Hundreds of studies show that the Mediterranean diet lowers heart disease risk. But, how does it do it? A study from the University of California at Davis might have found the answer to that question. The researchers gave mice an enzyme inhibitor that lowered blood pressure in wild mice, but not in mice engineered to have a defect in this enzyme. They then fed the mice the Mediterranean-style diet, which has unsaturated fats from olives, nuts and fish oils, as well as nitrates from vegetables. This combination formed a nitro fatty acid in the body that lowered blood pressure by the same mechanism as the enzyme inhibitor. The researchers conclude that, “…this provides insights on the mechanism behind how eating vegetables aids in the reduction of risk [for high blood pressure].”
Charles R, Rudyk O, Prysyazhna O, et al: Protection from hypertension in mice by the Mediterranean diet is mediated by nitro fatty acid inhibition of soluble epoxide hydrolase. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2014;May 19th.