There’s a lot that goes into your blood pressure. That includes the food you eat.
Most experts recommended a diet that’s high in fiber and healthy fats and low in processed food to manage or lower blood pressure. The effect of such a diet might work in a few ways: it may help you lose weight, reduce inflammation, and limit arterial plaque.
But a new study is showing certain heart-healthy foods may have a different benefit.
The research, published in Hypertension, suggests that foods that have a positive impact on your gut microbiome – the population of bacteria living in your gut – may also contribute to lower blood pressure.
People who regularly eat apples, pears, berries, and red wine tended to have lower blood pressure than those that did not regularly consume those foods.
Of course, all those foods are high in fiber (with the exception of red wine), which is good for heart health and blood pressure. High fiber foods also feed healthy gut bacteria.
But the researchers looked a little further. After all, there are a host of foods that are high in fiber (and plant-based). They noticed that resveratrol, an antioxidant found in high amounts in these items, may be the reason.
Resveratrol is already recognized to have value for heart health. It’s been noted to have positive effects on blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as improving blood vessel function.
The new findings add even more: those flavonoid-rich foods were linked with greater microbiome diversity, which is also linked to better heart – and overall – health.
The researchers noted that the greater gut diversity contributed to lower systolic blood pressure (the top number in a reading). They found that people who ate the most pears and apples had a 2 – 4 point lower systolic blood pressure than those that ate the least.
Similar benefits were found in those who drank about three glasses of red wine per week.
They found that gut diversity played about a 15 percent role in the link these foods shared with blood pressure.
Of course, the focus should always be on the overall diet and not a handful of items. Building a high-quality diet that’s rich in plant-based foods and unprocessed meat is the best option and gives you the best chance for optimal heart health.