Adding This to Your Food May Help Lower Blood Pressure, New Study Finds
High blood pressure is a chronic condition that can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, and dementia, among other conditions. Unfortunately, high blood pressure is all too common among U.S. residents: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47% of U.S. adults have hypertension, and more than 500,000 stateside deaths are attributed each year to this condition.
While you may recognize the things you can cut out of your diet to reduce your risk of high blood pressure—like excess salt, high-fat foods, and caffeine—you may not realize that adding tasty ingredients to your diet could have a similar blood-pressure-lowering effect. According to a new study conducted by researchers at Penn State, adding spices to your cooking may also help reduce your risk of hypertension.
To conduct the study, which was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers assigned 71 adult participants with heart disease risk factors three diets that included a blend of 24 herbs and spices. Study subjects adhered to a diet low in spices for four weeks (consisting of approximately 0.5 grams of spices a day), a diet with moderate spice levels for four weeks (consisting of approximately 3.2 grams of spices a day), and a diet high in spices for four weeks (consisting of approximately 6.5 grams of spices a day), with a two-week rest period between each new eating plan. The subjects had blood drawn prior to starting any of the assigned eating plans, as well as at the end of each four-week diet.
The researchers found that individuals who ate the highest dose of herbs and spices had lower systolic blood pressure as compared to those who consumed the medium dose of herbs and spices and lower diastolic blood pressure than those who consumed the low dose of the herb and spice blend.
"We didn't decrease sodium, we didn't increase fruits and vegetables, we just added herbs and spices. It begs the next question that if we did alter the diet in these ways, how much better would the results be?" Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, one of the study's authors and an Evan Pugh University professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State, said in a statement.
"If you go a step further and add these seasonings to foods that are really good for you like fruits and vegetables, you can potentially get even more health benefits by consuming that extra produce," Kris-Etherton added.
If you need more incentive to get your hypertension under control, check out The Secret Side Effect of High Blood Pressure, Says Study. And for the latest health news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter!
Read this next: