This webpage is a companion to Step 4 of our book:
Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide
Step 4 discusses the benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet for blood pressure, with a particular focus on choosing the healthiest grain-based foods – and the healthiest fats. Yes, not all fats are bad for us and some historical health advice is now being overturned. You don’t need to avoid all fatty food to lower your blood pressure!
Mediterranean Living: Foods that lower blood pressure naturally
There’s a good article about the Mediterranean diet here:
Positive Health Wellness – Mediterranean Diet
And if you’ve found yourself on this webpage without having bought our book, you can get an overview on our own article here:
Mediterranean diet for high blood pressure
DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)
You can download copies of the DASH diet. It’s a bit regimented but there are some good recipes in the back. Note that their advice on following a low-fat diet is now outdated. Also, it’s debatable whether it’s worth specifically following a low-sodium diet (read more about the salt debate on the Step 3 webpage).
DASH Diet short version
DASH Diet Full version
Tips on eating whole grains and list of whole grain ingredients:
Choose My Plate – Grains Tips (US government website)
Again, for those of you who don’t yet have the guide, a wee overview of whole grains in our article here:
Whole grains for high blood pressure
Whole grain recipes and baking tips
Here are some good sources of recipes using whole grain flour:
Whole Grains Council recipes
Tips on baking with whole grain flours:
Baking with whole grain flours (vegkitchen.com)
Bake with whole grains (wikihow.com)
How healthy is wheat?
There is increasing debate about the healthiness of wheat. Most of it centres around the fact that, since huge-scale agribusiness took hold, modern wheat has been intensively bred and genetically engineered so much that it has become quite different from what we used to know as ‘wheat’.
Nutritional decline of wheat
Many argue that modern wheat is significantly lower in nutritional value than the wheat being eaten even a few generations ago and that it is also now less suited to the human digestive system.
Some argue that widespread consumption of this ‘inferior’ wheat is responsible for the increase in health problems like diabetes, obesity, irritable bowel system, and digestive problems – and explains why wheat intolerance is on the rise (this is different from coeliac disease, which is an intolerance of gluten)*.
They note that this applies to whole wheat as much as refined wheat, because the wheat strain itself is so degraded that even the whole grain form of it has limited benefits.
Conversely, they argue that avoiding wheat can have substantial health benefits. There’s not yet any overall consensus though so, in the meantime, you are best to do whatever you find suits your body.
You may want to experiment with cutting down on wheat and replacing it with other grains – or even with other types of foods – to see if you notice any difference in your digestion, weight, energy levels, etc.
However, if you’re not concerned about this, or find the issue confusing, then just focus on replacing any refined grain products you eat with whole grain versions, as discussed above.
Some articles why wheat may not be so healthy now:
What’s wrong with modern wheat (grainstorm.com)
The problems with modern wheat (Mark’s Daily Apple)
How healthy are grains?
Some health experts recommend that we avoid grains completely. This is based on the idea that grains have entered the human diet relatively recently in our evolution and as such our bodies are not yet fully adapted to processing and digesting grains.
Some thus recommend following what’s called the “Paleo diet”, often dubbed the “Caveman diet” – a diet based on the kinds of food our stone age ancestors ate – fish, wild meat, eggs, fruit, roots, vegetables, nuts – a diet that’s high in protein and fibre and low in carbohydrates.
This might sound wacky or unnecessary, but there’s a growing amount of research that suggests eating grains can be related to a variety of chronic health problems, including obesity, diabetes, and various disorders of digestion.
If you’re interested, you can read more about this here:
The Paleo Diet: 15 Health Benefits – JenReviews.com
The paleo diet – short summary – webmd.com
Even some who don’t subscribe to the paleo diet hypothesis argue that the modern form of grains which are intensively bred and often genetically modified are not healthy eating. You can read more about this here:
Grains and Human Evolution
Why Grains Are Unhealthy – Mark’s Daily Apple
Oils and Fats
There’s an ongoing debate over the role of fat in blood pressure and health, with more and more research showing that fat and saturated fat are not bad for you in the way government health authorities have suggested (except trans fats).
This is obviously very counter-intuitive and may be hard to believe. The links below give detailed information and evidence.
Clear and comprehensive summary of the state of the debate:
Looks like the medical establishment was wrong about fat (Business Insider)
Saturated fat’s role in heart disease is a myth (Medical News Today)
Why we shouldn’t have been told to eat less fat in the first place:
Links between saturated fat and health have no scientific basis (Herald Scotland)
Saturated Fat: Good or Bad? (Healthline.com)
Is Saturated Fat Okay Again? Not so Fast (Irish Times)
Plus our own brief article, with more links:
Saturated fat and high blood pressure
Many attribute the advent of the low-fat diet to the ‘Seven Countries Study’ conducted by Ancel Keys, in the 1950s and 60s. However, a re-examination of that study and others (by the True Health Commission) shows that Ancel Keys considered that total fat intake was less important than types of fat, and also that levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood were central to the effect of fat intake on heart disease – findings which most research supports today. He certainly did not advocate a low-fat diet.
The original article by the True Health Commission on the Seven Countries Study is no longer available online but you can read about it here:
True Health Initiative Releases White Paper on Seven Countries Study, Work of Ancel Keys
Like saturated fat, your body needs cholesterol. However, again like saturated fat, cholesterol has been demonised a bit too much. As explained in Step 4, there are different kinds of cholesterol, which have different actions and effects in our body, with LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol being ‘bad’ for us, while HDL (high density lipoprotein) is ‘good’. So our total cholesterol levels are less significant than the ratio of different kinds of cholesterol, and other fats. Indeed, there are even different kinds of LDL cholesterol, some of which are more benign than others.
The standard view of cholesterol and high blood pressure is that lowering your LDL cholesterol levels may lower your risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart disease, and can help lower your blood pressure. This is because the more LDL cholesterol you have in your blood, the more it can get deposited on the walls of your arteries. This hardens the arteries, making them less flexible, and the heart then has to work harder to pump blood through – all of which increases your blood pressure. High blood pressure itself can also damage the walls of your arteries, making it easier for cholesterol to be deposited, and so a vicious circle can develop.
However, some doctors and researchers question this view, arguing that there’s no clear relationship between high cholesterol levels and increased risk of heart disease. Indeed, some argue that since cholesterol is an essential component of cell walls, higher cholesterol levels in those with damaged arteries may be a symptom and sign of the damage, not a cause of it. In other words, the body is sending cholesterol to repair the artery walls which have been damaged by some other process, probably chronic inflammation (which is now known to contribute to high blood pressure and many other health problems).
Read more of this side of the debate here:
High cholesterol does not cause heart disease (The Telegraph)
Does cholesterol really cause heart disease (Dr Will Cole.com)
Cholesterol isn’t the problem in heart disease: inflammation is (Mercola.com)
Omega 3 Supplements
Omega 3 fatty acid supplements are most commonly found in the form of fish oils (the omega 3s are called EPA and DHA). You can also get flax seed-based supplements (omega 3s called ALA) if you’re vegan.
Omega-3 capsules made from flax seed are cheaper than those derived from fish oil, although some argue that they’re less effective, since they contain ALA rather than DHA and EPA, which have more established health benefits.
You can buy a good quality plant-based (vegan) omega-3 supplement here. Unlike other plant-based omega-3 supplements, it’s made from algae and actually contains a good amount of DHA:
Ora Organic Omega-3
For information on the nutrient content of fish and shellfish (or anything else), just type it in here and search:
USDA Food Composition Database
For the best fish to eat for your health:
12 types of best fish to eat (Healthline.com)
For the mercury content of fish:
Should you avoid fish because of mercury? (Healthline.com)
Greenpeace has created a ‘red list’ of fish that are most endangered by overfishing and damage to their environment. It includes Atlantic salmon, halibut, and various tunas.
Greenpeace Fish Red List
Send us your ideas and suggestions
If there are other websites, resources or products you’ve found useful and you think would be useful to others, please email them to us and we’ll include them: simon [at] highbloodpressurebegone.com
NOTE: This page is designed to be a companion page to Step 4 of our guide, ‘Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally’. As such, it only contains supplementary resources rather than being a full discussion of Mediterranean-style eating.
For more information on foods that lower blood pressure naturally, you can further browse this website or, of course, buy the guide..!
ANOTHER NOTE: We’ve supplied Amazon links to those products that may be a little trickier to find, as Amazon is popular and convenient to use. However, Amazon aren’t known to be the most ethical company (we do not endorse them ourselves) so we recommend buying your healthy products in your local shops if you can!