It’s well-known that practising mindfulness helps people focus on the present as well as their emotions, thoughts, bodily sensations and breath. Now, a new study shows that practising mindfulness focused on healthy eating can also be good for the heart.
High blood pressure, is a major cause of cardiovascular issues, leading to an estimated 10.8 million avoidable deaths every year, according to World Health Organisation. The new study, published in Brown University, focuses on how mindfulness is linked to keeping the heart healthy.
It showed that when people with elevated blood pressure participated in an eight-week mindfulness-based blood pressure reduction program, their scores on measures of self-awareness and adherence to a heart-healthy diet significantly improved, the university’s press statement explained. The findings were published in JAMA Network Open.
The mindfulness-based blood pressure reduction program used in the study teaches skills such as meditation, yoga, self-awareness, attention control, and emotion regulation. The program also teaches how to use the skills towards behaviours that lower blood pressure, the statement elaborated. The researchers focused on the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) program, a balanced eating plan rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy, intended to create a heart-healthy eating style for life.
"Participants in the program showed significant improvement in adherence to a heart-healthy diet, which is one of the biggest drivers of blood pressure, as well as significant improvements in self-awareness, which appears to influence healthy eating habits," said lead study author Eric B Loucks in the statement. He added that the study explained how a customised mindfulness training program focused on improving diet can affect blood pressure.
The program provides participants the tools to make heart-healthy diet changes that can lower their blood pressure and decrease their risk of cardiovascular disease, Loucks added.
Previous studies have also focused on the impact of healthy eating on blood pressure and showed links between the two. For instance, in 2021, a study, published by the American Heart Association, showed that a healthy eating plan, weight loss and improved aerobic fitness can significantly reduce blood pressure and improve heart health in people with resistant hypertension, Science Daily reported.