Beetroot Juice May Help Lower Blood Pressure

For the more than 77 million Americans who grapple with high blood pressure, one strategy may be as simple as pouring a glass of beetroot juice.

It’s not the typical kind of juice found in kitchens nationwide. But people who have high blood pressure were able to lower their number about 10 mm Hg by drinking beetroot juice, according to a study published  in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.

To achieve that effect, they drank about eight ounces of beetroot juice.

Although the preliminary results are newsworthy, researchers said it’s too soon to suggest people start supplementing their diet with beetroot juice.

“Our hope is that increasing one’s intake of vegetables with a high dietary nitrate content, such as green leafy vegetables or beetroot, might be a lifestyle approach that one could easily employ to improve cardiovascular health,” said Amrita Ahluwalia, lead author of the study, in a news release from the American Heart Association.

For the small study, eight women and seven men drank about 8.5 ounces of beetroot juice containing about 0.2 grams of dietary nitrate. That’s about the amount of nitrate contained in a large bowl of lettuce or roughly two beetroots. Dietary nitrate eventually converts to nitric oxide, which expands the blood vessels and helps blood flow, according to the news release.

“We were surprised by how little nitrate was needed to see such a large effect,” Ahluwalia said. “This study shows that compared to individuals with healthy blood pressure much less nitrate is needed to produce the kinds of decreases in blood pressure that might provide clinical benefits in people who need to lower their blood pressure. However, we are still uncertain as to whether this effect is maintained in the long term.”

After drinking the beetroot juice, its effects were “most pronounced three to six hours” later, the release states, but continued to lower blood pressure for 24 hours.

The AHA recommends eating eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Federal nutrition guidelines suggest making half of every plate at mealtime filled with fruits and vegetables.

Source: American Heart Association

+ Stay healthy by following screening guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

+ Learn about state-of-the-art interventional services offered by the Bon Secours Heart and Vascular Institute.

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