If you suffer from hypertension, drinking a cup of beetroot juice a day could be effective at lowering your blood pressure according to a new study.
Beetroot is rich in nitrate
Researchers from Queen Mary, University of London found that a 250ml glass of beetroot juice lowers blood pressure levels by an average of ten points, with the positive effect lasting for 24 hours.
Beetroot is rich in nitrate, a chemical which is found naturally in the soil. When nitrate is converted to a gas called nitric oxide is has a relaxing effect on blood vessels, which could potentially lower blood pressure.
Many people with angina use a nitrate drug to ease their symptoms, but scientists hope that nitrate rich vegetables could offer the same benefits. Lead author Amrita Ahluwalia said:
"Our hope is that increasing one's intake of vegetables with a high dietary nitrate content, such as green leafy vegetables or beetroot, might be a lifestyle approach that one could easily employ to improve cardiovascular health."
In order to test the effect that beetroot has on patients with hypertension, researchers looked at eight females and seven males who all had a systolic blood pressure of between 140 and 159 millimetres of mercury.
The participants were given 250ml of beetroot juice containing around 0.2g of nitrate, and observed for 24 hours.
Writing in the journal Hypertension, the researchers found that consuming 250ml of beetroot juice provided an average ten point decrease in blood pressure levels. The effects lasted for 24 hours. Ahluwalia said:
"We were surprised by how little nitrate was needed to see such a large effect.”
Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, Professor Peter Weissberg, said: “It supports current advice that we should all be eating plenty of green veg.
“But we need larger studies in patients to determine if nitrate-rich vegetables are effective at lowering blood pressure over the long term."
The researchers also warned that drinking beetroot juice can turn your urine pink.
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© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2013