Hypertension is a major public health problem; it affects about 25% of the adult population. It is also the main risk factor of myocardial or cerebral infarction, which is a leading cause of death in western population. This new publication has analysed the effect of gazpacho consumption in 3,995 individuals of the study PREDIMED, which analyses the effects of Mediterranean diet on the population at high cardiovascular risk to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
"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 Alexander Medina-Remón. "This new scientific study," he continues, "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."
According to the professor Rosa M. Lamuela, in charge of the Research Group on Natural Antioxidant of the UB and coordinator of the study, the protecting effect of gazpacho on arterial pressure has been a finding "an unexpected one, as it contains salt, one of the restricted ingredients to maintain arterial pressure levels. Despite this, the results of the study describe that arterial pressure of gazpacho consumers is lower than the one of non-consumers. The reason may be that bioactive elements of gazpacho counteract the effect of salt ingestion."
How can these results about gazpacho consumption be explained? According to the researcher Alexander Medina-Remón, "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." Experts have also used statistical techniques of logistic regression to know to what extent the consumption of gazpacho can reduce the risk of suffering hypertension. As Medina-Remón remarks, "the risk could be reduced up to 27 % in some profiles of consumers."
The research groups of the following institutions have also participated in this multi-focus and interdisciplinary study: the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, the IDIBAPS, the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM), the University of Navarra, the University of Valencia, the Rovira i Virgili University, the University of Malaga, the Instituto de la Grasa-CSIC, the San Pablo Healthcare Center, the University Research Institute on Health Sciences and the University Hospital of Álava. In the future, the research group will promote some study lines on the mechanisms of action that associate the consumption of food rich in polyphenols with an arterial pressure reduction, a process that probably is related to an increase of nitric oxide, a molecule with vasodilation properties on cardiovascular system.
The Research Group on Natural Antioxidant of the UB, which has carried out several remarkable international studies on nutrition and cardiovascular disease prevention, is part of the Department of Nutrition and Bromatology of the UB, the Food Technology Reference Net of the Government of Catalonia (XARTA) and the Nutrition and Food Safety Research Institute (INSA-UB). The research group is also member of the networks CIBER of Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBERobn) and RETICS, from the Carlos III Health Institute.