Beet Juice Lowers Blood Pressure
WebMD News Archive
Nitrates Behind Blood Pressure Effect
Experts say it’s the high concentration of nitrates in beets that are responsible for the benefits.
In a lengthy biological process, nitrates from dietary sources like beets and leafy green vegetables are converted to nitric oxide within the body. The nitric oxide then relaxes blood vessels and dilates them, which helps the blood flow more easily and lowers blood pressure.
“Whether from foods or from juice, you are seeing a consistent effect of nitrates in lowering blood pressure,” says registered dietitian Norman Hord, PhD, MPH, an associate professor at College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore. “It’s probably the most potent blood-pressure-lowering component of the diet.”
Hord says previous studies have found more impressive reductions in blood pressure of up to 10 points when researchers measured blood pressure within three hours of drinking beet juice.
Although more research is needed to better understand the long-term effects of nitrates on blood pressure, Hord says eating a diet rich in nitrates, from natural sources like beets and leafy green vegetables, is good advice.
It’s an approach to eating that’s similar to the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which has been proven to lower blood pressure. The DASH diet emphasizes eating more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods along with whole grains, fish, poultry, and nuts while limiting saturated fat and cholesterol.
“These food patterns have been shown to lower blood pressure,” Hord says. “Research now shows nitrates are probably responsible for at least part of that effect.”