Dec. 14, 2012 -- Drinking a glass of beet juice may have an immediate impact on lowering blood pressure, according to a new study.
The study shows that within hours of drinking it, beet juice lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) by an average of 4-5 points among a small group of healthy men.
Researchers say that drop may seem small, but on a public health level a reduction like that would equate to a 10% reduction in deaths due to heart disease.
“It’s promising that we can see an effect from a single dose,” says researcher Leah Coles, PhD, a research fellow at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia. “That effect might be even greater over the long term if they are drinking it day upon day.”
Previous studies have shown that beet juice, also known as beetroot juice, can lower blood pressure in a laboratory setting. But researchers say this is the first study to look at the effects of adding beet juice to a heathy person’s diet without making any other diet or lifestyle changes.
In the study, 15 men and 15 women drank either 17.6 ounces of a beet juice beverage consisting of about three-fourths beet juice and one-fourth apple juice, or a placebo juice. They were then monitored for 24 hours. The same procedure was repeated two weeks later, with those who drank the placebo on the first round receiving beetroot juice on the second.
Among both men and women, the results showed a trend to lower systolic blood pressure six hours after drinking the beet juice.
But when researchers limited their analysis to men only, they found a significant reduction of about 4.7 points among those who drank the beetroot juice.
Previous studies have also suggested that beetroot’s blood-pressure-lowering effects may not be as strong in women.
In this case, Coles says it may be partially explained by the fact that the women in the study tended to be older, and many were on prescription medications, such as oral contraceptives.