Olive oil could ‘protect against hypertension’

20 May 2014

Eating a diet that combines unsaturated fats with nitrite-rich vegetables, such as olive oil and lettuce, could protect a person from hypertension, according to a new study from King’s College London.

The findings from the research appear to explain why some previous investigations have shown that a Mediterranean diet could lower blood pressure.

Such a diet generally includes unsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts and olive oil, as well as in vegetables like spinach, celery and carrots that contain an abundance of nitrites and nitrates. 

When these food-types are combined, the reaction of unsaturated fatty acids with nitrogen compounds in the vegetables results in the creation of nitro fatty acids.

Using mice models, researchers investigated the process by which these compounds lower blood pressure. They were particularly interested in whether they inhibited an enzyme known as Epoxide Hydrolase, as this regulates blood pressure.

Mice - genetically engineered to be resistant to this inhibitory process - were found to maintain their hypertension, despite being fed a Mediterranean diet. However, nitro fatty acids were discovered to lower the blood pressure of normal mice.

Philip Eaton, a professor of Cardiovascular Biochemistry at King's College London, 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."

Posted by Edward Bartel

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