We all know that fruits and particularly vegetables are healthy for us and aid in decreasing the risk of cardio vascular disease. It would be helpful to target specific vegetables for certain conditions. This small study has shown that drinking a small amount of beet juice lowers systolic blood pressure by a whopping 12 mm Hg! Beet Juice Has Nitrates
Researchers, Dr. Amrita Ahluwalia (Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, UK) and colleagues have been studying the interaction between dietary sources of biologically inert nitrate (NO3) and oral microflora, which converts the NO3 into bioactive nitrite (NO2).
It appears that this type of nitrite is safe and actually does something positive, as opposed to the carcinogenic nitrites that occur in the gut from eating preserved meats — although that has recently come into question.
Beetroot Used to Lower Systolic Blood Pressure
This study published in Hypertension in 2013 demonstrated that the high concentrations of nitrate in beetroot may be used to lower systolic blood pressure — and it doesn’t take much.
The 250 ml (8 ounces) of juice in the experiment contained about 0.2g of dietary nitrate, about the same as around two beetroots or a large bowl of lettuce.
In this study, after research on rats demonstrated that raising nitrate levels reduced blood pressure, 15 humans with high blood pressure drank 250 ml glasses of either nitrate-rich beetroot juice or an equal volume of water each day. The ones who had the beetroot juice experienced blood pressure reductions of around 10 – 12 mm Hg. That is significant even though the study is very small.
The reduction was highest around three to six hours after drinking the juice but still had an effect 24 hours later. The effects were more potent in people with hypertension than in normotensives.
Eating nitrate produces another chemical in the body called nitrite, and in turn, nitric oxide. Professor Ahluwalia said that nitric oxide,
… opens up blood vessels; allows blood to flow through the blood vessels more easily, which means the pressure, the resistance to flow in the body goes down. And that brings blood pressure down.
The researchers say other nitrate-rich vegetables including lettuce, cabbage and fennel are likely to have the same effect.
Read the Small Print
I got really excited about this study until I read the small print (it wasn’t really smaller but you know what I mean):
Professor Ahluwalia is also a director of Heartbeet Ltd, a company linked to commercial producers of beetroot juice.
Does that spoil it for me? Not really. I try to eat or drink beets daily. I love beet kvass, roasted beets, and beet salad. I also love fermented cabbage juice (for medicinal reasons) sauerkraut, and fennel. I think all these vegetables add to the anti-oxidant content of my diet whether they bring down blood pressure or not.