DRIZZLING your salad with olive oil won’t just make it more tasty – it could also help keep your blood pressure down.
A sprinkling of nuts or a few slices of avocado could also help.
The advice follows a new British study that suggests that unsaturated fats found in olive oil make lettuce extra good for you.
According to the researchers from King’s College London, a chemical reaction occurs in the stomach when you eat the two types of food, a chemical reaction occurs in the stomach.
The reaction creates compounds called nitro fatty acids, which in turn, react with an enzyme, to lower high blood pressure, experiments on mice have shown.
Often dubbed the ‘silent killer’ because the symptoms go unnoticed, high blood pressure trebles the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
It can also damage the kidneys and eyes and is becoming increasingly linked to dementia.
The finding, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that doing something as simple as tossing salad in olive oil could make a difference to health.
The two key ingredients for the chemical reaction to occur are the unsaturated fats found in olive oil, nuts, avocados and oily fish and compounds called nitrites, which are found in high levels in many salad vegetables including lettuce, spinach, celery, carrots and beetroot.
Meanwhile an American scientist who worked on the study with the British team is trying to create a pill that produces the benefits of nitro fatty acids, without the need to eat copious amounts of lettuce.
King’s College London researcher Philip Eaton said the study could help explain why Mediterranean diet is good for the heart – despite followers eating large amounts of olive oil and other fats.
He said: ‘The findings of our study help explain why previous research has shown that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, or nuts can reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems like stroke, heart failure and heart attacks.’
Dr Sanjay Thakkar, of the British Heart Foundation, which co-funded the research said: ‘This interesting study goes some way to explain why a Mediterranean diet appears to be good for your heart health.
‘The results showed a way in which a particular compound could combat high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
‘However, more work is necessary as these experiments were conducted in mice and this compound could also be having its effect through other pathways.’
Meanwhile, for a tasty – and healthy – simple salad dressing, check out this recipe here.