The Blood Pressure Lowering Qualities of Olive Oil – a Mediterranean secret no longer.
The Mediterranean diet gets a lot of press for being good for your heart, and good for your blood pressure. The Mediterranean diet involves eating a lot of plant foods – fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, as well as fish and seafood – and of course a good glass of red wine or two! You can read more about it here: Mediterranean diet for high blood pressure.
However, what has been singled out by some experts as the most important ingredient of the Mediterranean diet in protecting against heart disease and high blood pressure is olive oil.
Health benefits of Olive oil
Although the Mediterranean diet varies from region to region, all Mediterranean countries use hearty amounts of olive oil in their cuisine.
The olive tree is native to the region around the Mediterranean sea and wild olives were collected by Stone Age peoples at least as early as ten thousand years ago. Olive trees were cultivated, and olive oil began to be produced from the olives, by at least four and a half thousand years ago, and olive oil became a valuable items of trade and commerce. As well as a source of food and wealth, olive oil has also been used in sacred rituals, for lamp fuel, medicines, and skin products – indeed, ancient Greeks used to rub themselves in olive oil while exercising in gyms…
Olive oil has protective effects on the health of your heart and arteries, and so helps in keeping blood pressure at healthy levels.
The US Food and Drug Administration allows olive oil products to carry the claim that “Eating two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease” – as long as you are using it to replace saturated fats in your diet, rather than adding to your total fat intake.
Olive oil blood pressure lowering qualities
The reason olive oil has such health benefits, is because it is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, such as oleic acid.
Such fats help lower your cholesterol levels, which protects against hardening of the arteries and heart disease. They also help stablilise blood sugar and insulin levels, which is also good for blood pressure (as well as diabetes).
You might be concerned that olive oil is high in fat. Well, it’s important to get away from the idea that high-fat = bad for your health. More and more research is disproving the notion that a low fat diet is good for your health and blood pressure and in any case, health experts agree that the type of fats in olive oil are particularly good for your heart and blood pressure.
Olive oil is also high in antioxidants like polyphenols which protect your arteries from damage. Basically, when particles called ‘free radicals’ interact with certain types of cholesterol, this can cause damage to the walls of the arteries, so olive oil works to double effect here – the fatty acids in olive oil lower the cholesterol in your blood, while the antioxidants prevent the cholesterol from being built up on the walls of the arteries, hardening and narrowing them.
Antioxidants in olive oil also stimulate the production of nitric oxide, which has the effect of dilating blood vessels.
How much olive oil?
Use at least 2 tablespoons of olive oil each day. You can use it to replace other fats – it’s certainly far healthier than canola oil and other vegetable oils – or also just add to your diet.
How to use olive oil?
Some of the antioxidants in olive oil are degraded or destroyed by heat – so the less heat you cook with, the more benefits you get. Use olive oil raw as much as possible:
– drizzle on toast or bread, in salad sandwiches, in mashed potatoes, over cooked vegetables, add a little to pasta after cooking
– use in salads on its own, or with a squeeze of lemon juice, or make a dressing (for example, 2/3 olive oil, 1/3 cider vinegar, chopped garlic, oregano, a little sea salt, a dash of cayenne pepper – all these ingredients are good for blood pressure!)
Olive oil is also a healthier oil to cook with than other oils (though saturated oils like coconut oil and palm oil are much better). All oils start to break down at high temperatures, forming unhealthy substances. However, the polyphenol antioxidants in olive oil slow the development of the unhealthy compounds a little.
Even so, always heat things slowly and gently, and if roasting, roast at low heat – olive oil is great drizzled over lots of root vegetables and slow-roasted for an hour or so.
What’s the best type of olive oil for blood pressure lowering?
Get the best. Cold pressed, extra virgin – the best flavour and by far the best for you. ‘Virgin’ means it was pressed out of the olives mechanically only, with no chemicals being used; and ‘extra-virgin’ is the first pressing of virgin olive oil. It’s considered to be the highest quality and is considered to have a better flavour and smell. ‘Cold-pressed’ means it was pressed out without using heat. Since heat can degrade olive oil, cold-pressed is the best.
Other olive oils have the oil extracted using chemical solvents, which degrade the healthy components of the olive oil.
Although other olive oils may be “100% olive oil”, if they’re not 100% cold-pressed extra-virgin, they won’t have as strong health benefits. Read the label carefully, because some olive oils are passed of as being of higher grade than they really are.
You get what you pay for though. 100% cold-pressed extra-virgin can be significantly more expensive than other olive oils, so you should probably be suspicious if you see it sold very cheaply. It is worth the extra outlay though. At least buy this kind of olive oil to use raw, and save lesser olive oils for cooking.
Also pay attention to how it’s bottled. Because olive oil is sensitive to light, you want it to be in a dark bottle (dark green is the most common), so it hasn’t already lost most of its benefits by the time you get it home.
Storing olive oil
The taste and nutrient quality of olive oil can be affected by heat and light, so store olive oil in a dark cool place. Don’t keep it in the fridge though, as it will solidify – or if you do, then you’ll need to take it out a while before you use it to return to liquid form again. If you’re making salad dressings with it, add a little of another oil to counteract this effect.
Olive oil is also negatively affected by air so if you have a huge bottle that you keep opening and closing, the olive oil will lose many of its benefits even over a few months. Either buy it in smaller bottles, or pour it off into smaller (dark glass) bottles and keep those sealed until you’re ready to use them.
So get into the Mediterranean habit with blood pressure lowering olive oil and use it liberally.
And eat olives!
Lower your blood pressure naturally (for less cost)
In addition to olive oil there is a large choice of affordable natural ingredients that lower blood pressure. Many of these spices, herbs, berries, fruits, grains, vegetables, meats and drinks are available in local stores.
Of course there are other factors beyond diet (like fitness and stress) that affects your blood pressure. So the best way to lower your blood pressure without drugs is to apply a broader approach – covering all causes and cures with natural home-based remedies.
These progressive steps are based on the principle that positive incremental change is always best in health matters.
Each chapter will take you further along the road of greater vigour and peace of mind (and a healthy blood pressure).
Click on the link below for more information:
P.S. This guide shows you how to lower your blood pressure permanently and naturally without side-effects or complications.
Follow each step to get your blood pressure back in balance.
Choose between a wide range of delicious foods that reduce your blood pressure. Include a number of mental and physical exercises in your schedule for both relaxation and invigoration.
Following this guide will reduce, and in time, eliminate your need for blood pressure lowering medications.
This is a guide for good healthy living and will be beneficial for all – even if you don’t currently suffer from high blood pressure.
To download a sample of the guide to your computer right now click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for the download link.