NMU – 186 Beetroot Juice Lowers Blood Pressure in High Blood Pressure Patients
Lifestyle Medicine Update No 186 (Dec 16, 2020)
With Dr. James Meschino
Topic: Beetroot Juice Lowers Blood Pressure in High Blood Pressure Patients
Source: Journal of Nutrition (2013 Meta-analysis)
There are a significant number of individuals who have high blood pressure, where blood pressure medication alone does not reduce their blood pressure all the way down into the ideal and safe range. This, of course, makes them more vulnerable to having a stroke or heart attack and/or a decline in kidney function. There are also a large number of individuals who have a blood pressure reading that is right at the upper limit of normal or who have pre-hypertension (for example 130/80), whereby a reduction of 8-10 points of systolic pressure and 4-6 points of diastolic pressure would be most beneficial, bringing their blood pressure down to 120 over 72, as an example (which is much more ideal and much safer). So, it may interest you to know that in a review of all the available studies published on the consumption of beetroot juice the researchers concluded that one 8 oz glass of beetroot juice a day is enough to significantly lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. How is this possible? Well, beetroot juice is a rich source of inorganic nitrate, which the body uses to dilate, or open-up blood vessels, which in turn lowers blood pressure.
In fact, in one major study conducted at Queen Mary University in London, England, and published in the journal Hypertension, researchers recruited 64 people ages 18-85, whereby half of the participants were taking prescribed medication for high blood pressure but did not reach their target blood pressure, and the rest had been diagnosed with high blood pressure but were not yet taking medication for it. On a random, double-blind basis, half of the participants ingested 8 oz (250 ml) per day of beetroot juice for four weeks, and the other half ingested beetroot juice that had the nitrates removed. During the study period, the patients drinking the real beetroot juice had a drop in blood pressure of 8mmHg systolic and 4mmHg diastolic. In the two weeks after the study concluded, when no beetroot juice was being consumed, their blood pressure shot right back up to previous levels. The placebo group experienced no drop in blood pressure during or after the study. What is noteworthy is that the drop in blood pressure facilitated by beetroot juice is comparable to the drop in blood pressure from many high blood pressure drugs, whereby a single blood pressure-lowering drug reduces blood pressure by 9mmHg systolic and 5mmHg diastolic, on average. The researchers conclude, “These findings suggest a role for dietary nitrate as an affordable, readily available adjunctive treatment in the management of patients with hypertension (high blood pressure).”
The researchers remind us that for every 2-point increase in blood pressure, the risk of heart disease increases by 7%, and the risk of stroke increases by 10%. So, an 8-point drop in systolic pressure and a 4-point drop in diastolic pressure, available from beetroot juice consumption, is highly meaningful if your blood pressure is above 125 over 75. Ideal blood pressure a blood pressure at or below 120 over 70. The dilation of blood vessels from the consumption of beetroot juice may also improve other conditions such as erectile dysfunction and poor circulation to the hands and feet. So, if your blood pressure is above 125/75, whether you are on blood pressure medication or not, it may be wise to consume an 8-oz serving of beetroot juice daily to help further reduce your pressure towards the more ideal range.
I have included the reference for this study in the text below.
Siervo M et al. Inorganic nitrate and beetroot juice supplementation reduces blood pressure in adults: A systematic review and Meta-analysis. The Journal of Nutrition 2012, 143;6:818-826. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/143/6/818/4571708
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