In the News: A diet rich in fish, seeds and nuts can cut blood pressure risk

A large percentage of people have a subtle rise in blood pressure as they age and by middle age many of them have high blood pressure. New research has suggested that a diet rich in fish, nuts and seeds – in other words rich in omega 3 essential fatty acids – could help to lower a person’s blood pressure.


The study, reported recently in the American Heart Association Journal Circulation, looked at diet and its relation to blood pressure in 4,680 men and women aged 40 to 60 and living in Europe, China, Japan and the United States. Researchers adjusted for variables known to influence blood pressure, for example age, gender, salt intake and exercise. The people with diets rich in omega 3 fatty acids have slightly lower blood pressure than those who ate foods with less omega 3.  


To lower your blood pressure risk you need to eat less salt, manage your weight, avoid heavy drinking and eat more vegetables, whole grains and fruits for their fibre, minerals, vegetable protein and other nutrients and, as this study shows, you also need to ensure you get enough omega 3 fatty acids. When it comes to omega 3, bear in mind that not all fish and nuts are equal. Fatty fish such as trout, salmon and mackerel are rich in omega 3 and walnuts, flaxseeds and canola oil are also good sources. Omega 3 fatty acid intake has also been linked to better brain development and an overall lower risk of heart disease and cancer. 


If you do not like eating oily fish then you can always take omega 3 oils in supplement form (see Omega 3 Plus on the Resources page).


Omega 3 rich oily fish, nuts and seeds are, along with fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, vital components of a Mediterranean style diet. In December 2007 yet another study was published in the journal, Archives of Internal Medicine pointing to longer life expectancy with the Mediterranean diet.


Over five years scientists rated several thousand volunteers on how closely they kept to a Mediterranean regime and those who stuck closely to the diet were shown to be less likely to die in that time period of any cause, including heart disease and cancer. Earlier last year researchers from the UK‘s National Heart and Lung Institute found that a Mediterranean diet helped prevent asthma and respiratory allergies in children. Also last year US researchers found that the diet reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s.

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