A cup of beet juice a day, or a generous helping of green vegetables, may help lower blood pressure, a new British study finds.
The findings come from a small study of 15 men and women with high blood pressure, published in the journal Hypertension on April 15.
Researchers from Queen Mary University of London, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry found that people who drank 250 mL of nitrate-rich beet juice a day experienced blood pressure reductions of around 10 mm Hg. The reduction was highest around three to six hours after imbibing the beet juice, but the effect lasted 24 hours later.
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While beets contain heart-healthy compounds like vitamins C and K, fiber and polyphenols, scientists say it's the high nitrate content that's likely responsible for the ability to reduce blood pressure.
Other nitrate-rich vegetables include lettuce, cabbage, and fennel, which researchers say are likely to have the same effect.
"I don't think anybody would have liked it if we'd juiced lettuce leaves and cabbage," lead researcher Amrita Ahluwalia told WebMD. "Beetroot isn't unique in being able to alter the cardiovascular system. Rocket [arugula] has a very high inorganic nitrate content; fennel has a high inorganic content."
In prior research, scientists from Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, found that within hours of drinking beet juice, a group of healthy men saw their blood pressure drop by an average of four to five points. The study was published in December in Nutrition Journal.