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Apparently not every dish with salt is off limits if you suffer from elevated blood pressure. (And many experts do not believe that salt is invariably linked to hypertension.)
A study by a group analyzing the effects of the Mediterranean diet on a population at high risk for cardiovascular problems came to a surprising discovery. It turns out the spicy, Spanish soup known as gazpacho contributes to reducing hypertension.
“Previous clinical and epidemiological studies associate the consumption of gazpacho’s main ingredients (tomato, cucumber, garlic, olive oil, etc.) with an arterial pressure reduction,” explains researcher Alexander Medina-Remón. “This new scientific study states for the first time that a regular consumption of gazpacho is as beneficial as the consumption of its ingredients individually; so gazpacho can reduce hypertension.”
Considering that this cool soup made from an uncooked tomato base is typically salted, its protective affect on arterial pressure came as a surprising one to lead researcher Rosa M. Lamuela: “The reason may be that bioactive elements of gazpacho counteract the effect of salt ingestion.”
Medina-Remón agrees: “Gazpacho highly contains carotenes, vitamin C and polyphenols. The final balance of the bioactive elements of gazpacho and its salt content makes it to be cardio-healthy; in other words, at the end, the positive effect of all the ingredients that contribute to the reduction of arterial pressure prevails over salt’s effect.”
Is garlic gazpacho’s anti-hypertensive secret?
Garlic’s history as a health-saver is long and documented….
Well-known for its multiple disease-fighting therapeutic and pharmacological properties, it’s no surprise that garlic extends these influential benefits to lower your blood pressure also. That’s because this ancient allium can help sweep plaque from your arteries. Garlic has strong cardiovascular-protective effects and the ability to act on multiple enzymes and functions associated with blood pressure control. Regular consumption of garlic results in an average reduction of 5.1 to 8.7 mmHg for systolic and 2.5 to 6.1 mmHg for diastolic measurements.
But that’s not all…
Garlic oil may be used to release natural chemicals that protect heart tissue after a heart attack, during heart surgery or as part of the treatment for heart failure. Scientists at the Emory University School of Medicine have found that a component of garlic oil, called diallyl trisulfide, may be a safe and effective tool for limiting cardiac damage.
Lab studies at Emory indicated that diallyl trisulfide limited heart damage by more than 60 percent.
“Interruption of oxygen and blood flow damages Mitochondria and loss of mitochondrial integrity can lead to cell death,” said researcher Benjamin Predmore, Ph.D. “We see that diallyl sulfide can temporarily turn down the function of mitochondria, preserving them and lowering the production of reactive oxygen species.”
Additionally, the study authors noted that treatment with the garlic compound twice daily following heart failure helped prevent enlargement of the muscle.
Perfect summertime soup
Since gazpacho is a soup best served chilled (which is pretty easy considering it’s one soup you don’t cook), it’s perfect fare for warm weather. If you’d like to give it a try, for the sake of your blood pressure (your taste buds will thank you too), just follow the instructions below. Most gazpacho recipes are quite similar, but you can always try your favorite add-ins, like roasted red pepper, avocado or even corn kernels. My preferred recipe came from thekitchn.com.
- 1 1/2-2 pounds ripe tomatoes
- 2 thick slices day-old bread
- 1 medium cucumber
- 1 or 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- sea salt and pepper
Roughly chop up all your vegetables, but add the tomato to the blender first, along with the torn pieces of day-old bread. Allow a few minutes for the bread to soak up some of the juices of the tomato. Then add the rest of the veggies, sherry and olive oil, and blend until smooth. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Chill before serving, and serve with crusty bread or garlic bagel chips.
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