How to live longer: The veg that can lower blood pressure and slash heart attack risk

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Heart attack is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. However, studies have found that managing high blood pressure and high cholesterol by just a small amount could cut the risk of an event by 80 percent. While a number of drugs are prescribed to aid in the reduction of both conditions, many are deterred from taking them due to undesirable side effects. One vegetable, however, could be key to keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check.

High blood pressure and high cholesterol often go undetected until life-threatening conditions are already in full swing. A heart-healthy diet is therefore crucial to warding off both conditions.

Bell peppers contain compounds known as capsaicinoids, which may offer a litany of heart-related benefits that could help manage both conditions.

A study probing the effect of capsaicinoid on poor cholesterol profiles, found that it significantly improved LDL cholesterol levels.

It has also been shown that the compound may be key to lowering blood pressure, as well as blood vessel function.

READ MORE: Stroke: The modifiable lifestyle factor raising your risk by 90% – new study

Research has found that the high vitamin C content of bell peppers can rid the vessels of excess fluid, which could help reduce pressure inside the vessels.

The cholesterol-lowering soluble fibre in bell peppers acts as a powerful antioxidant, with vitamin A and C shown to have strongest antioxidant effects.

This abundance of vitamin C could help lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

Lori Zanini, certified diabetes educator, said: “One medium pepper actually contains more vitamin C than an orange, and the vegetable is extremely versatile.”

Another component of peppers that could have protective effects on the heart is lycopene – which is particularly high in red peppers.

According to the Journal of Food Science, red peppers contain the highest amounts of beta-carotenes, quercetin and luteolin.

Luteolin has been found to neutralise free radicals and reduce inflammation, one of the key markers of disease.

Furthermore, bell peppers contain an anticoagulant that may help prevent the blood clots responsible for heart attacks.

Around 15 million Britons are believed to have raised blood pressure, while eight million have high cholesterol levels.

Research led by the University of Cambridge found that reducing high blood pressure and high cholesterol could lower the odds of having a heart attack by two thirds.

The 2019 study, which included nearly 44,000 Britons, showed that the chance of having a heart attack or stroke fell by four fifths when people lowered their levels of LDL cholesterol by 1mmol/L and reduced their blood pressure by 10mmHg.

Co-author of the study, professor Marc Sabatine, of Harvard Medical School, said: “Until now we have been underestimating the benefit of treating these risk factors.

“We are not treating many patients until they have had a heart attack or stroke – that is completely backwards.

“If you wait ten years, the plaques build up and it is harder to reverse the damage.”

The British Heart Foundation’s medical director Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, commented: “This research again demonstrates that high blood pressure and raised cholesterol are key risk factors for heart attacks and stroke.

“Hopefully the findings reported that the risk could be reduced by as much as 80 percent can act as a motivator for long-term change.”

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