Dieting is ingrained in the public mind as the best way to lose weight and get healthy. Simply losing weight, however, may not be the only thing that will vastly improve overall health.
Salt is everywhere in modern American diets. One teaspoon of salt (~2,325g) is the recommended sodium intake for a healthy diet. A single deli sandwich or cheeseburger can have well over 1,000g of sodium–and are only part of one meal. Even healthy food options, like vegetables, may be heavily salted and seasoned before being served.
Why is this important? Salt and its sodium content have long been associated with high blood pressure. Modern research, however, points out that just reducing salt/sodium intake may not be the only major issue affecting blood pressure.
Diets Heavy in Vegetables & Sodium
Over the past several decades, the Mediterranean diet has been found to promote many aspects of health, including blood pressure.. International health and diet guidelines recognize a low-salt Mediterranean diet as one of the best ways to help with the prevention of hypertension. The emphasis of recommendations has always been on the salt.
Current research is revealing, however, that low sodium is not the only positive correlation to the Mediterranean diet. The actual food consumed in the average Mediterranean diet may directly affect health; specifically, blood pressure-related issues.
The Mayo Clinic lists “Plant-based foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, [and] herbs and spices” as the foundation of the diet, noting “Olive oil is the main source of added fat.” The list of foods associated with a Mediterranean diet in relation to blood pressure is noteworthy because the diet is not strictly a low-sodium diet. Rather, many other dietary components are modified when consuming a Mediterranean diet.
Commonly used foods from Mediterranean diets are now being studied to determine their effectiveness in relation to reducing the likelihood of eventual blood pressure-related conditions.
The Power of Specific Mediterranean Diets
A few subtypes of Mediterranean diets are being actively researched. These include:
- Standard Mediterranean diets
- Vegan & vegetarian variations
- Low-energy variations
- Modified Mediterranean diets
- Nutraceuticals related to Mediterranean diets
Early clinical evidence of the efficacy and safety for specific dietary supplements and/or modifications to help with blood pressure is positive. As such, recent data from published statements by both the European and Italian Hypertension Societies have expanded beyond talking just about sodium/salt and are highlighting some other natural components and foods found in Mediterranean diets as efficacious for blood pressure management.
Research at Biofortis
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