Monday, January 26, 2015
They have found that consuming a glass of beetroot juice could significantly reduce blood pressure among hypertensive patients, even among those who were unresponsive to treatment with anti-hypertensives.
These results were published in the journal Hypertension. The researchers attribute this blood pressure lowering effect to the nitrate content in beetroot. Plants such as beetroot obtain inorganic nitrate from the soil, and once ingested, the nitrate gets converted to nitric oxide within the body. Nitric oxide helps in the relaxation and dilation of blood vessels.
The researchers recruited 64 patients between 18-85 years of age for a 4-week double blind study. Half the patients were hypertensive and were unable to reach the target blood pressure in spite of consuming medications for the same. The other half were diagnosed with high BP, but were not on any medication regime. The 64 patients were randomly assigned to 2 groups, one group consumed a glass (250 ml) of beetroot juice daily, while the other group (placebo group) consumed a glass of nitrate-free beetroot juice for the duration of the study.
The researchers observed an average 8/4 mmHg reduction in blood pressure in the group consuming nitrate-containing beetroot juice. The reduction normalised the blood pressure of most participants. The group also reported a 20% improvement in blood vessel dilation capacity and a 10% reduction in artery stiffness. These changes were indicative of reduced heart disease risk. The placebo group in comparison did not report any improvements.
In the 2 weeks after the participants stopped the consumption of beetroot juice, the researchers observed a reversal of these beneficial changes. Commenting on the study, the researchers said, “These findings suggest a role for dietary nitrate as an affordable, readily available, adjunctive treatment in the management of patients with hypertension.” The nitrates contained in beetroot and other vegetables are water soluble and hence the researchers suggest steaming, roasting or drinking as juice to retain the nitrate content.
High blood pressure is a risk factor for many conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. The present study showed how the inclusion of nitrate-rich vegetables such as beetroot could help in controlling high blood pressure. Since lifelong medication compliance could be an issue with hypertensive patients, simple dietary interventions, on the other hand are patient friendly and easily adoptable too.
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