Scientists say they’ve unlocked the secret of the Mediterranean diet.
The study, which was done at King’s College in London, showed that leafy vegetables eaten in combination with olive oil can lower the risk of high blood pressure in mice.
When these are combined, the research showed, they produced nitro fatty acids, which was found to lower blood pressure by blocking the enzyme epoxide hydrolase.
The researchers also say that nuts and avocados could be used as well as olive oil and that celery and carrots could supplement leafy greens.
A Mediterranean diet is high in fruits, vegetable, legumes and unrefined cereals.
“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,” said Philip Eaton, professor of cardiovascular biochemistry at King’s College, in a statement.
The study was partly funded by the British Heart Foundation and showed that genetically engineered mice who were resistant to epoxide hydrolase inhibition, maintained high blood pressure despite eating a Mediterranean diet. Normal mice benefited from the diet.
A spokesperson for the American Heart Association said the organization would like to see how humans following the diet would be affected.
“This is animal study data,” said Linda Van Horn, a professor of preventive medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Clearly, the value of the data are of interest, and the AHA diet recommendations are very much in line with a Mediterranean diet, but it is really important to remember that animal research, while interesting and useful in generating hypotheses, really must be demonstrated in humans before AHA would make any modifications of existing dietary recommendations.” Human trials are expected to follow.