Tension and stress have become a part and parcel of life which means that hypertension and anxiety-related issues have also become unanimous with our day-to-day lives. Such high statistical numbers of hypertension and impaired blood glucose levels (both of which are serious risk factors for cardiovascular diseases) not only call for effective treatment options but also brings about the need for highly potent preventive methods. BP guidelines saw a change in 2017 and high blood pressure is termed as one that shows systolic blood pressure (SBP) of at least 130 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) of at least 90 mmHg. We live in a world where one in every fourth adult is hypertensive. That’s predominantly due to our current lifestyle and we do have studies showing that diet plays a compelling role in our blood pressure levels besides having a greater impact on body weight.
Lifestyle Changes that Can Change Your Life
Hypertension exists as a dangerous risk factor for stroke, CVD, peripheral arterial disease and death. The very first recommendation by physicians to control high BP levels include a convincing change in diet such as reduced salt consumption, alcohol restrictions, weight control, increased physical activity and hearty fruits and vegetables consumption. We have data from multiple studies that have seriously researched on the effects of diet, especially one rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) consumption such as olive oil and its immediate effect on hypertension. Olive oil has much of oleic acid (MUFA) almost between 55 and 85% of total fatty acids and this was the foundation for a strong health claim and potential benefits established on olive oil around 2004. But we do have results showing the positive effects of bioactive compounds called polyphenols that are abundant in virgin and extra-virgin olive oil. All this being said, olive oil remains an integral part of a Mediterranean diet-a diet which is highly recommended for protecting cardiovascular health. Born in the Mediterranean regions, this diet that potentially favors the consumption of olive oil clearly fails to bring onto us clarity on the very fact whether the impact on blood pressure moderations are solely due to olive oil present in the diet or whether it is the total impact of the diet a whole. Studies have taken up this concern and assessed whether consumption of olive oil reduced blood pressure in adults without any history of CVD.
Olive Oil & Impact on CVD
A meta-analysis was carried out using basic criteria-the individual participating must be above 18 years of age without any previous cardiovascular event, the intervention diet enriched with olive oil was consumed for 12 weeks vs diet enriched with other fat, SBP & DBP outcomes and randomized control trials (RCT). A search was carried out using different combination of keywords that involved both olive oil and hypertension. Two different researchers selected articles independently which was cross-checked by a third researcher and finally there were 872 studies identified. 15 of them were included in the systemic review and meta-analysis. These 15 studies had a total of 6651 participants of whom 3358 had consumed olive oil and the remaining were fed the control diet. While none of the participants suffered from cardiovascular events many of them did have risk factors of CVD-overweight or obesity issues, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, metabolic syndrome and psoriatic arthritis.
Olive oil was served in capsules of 1-6 g/day or in liquid form as extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) between 10ml and 50 ml/day in the form of different diets including the Mediterranean diet. Those studies that included liquid oil used EVOO and those that included capsules used olive oil. The control group consumed different oils including corn oil, soybean oil, etc. Four studies did not administer supplements to the control group and the diets prescribed fulfilled energy requirements in all studies except one where a hypocaloric diet was administered at 1750 kcal/day and 1600 kcal/day for the olive oil and the control group. There was no restriction in physical activity and the groups were even recommended to walk for 30 minutes at least thrice a week. Results showed that:
Different studies support a beneficial effect of olive oil on cardiovascular health while the biggest and long-term ones were carried out in Southern European countries. Olive oil almost reduced mortality rates of CVD by 44% when comparing between consumers and non-consumers. Increase in olive oil consumption decreased the risk of CVD-for every 10 g per 2000 kcal increase the risk decreased by 13%. Another Spanish study showed a 22% decrease in CHD for 28 g/day of olive oil consumption and on an average the risk decreased by 7% for every 10g/d per 2000 kcal. Another cohort study of Italian women showed a significant decrease in CHD risk for the highest quartile of olive oil consumption (almost 32 g/day).
Elder Adults Benefit Too
A study on 31 hypertensive (HT) elderly patients and another 31 normotensive (NT) elderly subjects was conducted and the participants ate a diet rich in sunflower oil (SO) or virgin olive oil (VOO) for 4 weeks. Consumption of VOO decreased total and LDL-cholesterol in NT but not in HT group. Also, inclusion of VOO moderated systolic pressure in the HT group compared to the SO group.
A 1-year trial on 235 men and women aged between 55 and 80 years at high risk of CVD (almost 85% suffered from hypertension) was conducted to study the effects of olive oil. They were either given the Mediterranean diet or the control diet. Participants consuming the Mediterranean diet with EVOO and nuts showed a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure by 2.3- and 2.6-mm Hg respectively whereas a nonsignificant increase of 1.7 mm Hg was observed in the control group. Diastolic pressure showed -1.2, -1.2 and .7 differences in the three groups respectively. After three months of intervention systolic and diastolic pressure reduced significantly in the EVOO and the mixed nuts group compared to the control group. Energy intake from fats was significantly higher in all three diets-almost 43% in the intervention group (EVOO and nuts) and 39% in the control group.
Olive Oil Effect on Hypertensive Women
Yet another study researched on the effect of consumption of polyphenol-rich olive oil on young women with high-normal blood pressure (120-139 mmHg of systolic and 80-89 mmHg of diastolic blood pressure) or stage 1 hypertension (140-159 mmHg of systolic and 90-99 mmHg of diastolic BP). 24 women whose average age was 26 years and BMI around 25.4 completed the study. All the study participants were given a questionnaire on lifestyle information such as dietary habits, smoking, alcohol, physical activity and also were asked on their use of supplements. Before the study the participants experienced a run-in period of 4 months to practice the consumption of a Mediterranean-style diet. Later during the study participants were allocated to the Mediterranean diet that contained polyphenol-rich or polyphenol-free olive oil for 2 months and then by a second dietary 2-month period of the alternate diet that followed after a 4-week washout period. The wash-out and the run-in period had the same diet with the only difference being in dietary fat consumption. Sunflower or corn oil was given during washout/run-in period while polyphenol-rich virgin olive oil and polyphenol-free virgin olive oil (60 ml) was provided for the study period. No supplements were allowed and the participants were asked to maintain a daily food record.
BP and ischemia-reactive hyperemia (IRH) and blood samples were taken after the run-in period and after the polyphenol-rich and polyphenol-free olive oil diets. Results showed that systolic and diastolic BP levels decreased after the polyphenol-rich olive oil but were not impacted by the polyphenol-free olive oil diet after two months. All the participants had systolic BP reading of 140 mmHg or less and 22 of the 24 participants had a diastolic BP of 90 mmHg or less. Its been evident that even a reduction of 5 mmHg in systolic BP and 3 mmHg in diastolic BP reduces cardiovascular morbidity and mortality risk up to 20%. Hence, consumption of a diet rich in polyphenol-rich olive oil decreases hypertension risk significantly.
Effects of Olive Oil on Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review-http://grasasyaceites.revistas.csic.es/index.php/grasasyaceites/article/view/1740/2336
Olive Oil & health Effects: https://www.ocl-journal.org/articles/ocl/full_html/2014/05/ocl140029/ocl140029.html
Virgin Olive Oil Reduces Blood Pressure in Hypertensive Elderly Subjects: https://www.clinicalnutritionjournal.com/article/S0261-5614(04)00024-X/fulltext
Olive Oil Polyphenols Decreases Blood Pressure & Improves Endothelial Function in Young Women with Mild Hypertension: https://academic.oup.com/ajh/article/25/12/1299/231681
Go Nuts & Go Extra Virgin Olive Oil: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.03506
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Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz of First Eat Right clinic, is the Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Bangalore. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Pune. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Hyderabad. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Chennai. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Mumbai. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Delhi. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Kolkata.