Specific research has shown that the Mediterranean diet is inversely related to your diastolic and systolic blood pressure. That means you can keep your blood pressure within normal limits — and, therefore, lower your risk for stroke — by following classic Mediterranean habits like the following:


Make olive oil one of your primary fat sources in lieu of butter or other saturated fats.

In fact, consuming olive oil every day (3 to 4 tablespoons) has been correlated with a 50 percent decrease in the need for blood pressure medications. The magic ingredient may be polyphenols, which are antioxidants that help the lining of blood vessels relax, effectively lowering blood pressure.


Consume minimally processed, real foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Because the Mediterranean people stick to foods that are grown locally, they get more of the good stuff such as antioxidants, fiber, and potassium without additives that contain sodium, which facilitates increases in blood pressure.

Potassium is a major mineral in the body that helps regulate muscle contraction and normal heart functioning. Mediterranean favorites containing plenty of potassium include mandarin oranges, avocados, sweet potatoes, white beans, and fish, like salmon.


Be active.

Although not exactly diet-related, the Mediterranean people get their fill of physical activity. Biking and walking are more ingrained in their culture than mass-transit. The American Heart Association recommends getting about 30 minutes per day of activity to keep the heart strong and pumping blood efficiently.

If you don’t exercise regularly, take it slow. You don’t need to vigorously workout to benefit from what activity has to offer. Start by going for walks around the neighborhood or taking a fun exercise class to keep it interesting so that you’ll stay engaged!