Relief for High Blood Pressure: Beetroot Juice & Green Leafy Vegetables

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

Researchers in England have found for the first time that a daily dose of beetroot juice can significantly reduce high blood pressure. Their striking results were presented in a 2015 article in the journal Hypertension. In the study, 68 hypertensive non-medicated patients (ages 18 to 85) were randomly divided to take either 250 ml (just over 8 oz.) daily of beetroot juice or a placebo (inert) drink over a 4-week period…

The researchers used three different measuring methods, including 24-hour ambulatory monitoring, which resulted in an impressive average reduction of 7.7 mm Hg systolic and 5.2 mm Hg diastolic.

The researchers also found that endothelial function among the beetroot drinkers improved by about 20 percent and arterial stiffness was reduced. There were no such changes among the placebo drinkers. “This is the first evidence of durable blood pressure reduction with dietary nitrate supplementation in a relevant patient group,” the researchers said, and suggests a role as an “affordable, readily-available, adjunctive treatment in the management” of hypertension.

 My Viewpoint: Beetroot is a source of dietary nitrate, previously found to reduce blood pressure in healthy individuals with normal blood pressure. Nitrates are broken down in the body and promote the production of nitric oxide (NO), a critical compound made in the inner surface of blood vessels (the endothelial lining). NO serves an important function in maintaining the proper dilation of blood vessels. A deficiency is associated with endothelial dysfunction and elevated blood pressure.

 What This Means to You: This is a significant finding because for each 2 mm Hg increase in blood pressure there is a 7 to 10 percent increase in mortality caused by cardiovascular disease. This research should spark interest for further investigation of dietary nitrates, also found abundantly in green leafy vegetables, as a natural aid in the fight against hypertension.

 Recommendation: If you have high blood pressure, check out drinking beetroot juice on a routine basis. It may also help reduce the risk of diabetes. Here, as well, is another good reason to make sure you eat or drink plenty of green leafy and root vegetables. However, be careful with consumption of green leafy veggies if you have a history of kidney stones.

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