High blood pressure is a major risk factor for the development of heart disease—particularly heart attack and stroke—nd is a sign of an underlying process known as silent inflammation, as I talk about on my new PBS show and book of the same name, Heart of Perfect Health. About 25 percent of the adult population has high blood pressure. Have you checked your blood pressure lately? If not, please do. They best way to check it is to get a blood pressure cuff and measure it throughout the day.

A recent study published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases on the effects of the Mediterranean diet investigated the effect of gazpacho consumption in 3,995 individuals with high cardiovascular risk. They found that gazpacho consumption reduced blood pressure. “Previous clinical and epidemiological studies associate the consumption of gazpacho’s main ingredients (tomato, cucumber, garlic, olive oil, etc.) with an arterial [blood] pressure reduction,” stated Alexander Medina-Remon, an author of the study. “This new scientific study 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 [high blood pressure].”

The findings were somewhat surprising, since gazpacho contains salt, which is known to raise blood pressure. “Gazpacho 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 [blood] pressure prevails over salt’s effect.”

The risk of high blood pressure was reduced by up to 27% in some people. Future research will evaluate just how gazpacho affects blood pressure. In the meantime, find a good gazpacho recipe and get cooking for healthy blood pressure and a healthy heart.