Beet Juice Lowers High Blood Pressure
Amrita Ahluwalia, PhD, of Queen Mary University of London, and colleagues report that drinking a single cup of beetroot juice significantly lowered the systolic blood pressure (BP) of patients with high blood pressure (hypertension). This effect was observed 3-6 hours they took 250 mL of juice, with their systolic BP decreasing by a mean 11 mm Hg compared to a decrease of 0.7 mm Hg in controls (hypertensive participants who did not take juice). The effect remained even at 24 hours, according to the researchers who reported their results in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.
Previous studies have suggested that the health benefits of beetroot juice, as well as other fruits and vegetables, come from the inorganic nitrates (NO3) they contain. Upon consumption, nitrate is converted to inorganic nitrite (NO2), reduced to nitric oxide (NO) through various pathways, which results in widening of blood vessels (vasodilation). However, experiments have not identified the specific enzymatic process nor the site of action involved.
The study involved 15 participants with a mean age of 53 years, whose BPs were above 140/90 and had not previously received antihypertensive treatment. They were randomly assigned to receive either a relatively low (13.2 × 10−3 mol/L) dose of nitrite in beetroot juice or the same amount of water with nitrite levels of 0.07 × 10−3 mol/L. The researchers note that beetroot juice has no effect on the blood pressure of healthy individuals.
The investigators found significant decreases in both systolic and diastolic BPs in participants who received beetroot juice compared with controls. They added that circulating levels of nitrate and nitrite returned to normal 24 hours after intake of the juice, but BP reductions persisted. Furthermore, the volunteers tolerated the treatment well.
Walsh, N. Beet Juice Beats Hypertension. MedPage Today.