Japanese sunomono vinegar dish helps men over 40 maintain healthy blood pressure
OSAKA, Japan — New observational research from Japan sheds light on the virtues of vinegar. Scientists from Osaka University report that regular consumption of sunomono in older men (40 years and older) is correlated with low blood pressure. Sunomono is a Japanese side dish prepared with rice vinegar and sliced cucumber or seaweed.
Previous research tells us that people who drink 30ml of vinegar daily tend to have lower blood pressure levels. However, the individuals studied also lost noticeable weight, which may explain the aforementioned drop in blood pressure.
“The benefits of vinegar in a healthy diet are well known. Our research is the first observational study of these benefits; we didn’t ask anything of the participants,” says co-author Hiroaki Kanouchi in a statement.
The researchers say that studying sunomono provided a unique opportunity to complete an observational project assessing whether vinegar consumption (in the context of an otherwise normal diet) correlates with fluctuations in blood pressure. Sunomono is a very common food in Japan, usually eaten by older generations. Locally, Japanese supermarkets offer a wide variety of individually prepackaged sunomono portions. In other words, sunomono is a great source of food vinegar among the Japanese.
To study this topic, the researchers recruited 1,498 men and women over the age of 40 who had previously been screened for hypertension or other disqualifying health conditions. Of this larger group, 746 subjects underwent a blood pressure test and were categorized according to Japanese Society of Hypertension guidelines. These same participants then responded to a dietary survey with a strong focus on the consumption of acidic vinegary foods such as sunomono.
“Vinegar is hard to watch because it’s not a big ingredient in meals; you might have a little in the salad dressing or pickles, but people rarely drink the pickle brine. In sunomono, the vinegar is part of the dish, people usually finish it,” says Kanouchi.
As the researchers evaluated all the data collected, a pattern began to emerge. “Men who did not usually eat sunomono had significantly higher blood pressure, even though their weight and BMI were the same,” notes Professor Kanouchi. “We think it might support the growth of good gut microbiota, but we would need more studies to confirm this.”
Consuming sunomono at least once a month was found to be correlated with lower mean blood pressure in male subjects. This held true even after the study authors took into account a host of other factors, including BMI, age, smoking history, and sodium/potassium/alcohol consumption habits.
“We don’t know how vinegar causes these health benefits; increased vinegar consumption does not lead to further improvement in blood pressure. However, diet is one of the easiest things to change! I want everyone to know that even eating sunomono occasionally can make a difference in blood pressure,” Professor Kanouchi concludes.
The study is published in Heliyon.