High blood pressure: Best cooking oils to lower your reading

High blood pressure is intimately tied to unhealthy lifestyle decisions. It is well understood that certain dietary decisions, such as eating too much salt, can cause a person’s reading to soar. Over time, a high reading can hike the risk of developing potentially deadly health complications, such as heart disease and stroke. Luckily, making simple dietary tweaks can help to bring high blood pressure down, including cooking with certain oils revealed one study.

Rice bran oil, like sesame oil, is low in saturated fat

Devarajan Sankar

People who cooked with a blend of sesame and rice bran oils saw a significant drop in blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Sessions.

The researchers found cooking with a combination of these oils in a variety of ways worked nearly as well as a commonly prescribed high blood pressure medication, and that the use of the oil blend with medication yielded even more impressive results.

“Rice bran oil, like sesame oil, is low in saturated fat and appears to improve a patient’s cholesterol profile,” said Devarajan Sankar, M.D, Ph.D., a research scientist in the Department of Cardiovascular Disease at Fukuoka University Chikushi Hospital in Chikushino, Japan.

Sankar added: “Additionally, it may reduce heart disease risk in other ways, including being a substitute for less healthy oils and fats in the diet.”

The 60-day study in New Delhi, India, divided 300 people with mild to moderately high blood pressure into three groups. One group was treated with a commonly used blood pressure lowering medication called a calcium-channel blocker (nifedipine). The second group was given the oil blend and told to use about an ounce each day in their meals.

The final group received the calcium channel blocker and the oil blend.

All three groups, with approximately an equal number of men and women, average age of 57, saw drops in their systolic blood pressure.

Systolic blood pressure is the top number in a blood pressure reading and measures the force of blood against a person’s artery walls when their heart is pumping.

Systolic blood pressure dropped an average of 14 points for those using only the oil blend and 16 points for those taking medication. Those using both saw a 36-point drop.

Diastolic blood pressure also dropped significantly: 11 points for those eating the oil, 12 for those on medication and 24 for those using both. Diastolic blood pressure is the bottom number in a blood pressure reading that measures the force of blood against your artery walls when a person’s heart is at rest between beats.

Healthier fatty acids and antioxidants, such as sesamin, sesamol, sesamolin and oryzanol, in the oil blends may be responsible for the results, Sankar said. These antioxidants, mono and poly unsaturated oils are compounds found in plants and have been linked with lower blood pressure and total cholesterol in earlier studies.

According to medical website LiveStrong, sunflower oil may also help to lower high blood pressure. As the health body explained, sunflower cooking oil supplies the highest level of vitamin E when compared to all other vegetable oils.

“Vitamin E plays a role in normalising blood pressure, so it’s important to get enough of it in a person’s diet – 15 mg per day for most adults,” it advised.

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