Mediterranean Diet for High Blood Pressure
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, said Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, in ancient Greece. “You are what you eat”, say people nowadays. And it’s all true.
What you eat certainly plays an integral role in the state of your cardiovascular system and blood pressure. What you eat certainly plays an integral role in the state of your cardiovascular system and blood pressure, and changing what you eat, can be as effective, or more so, than taking ‘medicine’.
So why not medicate yourself with food, rather than drugs?
Back in the day….
Back in the days of smaller scale food cultivation and production, and before, food was widely used as medicine, to treat various diseases and disorders, as well as nourishing the population more generally.
It was a bit easier back then though, because food was more nutritious. Now we live in an age when large-scale agriculture has depleted soils, decreasing the nutrients available to plants, to the animals feeding on the plants, and to us; and an age when many foods have their nutrient content further diminished by heat or chemical ‘processing’ and the addition of unhealthy ‘preservatives’ and ‘flavourings’.
As as result, this age of convenience foods is not an age of best health!
But don’t worry – eating good food still promotes healing and health, but you do have to pay a bit more attention to what and how you eat, and drink. This applies not only to what foods you eat, but to the quality of those foods. This might mean spending a bit more time, and sometimes money, on a well-produced and appropriately packaged product, but it’s worth it for the greater health benefits it’ll give.
Food still can be medicine, as Hippocrates recommended.
And Hippocrates would have known a thing or two about good diets, living in the Mediterranean…
The Mediterranean diet
The ‘Mediterranean diet’ refers to the eating patterns of the countries bordering the Mediterranean sea. Although these countries – including France, Spain, Italy, Greece – have different culinary traditions, their diets have in several elements in common.
This ‘Mediterranean diet’ has received a lot of press for being good for the heart, and health in general, and is even recommended by US health authorities (as part of their ‘Dietary Guidelines for Americans’).
Studies show that eating a Mediterranean diet is associated with lower risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, as well as reduced risk of cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
The Mediterranean diet first came to medical and public attention during an intensive long-term study in the sixties, investigating the relationship between diet, lifestyle and cardiovascular health in seven countries across the world.
It was found that deaths from heart and cardiovascular problems were far higher in Northern Europe and North America compared to southern Europe, and it became clear that the link was the eating pattern common to these southern European regions – i.e., the areas bordering the Mediterranean sea.
The study also showed the converse – that when some of those Southern European/Mediterranean people shifted towards a more North European/American eating pattern, their rate of heart disease went up.
This was particularly puzzling because the Mediterranean peoples generally had as much fat in their diet as Northern Europeans/Americans, and, until then, too much fat had been pegged as the main problem in cardiovascular ill-health.
This seemed to be a paradox (sometimes called ‘The French Paradox’ ), until it was discovered that the type of fats eaten are as important, or more so, than the amount of fat, for good heart and circulatory health – and Mediterraneans ate ‘better’ fats.
What is the Mediterranean diet for High Blood Pressure?
The base of the Mediterranean diet is plant foods – vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, legumes, whole grains, olive oil. Fish and seafood are eaten several times a week. Eggs, and dairy products (mostly cheese and yoghurt) are eaten daily, or several times a week, but in moderate portions. Poultry is eaten occasionally, but red meat and sweets are eaten only rarely. And, of course, meals are often accompanied by a little red wine (see Step 1)…
This kind of eating pattern is healthy because it offers balanced amounts of all the essential types of dietary nutrient – vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates (water is the other essential nutrient) – and it offers these nutrients in their healthiest forms.
- Vitamins and minerals – the wide range of fruits and vegetables that are eaten makes a wide range of vitamins and minerals available
- Proteins and fats – much of the protein comes from fish, seafood, legumes and nuts, rather than meat, and these are much healthier sources of proteins because the fats they contain are healthier; also olive oil is used rather than butter or vegetable oils, and has specific benefits for the heart and circulation
- Carbohydrates – the main carbohydrate sources are high in fibre and low in sugar – legumes, beans, vegetables, and whole grains
You may also have heard of the ‘DASH diet’ – ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’ – an eating plan put forward by the US health authorities to reduce and prevent high blood pressure. This is quite similar to the ‘Mediterranean diet for high blood pressure’, except that the Mediterranean diet puts more emphasis on fruits and vegetables, and on eating healthier fats, rather than just reducing fats.
In fact, a lot of research now shows that eating a low-fat diet doesn’t help your blood pressure. This is worsened by the fact that a lot of low-fat products are high in sugar, which can be quite harmful for your blood pressure and general health. So forget the low-fat stuff – eat the real thing, but of course, don’t eat too much of it.
So, by following a Mediterranean diet for high blood pressure, you can lower your blood pressure, but still enjoy delicious food and drink.
Some key tips:
- eat a lot of fruit and vegetables – best to get most of your fibre from these than from grains, actually
- eat whole grains instead of refined grain products
- use olive oil instead of other oils and margarine etc – see our post on olive oil and blood pressure lowering
- eat fatty fish a lot, and avoid processed meats (though unprocessed meat is fine)
Live the good life….
Lower your blood pressure naturally (for less cost)
A diet that’s healthy for blood pressure doesn’t have to be limited to those foods characteristic of the Mediterranean diet, however. There is actually a large choice of affordable natural ingredients that lower blood pressure, and 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.