Drinking Daily Beetroot Juice Lowers High Blood Pressure, UK Scientists Find
Drinking one cup of beetroot juice each day can lower your blood pressure, UK scientists have found. Scientists at Queen Mary University have conducted research which proves drinking a daily cup of beetroot juice can significantly lower blood pressure among people with high blood pressure and hypertension.
Scientists at the London university conducted research with patients that had high blood pressure, which involved them drinking a 250ml glass of beetroot juice each day. The scientists found the patients experienced an average decrease in blood pressure of about 8/4 mmHg, which, for many, brought their blood pressure levels back into the “normal” range.
Queen Mary University said this because beetroot contains high levels of the substance “inorganic nitrate.” Other leafy green vegetables, such as lettuce and cabbage, also contain the substance.
The potential importance of the findings is “substantial” as large-scale observational studies suggest each 2mmHg increase in blood pressure also increases the likelihood of death from heart disease by 7% and stroke by 10%.
The university also said this is the “first evidence of a long-lasting blood pressure reduction with dietary nitrate supplementation in a relevant patient group.” The average reduction in blood pressure through a single anti-hypertensive drug is 9/5 mmHg. These findings therefore suggest a role for dietary nitrate as an “effective, easy and affordable treatment” in managing blood pressure with similar results to drug treatment.
Professor Amrita Ahluwalia, lead author, Queen Mary University of London, said: “Diseases of the heart and blood vessels – which can cause heart attacks and strokes – remain the biggest cause of death worldwide. However, unlike some other serious illnesses, we are fortunate in that we can make certain lifestyle changes which dramatically improve our heart and blood vessel health. This research has proven that a daily inorganic nitrate dose can be as effective as medical intervention in reducing blood pressure and the best part is we can get it from beetroot and other leafy green vegetables.
“These findings are exciting because we’ve now tested the effectiveness of dietary nitrate in reducing blood pressure in 64 patients, over a sustained period of time, and found it works. Plus it’s so easy for patients to work this into their daily lives and see a positive benefit,” Ahluwalia added.
Dr Shannon Amoils, senior research advisor at the British Heart Foundation, which funded the study, said: “This interesting study builds on previous research by this team and finds that a daily glass of beetroot juice can lower blood pressure in people with hypertension – even those whose high blood pressure was not controlled by drug treatment.
“The trial is small however, and the next step will be to see if this result can be repeated in a much larger group of people with high blood pressure and over a longer period of time.”
Clinical Blood Pressure Study
The double-blind phase two clinical trial, published in the journal Hypertension and funded by the British Heart Foundation, was carried out among 64 patients aged 18 to 85 years. Half of the patients were taking prescribed anti-hypertensive drugs, but were failing to reach their target blood pressure. The other half had been identified as having high blood pressure but not yet on medication.
Patients were randomly assigned a daily dietary supplementation for four weeks. Half received the dietary nitrate (250ml beetroot juice) and the other half received a placebo (250ml nitrate-free beetroot juice). In addition, patients were monitored for two weeks both before and after the study, bringing the total study period to eight weeks.
During the study, patients in the intervention group also experienced an improvement of around 20% in blood vessel dilation capacity and around a 10% reduction in arterial stiffness. Queen Mary University said these changes in blood vessel function have been shown, by other studies, to be associated with substantial reductions in heart disease. There were also no adverse side effects from the daily dietary nitrate.
In the two weeks after the study period, the blood pressure readings among patients in the intervention group returned to their previous high levels. There were no changes to blood pressure, blood vessel function or arterial stiffness among the placebo group during the study.
Ahluwalia said the next step is to run a large-scale phase three clinical trial. This will help determine whether the impact of dietary nitrate can be sustained long-term and whether this should be recommended in NHS guidelines.