Do the findings apply to everyone?

John P. Higgins, MD, a sports cardiologist at McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), also spoke with MNT about this study. Like Chen, he was not involved in this research.

“This study adds to the data that lowering blood pressure and preventing development of permanent high blood pressure is possible with a healthy diet,” commented Higgins. “In this case, the Mediterranean diet can reduce your risk of developing blood pressure.”

Like Chen, Higgins said that the study “needs to be reproduced in different populations” to ensure that the results are not only applicable to the Greek population.

The doctor also pointed out that some elements of the diet “improve vascular function – specifically, they boost production of nitric oxide (NO) from the blood vessel wall, which in turn results in vasodilation [the expansion of blood vessels].”

Some foods Higgins highlighted as heart-healthy include bananas, strawberries, and foods higher in polyphenols, such as dark chocolate, tea, and coffee.

Higgins also recommended that people concerned about heart health use a salt substitute when cooking.

“Switch out table salt or cooking salt (NaCl) with a salt substitute like Morton Salt Substitute (potassium chloride salt substitutes) — this not only has no sodium but also has potassium that can actually lower blood pressure,” he said.