra virgin olive oil, and limited processed foods and red meat for 6 months, the individuals saw reduced systolic pressure (4). This means that by incorporating a Mediterranean style diet into your lifestyle, you could be one step closer to better blood pressure control.

How to incorporate the Mediterranean diet:

Now that you know how the Mediterranean diet can help lower the pressure, it's time to figure out how you will implement this diet into your life. An easy way to start following a Mediterranean style diet is to decrease your processed food consumption and increase your whole food consumption. This means instead of reaching for the bag of potato chips for a crunchy snack, try some carrots and hummus with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or some crunchy chickpeas roasted in the oven with extra virgin olive oil and spices. Making small changes like this can make the adjustment to the Mediterranean diet much more doable! If you feel ready to dive deeper into the Mediterranean diet and need resources or ideas on how to start implementing this diet, don't worry because we’ve got you covered.

Check out the following blog posts to learn all about the Mediterranean diet, tips and tricks, snack ideas, and how you can start following it:

Main Takeaway:

High blood pressure increases risk of heart disease and stroke, the two main killers in America. Consuming a Mediterranean style diet, that's high in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and olive oil has been shown to have beneficial effects on lowering pressure in populations of those in the mid-60’s.

Written by Isabelle Hammack

Reviewed by Kelly Powers, MA, RDN, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who takes a holistic approach to nutrition and health. Kelly is a recipe developer with a food blog highlighting whole foods, simple recipes, and her life in San Francisco. She’s the creator of 52 Weeks, a weekly meal plan program that helps users get back in the kitchen and feed themselves well. Kelly is also a co-founder of Olivaio.

Image Credit: pexels.com/@alesiakozik 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is having good blood pressure control important?

A: Blood pressure control is vital to living a long and healthy life. When your it is high it increases the risk of both heart disease and stroke. These are the two leading causes of death in America, so getting it under control is important. More than half of individuals over 60 suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure).

 

Q: What foods are best for blood pressure control?

A:  In a study that showed improvements in blood pressure, the control group was consuming a diet rich in the following components: increased fruit, vegetable, legume, nut, fish, whole grain, and olive oil.

 

Q: How to make the switch to the Mediterranean diet?

A: An easy way to start following a Mediterranean style diet is to decrease your processed food consumption and increase your whole food consumption. This means instead of reaching for the bag of potato chips for a crunchy snack, try some carrots and hummus with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or some crunchy chickpeas roasted in the oven with extra virgin olive oil and spices.