Drinking a cup of beetroot juice each day could significantly lower the blood pressure of people with high blood pressure, according to research we funded at Queen Mary University of London.
High blood pressure patients who drank 250ml of beetroot juice a day were found to have blood pressure levels back in the 'normal' range by the end of the study. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease, which can cause heart attacks or strokes. The effect is caused by the high levels of a type of chemical called nitrates, which is found in high quantities in beetroot, and other leafy green vegetables like kale and cabbage.
The first evidence
This study, involving 64 volunteers, provides the first evidence of a long-lasting reduction in blood pressure by supplementing the diet with nitrates in patients with high blood pressure. The level of reduction was similar to that from some forms of blood pressure medication. No adverse side effects were observed in people taking the daily dose of nitrates, in the form of beetroot juice.
The results suggest that supplementing the levels of nitrate in the diet can be simple and effective way to manage high blood pressure. But a study on many more patients is needed before this approach can become a recommended treatment for high blood pressure.
Getting the most from your veg
Professor Amrita Ahluwalia, who led the research, said:
“This research has proven that a daily inorganic nitrate dose can be as effective as medical intervention in reducing blood pressure and the best part is we can get it from beetroot and other leafy green vegetables.”
“For those looking to work dietary nitrate into their daily diets, the trick is not to boil the vegetables – as dietary nitrate is water soluble – but steaming, roasting or drinking in a juice all has a positive effect.”
Dr Shannon Amoils, Senior Research Advisor at the British Heart Foundation, which funded the study, said:
The possibility of using a natural product, rather than another pill, to help lower blood pressure, is very appealing
Dr Shannon Amoils
Senior Research Advisor at BHF
This interesting study builds on previous research by this team and finds that a daily glass of beetroot juice can lower blood pressure in people with hypertension – even those whose high blood pressure was not controlled by drug treatment.
The possibility of using a natural product, rather than another pill, to help lower blood pressure, is very appealing. The trial is, however small, and the next step will be to see if this result can be repeated in a much larger group of people with high blood pressure and over a longer period of time.
The findings were published in the research journal Hypertension.