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Teaspoon of herbs and spices lowers blood pressure and stroke risk

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Sprinkling herbs and spices on food improves heart health and could help reduce stroke risk, according to new research.

Just over a teaspoon of common herbs and spices each day lowers blood pressure within a month, the researchers found.

Flavourings to have a protective effect on the arteries include cinnamon, ginger, basil, turmeric and garlic.

Lead author Professor Penny Kris-Etherton of Penn State University, said: “Adding herbs and spices to your food is a great way to add flavour without adding extra salt, sugar or saturated fat.

“And, 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.”

High blood pressure of hypertension is a leading cause of stroke.

A 2016 UK study found that blood pressure was elevated in 75% or more of patients with acute stroke.

In the new study, 71 participants with heart disease risk factors cycled diets low, moderate or high in herbs and spices, which a two-week gap in between each.

Blood samples were taken before and after each, as well at the onset of the study.

All the food were typical of the average US diet but included 0.5, 3.2 or 6.5 of herbs and spices each day.

The blend of 24 herbs and spices was designed to simulate how people typically cook with them.

Systolic blood pressure – the force the heart exerts on the walls of your arteries each time it beats – was lower after the high but not the medium dose.

Diastolic blood pressure – the power in between beats – also dropped compared to the low dose.

Prof Kris-Etherton said: “I think it is really significant participants consumed an average American diet throughout the study and we still found these results.

“We didn’t decrease salt, 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?”

 

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