Researchers Discover Secret of Mediterranean Diet: Make Nitro Fatty Acids Part of Your Office Meals!

Posted by on Friday, May 30th, 2014 with 4 Comments

Followers of food news and health-conscious diners who are looking for healthier office meals have heard it all before: the Mediterranean diet is almost too good to be true. Research has suggested that following a Mediterranean-style diet can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, improve memory, and even prevent depression. That’s why Mediterranean-inspired office meals are one of the healthiest cuisines that wellness-focused workplaces can serve.

olive oil cruet

The secret to olive oil’s heart-healthiness lies, naturally, in eating your vegetables.
Image source: Flickr user netsnake

And by and large, it makes sense. The diet is rich in vegetables, legumes, fruits, and fish, and low in red meat and processed carbohydrates. One question that has plagued researchers may finally have its answer, though. The Mediterranean diet isn’t necessarily low-fat — olive oil and nuts are staples — yet following it seems to prevent heart disease and lower blood pressure. How is that possible?

The answer, as always, is to eat your vegetables. A new study on the Mediterranean diet in mice, published May 19th in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has found that it’s the combination of certain vegetables and olive oil that’s responsible for the Mediterranean diet’s heart-healthiness.

It works like this: pairing olive oil with some vegetables leads to a reaction between the unsaturated fats in the olive oil and certain nitrites and nitrates found in many vegetables, including spinach, celery, and carrots. The fats and the nitrites/nitrates combine to create awesomely-named compounds: “nitro fatty acids”. Nitro fatty acids, in turn, seem to improve heart health by relaxing our blood vessels and lowering blood pressure.

The researchers determined this by selectively feeding mice with high blood pressure a diet with lots of the unsaturated fats and nitrogen compounds found in olive oil and veggies. After five days, the mice had lower blood pressure — except for a small group that had been specifically bred to be resistant to nitro fatty acids. Of course, further research is needed to see if the same results appear in humans, but it’s a really promising — and sensible — explanation for why a relatively high-fat diet like the Mediterranean can lead to better heart health.

So how can you make this equation work to unleash the power of nitro fatty acids during your office meals? Luckily, we have a few suggestions!

1) Swap your salad dressing. Instead of ranch or bleu cheese atop your spinach salad, go for a balsamic vinaigrette made with olive oil for your nitro fatty acid fix!

spinach salad with berries and nuts

A spinach salad with an olive oil-based dressing and a sprinkling of nuts is a sure path to nitro fatty acid formation.
Image source: Flickr user atl10trader

2) When you order a deli sandwich, skip the honey mustard in favor of oil and vinegar, and add spinach instead of lettuce for a nutrient boost.

3) Choose heart-healthy snacks. Find hummus made with olive oil instead of the less-healthy canola oil, and serve it with baby carrots and celery.

4) Since avocados have the same unsaturated fats as olive oil, the study’s authors suggest they will have the same effect in olive oil’s place. At your next meeting, serve guacamole and radish slices for a crisp and refreshing alternative to chips and dip.

5) The same rule goes for nuts, so go nuts! Add them to your spinach salad for a heart-healthy crunch.

spinach pesto pasta

A spinach pesto pasta is a very heart-healthy lunch.
Image source: Flickr user Sharon

6) Have a pasta makeover. Next time you order Italian take-out or have a catered meal, choose a pasta with sautéed veggies and pesto (usually made with olive oil AND nuts) instead of a creamy tomato sauce.

Serving Mediterranean-inspired office meals is a no-brainer: healthier employees are happier and more productive. And with plentiful menus and prompt delivery, makes it as easy to provide delicious, wholesome, nitro fatty acid-powered meals to your team!

When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

4 responses to “Researchers Discover Secret of Mediterranean Diet: Make Nitro Fatty Acids Part of Your Office Meals!”

  1. Maggie says:

    Wow, this article made my mouth water! The spinach pesto picture there at the end looks really delicious – I would throw some roasted pine nuts on there…. anyway!

    Can you imagine the strives that could be made at the workplace if everyone enjoyed a Mediterranean-style meal at lunch instead of fatty food that weigh us down and make us tired? Maybe if employer’s sponsored meals and made them healthy and fulfilling this the above suggestions, then productivity would go up, and with that, profit would rise too.

    • Sara says:

      Thanks Maggie – and agreed, if employers helped coordinate healthy office lunches instead of greasy takeout, it would definitely help with the energy levels in the office. Also, pine nuts are delicious on almost everything!!

  2. Howard says:

    Wow this is some great insight. I will have to keep nitro fatty acid into consideration when I plan healthy meals. I like the spinach pesto pasta idea and I might have to build upon that. I am guilty of putting ranch on my salad but I will have to take your advice and swap to balsamic vinaigrette. What is interesting is that a lot of people are unaware of these important health benefits, and if only we could spread the word more.

    • Sara says:

      Thanks Howard! It’s true – balsamic vinaigrette is a healthier choice than ranch, but even so, everything’s perfectly fine in moderation 🙂