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Eat Your Greens, Beans and Nuts

High blood pressure markedly increases risk for heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and premature death. We have known for many years that high-plant diets, such as a Mediterranean diet, lower blood pressure significantly. Now researchers at Kings College London and the University of California have shown that the health benefits of these diets probably come from a combination of:
• unsaturated fatty acids, found in nuts, beans, avocados and olive oil, with
• nitrates and nitrites found in leafy greens, spinach and other vegetables.
These unsaturated fats, nitrates and nitrites combine to form nitro-fatty acids that were shown to lower high blood pressure (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, May 19, 2014).

Technical Explanation of the Experiment
The researchers used genetically-engineered mice to show that nitro-fatty acids lower high blood pressure by blocking the enzyme, epoxide hydrolase. This enzyme constricts arteries to cause high blood pressure both in humans and in normal mice. The study used mice that were genetically engineered to have high blood pressure and not to develop higher blood pressure when given epoxide hydrolase. These mice did not have their high blood pressure lowered when they were given the enzyme-blocking nitro-fatty acids, but normal mice and normal humans do.

Professor Philip Eaton, who led the study, 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." Besides explaining how high-plant diets help to prevent high blood pressure and heart disease, these studies are likely to lead to new nitro-fatty acid drugs to treat high blood pressure.

May 25th, 2014
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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