Trying to lower your blood pressure?
A new study suggests drinking a cup of beetroot juice every day could help hypertension, according to Medical News Today.
The study, researched at Queen Mary, University of London, is published in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension.
Scientists saw that rats who consumed nitrates – found in vegetables like beetroot, lettuce, cabbage and fennel - had lower blood pressure, so they followed up with a small study involving 15 patients who had high blood pressure.
“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,” Amrita Ahluwalia, lead author of the study and professor of vascular pharmacology at The Barts and The London Medical School in London, reported to Medical Xpress.
The patients were free of any other medical problems, but they had a systolic blood pressure between 140 and 159 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). They did not take medication for the hypertension.
They were asked to drink approximately 8 fluid ounces of beetroot juice or water that had a low amount of nitrate. During the following 24-hour period, the subjects’ blood pressure was observed.
The beetroot juice contained about 0.2 grams of dietary nitrate, equal to a large bowl of lettuce or two beetroots, the researchers said. When the nitrate is converted to nitric oxide, the gas has a relaxing effect on blood vessels, which can lower blood pressure.
The subjects saw an average 10-point decrease in blood pressure levels over the 24-hour period, researchers noted.
Ahluwalia said she was surprised “how little nitrate was needed to see such a large effect.”
Professor Peter Weissburg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, which funded Ahluwalia’s research, said it was a promising study, but larger studies needed to be researched to see if nitrate-rich vegetables could effectively lower blood pressure over a long-term period.