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Drinking Beetroot Juice May Reduce High Blood Pressure

Beetroot JuicePrevious studies have linked eating plenty of vegetables with reduced blood pressure. Now a new study conducted at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in the United Kingdom and published in the journal Hypertension concludes that drinking one glass of beetroot juice a day can significantly reduce blood pressure in patients with high blood pressure.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) or above most of the time. (The first number measures systolic pressure, or when the heart is pushing, and the second number measures diastolic pressure, or when the heart is relaxing.) High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, and other health problems.

Using a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in dozens of patients, researchers randomly assigned 68 patients with hypertension to receive daily dietary supplementation for four weeks with either daily beetroot juice or a placebo. Along with other leafy vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage, beetroot contains high levels of inorganic nitrate. Inorganic nitrate converts to nitric oxide, which relaxes and dilates blood vessels.

Of the total participants, half were taking high blood pressure medication but were not reaching their blood pressure goals, and the other half had been diagnosed with hypertension but were not yet taking medication for the condition. The participants in the beetroot juice group received 250 milliliters, or approximately 8.5 ounces, of the juice daily.

The researchers monitored the participants for two weeks before and after the study in addition to the four trial weeks, bringing the study to a total of eight.

During the course of the study, participants in the beetroot juice group experienced a reduction in blood pressure of 8/4 mmHg. For many participants, the reduction brought their blood pressure back into the normal range.

Furthermore, when participants in the beetroot group stopped drinking the juice during the last two weeks of the study, their blood pressure returned to previous high levels.

The present study is the first to show evidence of a long-lasting reduction in blood pressure due to dietary nitrate supplementation in a group of patients with high blood pressure.

Comments senior research advisor Dr. Shannon Amoils:

“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 participants in the beetroot juice group also experienced a 20 percent or so improvement in blood vessel dilation capacity and a 10 percent reduction in artery stiffness. Previous research has linked such changes to a reduced risk of heart disease.

Remarks lead author Professor Amrita Ahluwalia:

“Diseases of the heart and blood vessels — which can cause heart attacks and strokes — remain the biggest cause of death worldwide. However, unlike some other serious illnesses, we are fortunate in that we can make certain lifestyle changes which dramatically improve our heart and blood vessel health. 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.”

The placebo group did not experience any changes in blood pressure, blood vessel function, or artery stiffness during the study time period.

Concludes Professor Ahluwalia:

“These findings are exciting because we’ve now tested the effectiveness of dietary nitrate in reducing blood pressure in 64 patients, over a sustained period of time, and found it works. Plus it’s so easy for patients to work this into their daily lives and see a positive benefit. The next step will hopefully be to run a large-scale Phase Three clinical trial so we can determine whether the impact of dietary nitrate is sustained long-term, and whether this should be recommended in NHS guidelines.

“It is hugely beneficial for people to be able to take steps in controlling their blood pressure through non-clinical means such as eating vegetables. We know many people don’t like taking drugs life-long when they feel ok, and because of this, medication compliance is a big issue.”

The results of the present study may aid in the development of natural products and dietary options to help treat high blood pressure. States Dr. Amoils, “The possibility of using a natural product, rather than another pill, to help lower blood pressure, is very appealing.”

Adds Professor Ahluwalia:

“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.”

The next step in researching the effects of inorganic nitrate on high blood pressure is to perform a larger study that tries to replicate the findings over a longer period with a much larger group of people with high blood pressure.

References

Daily Beetroot Juice Lowers Blood Pressure, Scientists Find: http://www.qmul.ac.uk/media/news/items/smd/146262.html
Dietary Nitrate Provides Sustained Blood Pressure Lowering in Hypertensive Patients: A Randomized, Phase 2, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study: http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/65/2/320.abstract
Drinking Beetroot Juice Reduces High Blood Pressure, Trial Shows: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288229.php
What Is High Blood Pressure?: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp

Image Credits

Beetroot Juice: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1266534

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