Beetroot Juice Lowers High Blood Pressure

by Leigh on January 15, 2015

beet juice blood pressureFew things beat beets for lowering high blood pressure, at least according to the results of a randomized phase 2 trial funded by the British Heart Foundation and published in the journal Hypertension.

A 250 ml glass of beetroot juice taken daily led to significant reductions in blood pressure compared to placebo in patients with hypertension, suggesting that beets, like flaxseed, could offer an inexpensive, natural, low-risk treatment for high blood pressure.

The study was carried out by Dr. Vikas Kapil (Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, UK) and colleagues, who used a nitrate-depleted beetroot juice as the placebo, and a 250 ml dose of beetroot juice providing around 6.4 mmol of nitrates per day. All 64 volunteers involved in the study had high blood pressure as confirmed by ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM).

Beet Juice Significantly Reduced Blood Pressure

The people who drank the regular beetroot juice for 4 weeks had significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure as measured in the clinic, at home, or by ABPM. No changes in blood pressure, arterial stiffness or endothelial function were seen in the placebo group.

The mean reduction in systolic blood pressure as measured in the clinic was 7.7 mm Hg in the active treatment group, and the mean reduction in diastolic blood pressure was 2.4 mm Hg. Mean ABP reduction was 7.7 mm Hg and 5.2 mm Hg for systolic and diastolic respectively in the treatment group, and mean home blood pressure reductions at week 6 of the trial were 8.1 mm Hg and 3.8 mm Hg for diastolic and systolic.

Why Beets Help Lower Blood Pressure

The nitrates found in beets are thought to be behind the blood pressure-lowering benefits of these root vegetables. Nitrates are converted into nitrites, which act as vasodilators. The nitrate-rich beet juice led to a 5.5-fold increase in plasma nitrate levels, and plasma nitrite was increase by around 2.7-fold after ingestion of the beet juice.


Those drinking the beet juice had a significant decrease in the stiffness of arteries, and improved endothelial function. The endothelium is the lining of the blood vessels, and improved endothelial health and better arterial health mean that the body is better able to manage blood pressure. Those patients in the active treatment group had a 20% improvement in endothelial function by week 4 of the trial, compared to placebo.

Long Term Benefits of Beetroot for Blood Pressure Control

Importantly, the study found that the benefits of beets for reducing elevated blood pressure did not decline over time, meaning that the patients were not becoming accustomed to the effects and needing higher doses to achieve the same response. The effect of the beetroot juice was comparable to that of a single standard dose of hypertensive medication, meaning that the juice has clinically significant benefits.

Anyone considering using beet juice to help them control elevated blood pressure should discuss their plan with their physician as this may necessitate careful monitoring of blood pressure and an adjustment in medications. A sudden lowering of blood pressure may lead to dizziness and fainting.

Reference

Vikas Kapil, Rayomand S. Khambata, Amy Robertson, Mark J. Caulfield, and Amrita Ahluwalia, Dietary Nitrate Provides Sustained Blood Pressure Lowering in Hypertensive Patients: A Randomized, Phase 2, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study, Hypertension. 2015;65:320-327.

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