Beets and blood pressure

Contents

This Sweet Beet Juice Recipe Has Blood Pressure Benefits

Share on PinterestDesign by Lauren Park

It doesn’t matter if you drink this vibrant tonic early in the morning or as a late-night snack — the benefits of beets can fit into your lattes, smoothies, and even cocktails. Our simple and naturally sweet beet juice is full of nutrients and easy to make.

Not only are beets full of vitamins, minerals, and medicinal plant compounds, they’re low in calories and high in fiber, folate, manganese, and dietary nitrates.

Beet benefits

  • can significantly lower blood pressure after only a few hours of consumption
  • low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals
  • improves athletic performance
  • improves cognitive function

Plus, they’re great for blood pressure! Well, the nitrates in beets are. Studies have shown that beets can significantly lower blood pressure after only a few hours of consumption. Both raw beet juice and cooked beets were found to be effective at lowering blood pressure and decreasing inflammation. However, raw beet juice had a greater effect.

For athletes, the same nitrates can directly affect how cells produce energy. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces of beet juice daily enhances athletic endurance and can increase oxygen use. To maximize the effect of beet juice on athletic performance, it’s best to consume beet juice two to three hours before training or exercising.

Additionally, nitrates can improve blood flow to the brain. Poor blood flow to the brain contributes to many diseases and a decline in cognitive function. Beets can keep your brain sharp, as improved blood flow to the frontal lobe is linked with increased cognitive alertness and reaction time.

Recipe for Sweet Beet Juice

Ingredients

  • 1 large beet, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 lemon

Directions

  1. Process all of the ingredients through a juicer. Serve juice over ice, if desired.

Pro tip: If you don’t happen to own a juicer, you can use a blender instead. Simply combine the beet, apple, and lemon with half a cup of water, give or take, and blend on the highest setting for about 60 seconds. Then pour the blended contents through a strainer or cheese cloth.

Dosage: One of the great things about beet juice is that you can feel the effects in as little as three hours. For the best results, drink one to two cups. And if you’re looking for sustained reduction in blood pressure, drink at least that much on a daily basis.

Possible side effects Beets are generally safe for consumption, but due to their high levels of oxalate content, they carry the risk of contributing to kidney stone formation. People with sensitive stomachs or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) should also eat cautiously, as beets can cause digestive discomfort.

Tiffany La Forge is a professional chef, recipe developer, and food writer who runs the blog Parsnips and Pastries. Her blog focuses on real food for a balanced life, seasonal recipes, and approachable health advice. When she’s not in the kitchen, Tiffany enjoys yoga, hiking, traveling, organic gardening, and hanging out with her corgi, Cocoa. Visit her at her blog or on Instagram.

Drinking cup of beetroot juice daily may help lower blood pressure

People with high blood pressure who drank about 8 ounces of beetroot juice experienced a decrease in blood pressure of about 10 mm Hg. But the preliminary findings don’t yet suggest that supplementing your diet with beetroot juice benefits your health, researchers said.

“Our hope is that increasing one’s intake of vegetables with a high dietary nitrate content, such as green leafy vegetables or beetroot, might be a lifestyle approach that one could easily employ to improve cardiovascular health,” said Amrita Ahluwalia, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a professor of vascular pharmacology at The Barts and The London Medical School in London.

The beetroot juice contained about 0.2g of dietary nitrate, levels one might find in a large bowl of lettuce or perhaps two beetroots. In the body the nitrate is converted to a chemical called nitrite and then to nitric oxide in the blood. Nitric oxide is a gas that widens blood vessels and aids blood flow.

“We were surprised by how little nitrate was needed to see such a large effect,” Ahluwalia said. “This study shows that compared to individuals with healthy blood pressure much less nitrate is needed to produce the kinds of decreases in blood pressure that might provide clinical benefits in people who need to lower their blood pressure. However, we are still uncertain as to whether this effect is maintained in the long term.”

The study involved eight women and seven men who had a systolic blood pressure between 140 to 159 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), did not have other medical complications and were not taking blood pressure medication. The study participants drank 250 mL of beetroot juice or water containing a low amount of nitrate, and had their blood pressure monitored over the next 24 hours.

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Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers. Systolic blood pressure, which is the top number and the highest, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. Diastolic blood pressure, the bottom and lower number, measures blood pressure in the arteries between heart beats.

Compared with the placebo group, participants drinking beetroot juice had reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure — even after nitrite circulating in the blood had returned to their previous levels prior to drinking beetroot. The effect was most pronounced three to six hours after drinking the juice but still present even 24 hours later.

In the United States, more than 77 million adults have diagnosed high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart diseases and stroke. Eating vegetables rich in dietary nitrate and other critical nutrients may be an accessible and inexpensive way to manage blood pressure, Ahluwalia said.

Getting people to eat more fruits and vegetables is challenging, but results of the study offer hope, she said. “In the U.K., the general public is told that they should be eating five portions of fruit or vegetables a day but this can be hard to do. Perhaps we should have a different approach to dietary advice. If one could eat just one (fruit or vegetable) a day, this is one more than nothing and should be viewed as positive.”

The USDA recommends filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, and the American Heart Association recommends eating eight or more fruit and vegetable servings every day.

The British Heart Foundation funded the study.

The American Heart Association has tips on adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet.

Follow @HeartNews on Twitter for the latest heart and stroke news.

Does beetroot juice lower blood pressure?

High blood pressure is a serious public health concern. It increases the risk of more dangerous health conditions, such as heart attack, stroke, and chronic heart failure. High blood pressure is also a major risk factor for kidney disease.

Share on PinterestBeetroot juice has been investigated for the powerful effect of its nitrate content on blood pressure.

Beetroot contains high levels of dietary nitrate (NO3), which the body converts into biologically active nitrite (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO). In the human body, NO relaxes and dilates blood vessels.

Other leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and cabbage, also have high levels of the compound. They take it up from the soil through their roots.

A meta-analysis of 16 trials was published in The Journal of Nutrition in 2013.

The researchers found that “Inorganic nitrate and beetroot juice supplementation was associated with a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure.”

One major trial was carried out at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in the United Kingdom and published in the journal Hypertension. The research was funded by the British Heart Foundation.

They found the following results:

“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.”

Dr. Shannon Amoils, British Heart Foundation, senior research advisor

For the trial, Prof. Amrita Ahluwalia of the vascular pharmacology department at QMUL and her colleagues recruited 64 people aged between 18 and 85 years.

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.

The participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group consumed a 250-milliliter (ml) glass of beetroot juice, and the other group had the same, except their beetroot juice was nitrate-free.

The nitrate-free beetroot juice was the basis of the placebo group.

All groups consumed the juice daily for 4 weeks. They were also monitored for 2 weeks before and after the study, bringing the total trial period to 8 weeks.

The trial was double-blind, which means neither the administering clinicians nor the patients knew whether the beetroot juice they were given was the placebo or the active supplement.

During the 4 weeks in which they were taking the juice, patients in the active supplement group, whose beetroot juice contained inorganic nitrate, experienced a reduction in blood pressure of 8/4 millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

The first figure is systolic pressure, generated when the heart is pumping, and the second figure is diastolic pressure, created when the heart is relaxing and filling with blood. The 8/4-mmHg reduction brought the blood pressure of many participants back into the normal range.

In the 2 weeks after they stopped drinking the juice, their blood pressure returned to the higher levels noted at the start of the study.

This is the first study that shows evidence of dietary nitrate supplementation’s long-lasting benefit in a group of patients with high blood pressure.

Share on PinterestHigh blood pressure is a common health issue in the U.S., and beetroot juice acts as a natural aid.

The patients in the active supplement group also experienced a 20 percent or so improvement in blood vessel dilation capacity, and their artery stiffness reduced by around 10 percent.

Studies show that these changes are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.

There were no changes in blood pressure, blood vessel function, or artery stiffness in the placebo group.

The authors note that the reduction achieved in the active supplement group is close to that achieved by medication. The average reduction in blood pressure caused by a single anti-hypertension drug is 9/5 mmHg.

The study concludes:

“These findings suggest a role for dietary nitrate as an affordable, readily-available, adjunctive treatment in the management of patients with hypertension.”

To put the importance of these findings in context: The authors note that large-scale observational studies show that for every 2 mmHg increase in blood pressure, the risk of death from heart disease goes up 7 percent and the risk of stroke by 10 percent.

Beetroot juice for blood pressure

Beetroot juice “could save your life” claimed the Daily Mail. It said that the juice contains nitrate, a chemical that reduces blood pressure and therefore cuts the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The research behind this story aimed to look at whether nitrates may be responsible for the blood pressure-lowering effects of beetroot juice. It found that drinking beetroot juice or taking nitrate capsules resulted in short-term reductions in blood pressure in healthy volunteers with normal blood pressure.

The study is limited in that it was in a small number of healthy volunteers (only nine people drank beetroot juice), who were only monitored for three hours. It did not look at long-term outcomes such as heart disease or stroke.

High blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and therefore reducing it is often assumed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, whether this is the case will depend on if the effect is great enough, and if the reduction can be sustained over time. Whether drinking beetroot juice can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease would therefore need to be tested in long-term studies that assessed outcomes such as heart disease or stroke.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers the Queen Mary University of London, University College London and the University of Exeter and Plymouth. The research was funded by the British Heart Foundation. Two of the researchers report that they are directors of Heartbeet Ltd, a company linked to commercial producers of organic beetroot juice. The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Hypertension .

The BBC News and Daily Mail covered this story. The BBC News headline of, ‘Nitrate content ‘behind benefits of beetroot juice” is a more accurate reflection of the aims and findings of the study than the Mail ’s headline, ’Drinking beetroot juice dramatically lowers risk of heart disease and strokes’. The study has not looked at the effects of beetroot juice on either heart disease or stroke, so we cannot say whether it reduces the risk of these outcomes or saves lives. The Mail also suggested that the effects of nitrate tablets and beetroot juice were directly compared, which was not the case.

What kind of research was this?

This randomised crossover trial investigated whether taking nitrate, either within nitrate-rich food or as a supplement capsule, affects blood pressure. The researchers’ previous study found that drinking beetroot juice reduced blood pressure in healthy people. Beetroot is high in the chemical nitrate that, when mixed with saliva in the body, is converted into nitrite, a chemical that causes blood vessels to dilate.

The aim of this research was to test whether the nitrate content of beetroot was responsible for this blood pressure-lowering effect. The researchers say that, ‘determining how vegetables confer protection against and exploiting this to therapeutic advantage are likely to have considerable health and economic implications’.

The study design involves participants receiving different interventions in a random order. This is an appropriate design for looking at treatments that have only short-term effects. The researchers arranged a minimum break of seven days between each treatment. This was to reduce the chances that the treatment given first would still be having an effect when the second was given.

What did the research involve?

The researchers enrolled healthy volunteers and gave them capsules containing nitrate (potassium nitrate), capsules without nitrate (potassium chloride – to rule out an effect of potassium), beetroot juice, or water. The effects of each treatment on the levels of nitrite in the blood and blood pressure were then monitored for up to 24 hours.

The volunteers were 18 to 45 years old, non-smokers, with BMIs of 18 to 31kg/m2. They were not on medication to treat any medical condition and had normal blood pressure. They were asked to eat a diet low in nitrates during the study (no processed meat or leafy green vegetables).

There were three parts to the study. In each part, volunteers received two different treatments in a random order. The three parts of the study compared:

  • potassium nitrate capsules (containing 1488mg nitrate) and potassium chloride capsules in 21 volunteers; participants and researchers did not know which type of capsule was being received
  • a lower dose capsule of potassium nitrate and a higher dose capsule of potassium nitrate in six additional volunteers; participants and researchers knew which dose was being received
  • 250ml of beetroot juice and 250ml water in nine different volunteers who were monitored for three hours after each drink; participants and researchers knew which drink was being received

There was a minimum of seven days between each treatment received.

Data was analysed by a person who did not know which treatment had been taken before each measurement of nitrite and blood pressure.

What were the basic results?

The researchers found that nitrate capsules were associated with increased levels of nitrite in the blood, and reduced blood pressure over a 24-hour period compared to potassium chloride capsules. Higher-dose nitrate capsules were linked with a greater increase in nitrite concentrations in the blood than lower-dose capsules.

Women had lower blood pressure and higher levels of nitrite in their blood at the start of the study (before any treatment) than men. Women showed a greater increase in nitrite in the blood after taking the nitrate capsules than men, but had smaller reductions in blood pressure.

Drinking beetroot juice also caused the levels of nitrite in the blood to increase over three hours, and systolic blood pressure to decrease by a maximum of 5.4 mmHg compared to drinking water.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers conclude that their findings showed dose-dependent decreases in blood pressure after taking a nitrate supplement or eating a food high in nitrate (beetroot). They say their study ‘suggests that a dietary nitrate approach to may have therapeutic use’.

Conclusion

This small study has shown some reduction in blood pressure with beetroot juice. This finding needs cautious interpretation however, as the study has several features that limit the conclusions that can be drawn from it. These include the fact that it was in only a small number of people (nine who drank beetroot juice) and that all participants were healthy and had normal blood pressure.

Another constraint is that the volunteers who drank beetroot juice were only monitored for three hours, so it is unclear how long this effect may last.

The puzzling result of this study – that more women absorbed nitrate and converted it to nitrite better but had a smaller blood pressure changes when compared with men – needs further explanation.

The researchers offer theories for why this may have happened. However, the fact that the fall in blood pressure in women taking the nitrate capsules appeared to be minimal compared to men, suggests that nitrates (and possibly beetroot juice) may not be effective for everyone, a point not made by the researchers or the newspapers.

High blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, therefore reducing it is assumed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, whether drinking beetroot juice regularly can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease or death would need to be tested in long-term studies. Such a study would ideally be a randomised controlled trial and look at the effects of different levels of beetroot consumption.

Analysis by Bazian
Edited by NHS Website

Links to the headlines

Drinking beetroot juice dramatically lowers risk of heart disease and strokes.

Daily Mail, 29 June 2010

Nitrate content ‘behind benefits of beetroot juice’

BBC News, 29 June 2010

Links to the science

Kapil V, Milsom AB, Okorie M, et al.

Inorganic Nitrate Supplementation Lowers Blood Pressure in Humans. Role for Nitrite-Derived NO.

Hypertension 2010, published online June 28

Scientific title

Effects of dietary nitrate and folate supplementation on blood pressure in hypertensive Tanzanians: a feasibility trial

Acronym

Study hypothesis

We hypothesise that a combined folate and nitrate supplementation could lead to a greater nitric oxide generation and determine a greater effect on systolic BP compared to a control group or nitrate alone.

Ethics approval

FMS Ethics Committee, 09/04/2018, 1458/3377/2018
CRERC, 29/01/2018, 1105

Study design

Interventional three-arm parallel double-blind placebo controlled randomised clinical trial

Primary study design

Interventional

Secondary study design

Randomised parallel trial

Trial setting

Community

Trial type

Prevention

Patient information sheet

Not available in web format, please use contct details to request a participant information sheet

Condition

Hypertension

Intervention

The study is divided in four phases: selection of participants, screening, baseline/randomisation and intervention.
Participants will be randomised into 3 groups using an online platform (sealed-envelopes.com). A member of staff not involved in the study will be the custodian of the randomisation list and he/she will be responsible for the provision to the study participants of the nutritional interventions so as not to compromise the double-blinding of the trial.
Group 1 and Group 2 will be provided with a nutritional interventional, whereas Group 3 will be the control group.
Participants in Group 1 will be asked to consume a small bottle (70 ml) of concentrated beetroot juice (Beet it shots, James White LTD, UK), which is naturally enriched in inorganic nitrate (approximately 400 mg of inorganic nitrate). Participants will be asked to drink the beetroot juice in the morning and will be provided with a form to record the time of the consumption and if they experience any problems. Participants will be considered not compliant to the intervention if they miss 7 or more supplementation days. Participants will be asked not to change their habitual dietary habits, physical activity level and alcohol and caffeinated drinks consumption during the trial. Participants will be provided with the specific amount of beetroot juice to be consumed during the intervention period.
Participants in Group 1 will also be asked to take one folate capsule (5 mg folate) every morning after consumption of the beetroot juice, and will be provided with a form to record the time of consumption and if they experience any problems. Participants will be considered not compliant with the intervention if they miss seven or more supplementation days. Participants will be provided with the specific amount of capsules to be consumed during the intervention period. Capsules will be dispensed in plastic containers showing the individual participant code, the number of capsules, expiry date, storage and prescription instructions.
Group 1 participants will be asked to complete this intervention for a period of 8 weeks.
Participants in Group 2 will be asked to consume the beetroot juice as above, and will be provided with folate-free placebo capsules to take daily. They will be asked to do so for a period of 8 weeks.
Participants in Group 3 will be the control group, and will therefore be provided with nitrate-depleted beetroot juicer (<1 mg per 70 ml) and/or folate-free placebo capsules to be consumed everyday in the morning for 2 months. Both placebos (beetroot juice and capsules) will have the same appearance, taste and colour as the active interventions. As in Group 1 and Group 2, participants in this group will receive a form to record the timing of consumption.
After 2 weeks, participants in all 3 groups will be contacted via telephone to assess the compliance to the intervention and discuss any problems that they may have had. Participants will be asked to return to the research centre after one month for a measurement of body weight, resting blood pressure, assessment of safety and compliance with the intervention, and collection of a blood sample. At the 1 month follow up they will complete a questionnaire about their experience of the study and their compliance. At the end of the visit they will receive another 1 month supply of the study treatment to complete the intervention. They will return to the research centre after 4 weeks for their last visit and the measurements conducted at baseline will be repeated in the same order. Participants will be recompensated for their time being involved with the study at each of the follow ups with an extra payment at the final follow up appointment if they have been compliant throughout.

Intervention type

Supplement

Phase

Drug names

Primary outcome measure

Compliance to the intervention, assessed using self-developed standardised feedback questionnaires at the baseline, 30 days and 60 days (end of the study).

Secondary outcome measures

1. Changes in resting and 24 hour ambulatory blood pressure (BP):
1.1. Resting blood pressure assessed using an automated BP monitor at the baseline, after 1 month and at the end of the study
1.2. 24 hour ambulatory blood pressure assessed using a BP monitor with an inflatable cuff secured around the arm, which will regularly inflate and deflate over the 24 hour period
2. Changes in whole-body nitric oxide (NO) production, assessed using the Oral Nitrate Test (non-invasive stable isotope method) at the baseline and after 60 days (end of the study)
3. Blood nitrate concentration, assessed using the ONT method, with samples then being derivatised using the nitromesitylene method and the enrichment level of the tracer will be determined using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry at the baseline and after 60 days (end of the study)
4. Blood folate concentration, assessed using the ONT method, with samples then being derivatised using the nitromesitylene method and the enrichment level of the tracer will be determined using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry at the baseline and after 60 days (end of the study)
5. Validity of Berkeley Life Nitric Oxide Saliva Test Strips for the assessment of nitrite concentrations, assessed at the baseline and after 30 and 60 days

Juraschek, who was not involved in the research, said the findings were limited by the short-term nature of the study and need to be followed up with rigorous clinical trials in humans.

He also said whatever their benefits, dietary nitrate supplements likely will never capture all the benefits of eating diets rich in fruits and vegetables, such as the Mediterranean diet or DASH, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Both diets are singled out in recent guidelines from the AHA and American College of Cardiology to prevent heart disease and stroke. Root and green, leafy vegetables are features of the DASH diet.

“Innovation is important, but on the flip side, it’s tricky to distill a healthy diet down to a single element. We all need to increase our consumption of fruits and vegetables, which have benefits that go beyond just blood pressure and cardiovascular disease,” Juraschek said.

“We all want to know, ‘What is the silver bullet that could fix blood pressure?’ But I think a holistic approach and eating nutritious foods is still the best answer.”

If you have questions or comments about this story, please email [email protected]

Whether you regularly put beets on your plate, or only opt for the occasional beet and goat cheese arugula salad, there’s no denying the recent popularity of this root vegetable. Not only are beets packed with nutrients, but they also offer health and fitness benefits other foods do not. Here’s what you need to know about beets—and how beetroot powder could give your body the boost it needs.

What’s So Special About Beets?

Beets, beetroot juice, and beetroot powders have been popping up in smoothie recipes, pre-workouts, and more in recent years—and for good reason.

For very few calories, beets contain a variety of vitamins, minerals (especially potassium), and antioxidants.

But the real secret to beets’ powers: nitrates. Found in a handful of plant foods, these compounds are converted into nitric oxide, a molecule that dilates blood vessels, says Angie Asche, M.S., R.D., sports dietitian and owner of Eleat Sports Nutrition. “This allows for increased blood flow throughout the body.”

Benefits Of Beetroot Powder

Thing is, you’d have to eat a lot of beets (like somewhere between two and eight) to produce enough nitric oxide to reap real blood flow benefits. That’s where beetroot powder, which is made from dehydrated beets and thus contains higher levels of nitrates, comes in. (Concentrated beetroot juice also offers the same advantage.) Here are five health and fitness perks of the ruby red powder.

1. Strengthens Your Heart Health

When it comes to heart health, beets’ biggest benefit is improved blood pressure. “Dietary nitrates from beets dilate blood vessels, allowing for increased blood flow and therefore putting less stress on the heart to pump oxygen and nutrients throughout the body,” says Kelly Jones M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., nutrition consultant to professional athletes, sports organizations, and fitness clubs.

Keep in mind, though, that eating beets once or twice won’t permanently lower blood pressure; you’ve got to consume beets’ nitrates regularly—and incorporating beetroot powder into your routine is an easy way to do so.

2. Increases Exercise Endurance

While they help keep your heart from working too hard, beets’ nitrates can also help your muscles work harder.

One 2017 study published in the journal Nutrients, for example, found that beet supplementation may improve time-to-exhaustion during exercise. Translation: It may help you work out for longer.

According to Asche, this benefit may stem from nitric oxide’s ability to increase blood flow, which then increases the amount of oxygen delivered to your muscles. Since oxygen is a crucial component in powering forms of ‘aerobic’ or ‘cardiovascular’ exercise—like long runs or bike rides—more oxygen means better performance.

3. Power Through High-Intensity Workouts

Not only do beets’ nitrates help enhance cardio exercise, but they also boost higher-intensity training—like sprints or heavy lifting—that rely on chemicals other than oxygen. Case in point: One 2018 Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition study found that beetroot reduced fatigue during high-intensity exercise.

Related: What Happened When I Swapped My Usual Pre-Workout For Beets

Though research has yet to uncover exactly how beets have this effect, Jones suggests it may relate to beets’ ability to reduce the breakdown of creatine phosphate—a crucial chemical for this type of exercise—during training.

4. Reduces Recovery Time

Along with supporting exercise, the nitric oxide produced by beets’ nitrates can also help speed up recovery. Not only does boosted blood flow mean increased oxygen transport during exercise, but also increased transport of oxygen and other nutrients muscles need to recover after exercise. As a result, your hard-worked tissues get the materials they need to repair.

Research backs this up: One study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, for example, found that supplementing with beets after intense exercise modulated soreness in active guys.

5. Boosts Brain Health

Outside of the gym, beetroot powder may also provide cognitive health benefits, especially for older adults.

According to one 2011 study published in the journal Nitric Oxide, nitrates may help improve delivery of blood to areas of the brain associated with executive function. (This includes memory, focus, and emotion regulation.)

The theory is that by dilating blood vessels and improving blood flow, nitric oxide also improves oxygen and nutrient delivery to the brain, says Jones.

This effect may also benefits the brains of younger populations, but research has more investigating to do.

How To Use Beetroot Powder

Ready to add some ruby red powder to your smoothies or pre-workout shake? If you want to use beetroot to power your workout performance, Asche recommends mixing up and drinking one serving of beetroot powder about 30 minutes before exercising.

If you’re new to using beets or beet supplements before exercise, though, don’t just start chugging away. “Beetroot juice and powder have very distinct flavors and can cause stomach upset in some people,” says Asche. If you plan on using beetroot powder to power a competition—like a running or obstacle race—test it a few times during practice workouts first.

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When it comes to overall health benefits, especially heart health, you’ll need to up your intake even more. “Half a liter of beetroot juice (about two cups) per day has been shown beneficial,” says Jones. (That’s the equivalent of eight beets!) To reap similar benefits from beetroot powder, take anywhere between one to four servings per day, depending on the brand.

In addition to eating beets or supplementing with beetroot juice or powder regularly, Jones recommends incorporating a variety of other nitrate-containing vegetables into your diet. Leafy greens, celery, cucumber, celeriac, Chinese cabbage, leeks, fennel, and parsley, all contain naturally-occurring nitrates.

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Sip on This: Beet Juice Lowers Blood Pressure

MONDAY, April 15, 2013 — A glass of beet juice a day may not keep the cardiologist away, but it could give your heart a solid boost. People with high blood pressure who drank a cup of the earthy purple brew lowered their blood pressure for up to 24 hours, according to a small study published today in the journal Hypertension.

“It is well known that eating fruits and vegetables is good for cardiovascular health,” said Amrita Ahluwalia, PhD, the lead author of the study and a professor of vascular biology at The Barts and The London Medical School in London. However, vegetables that are rich in compounds call nitrates, including beets and their juice, may offer special benefits for people with elevated blood pressure, she said.

In the body, nitrates from food are converted into nitrites and ultimately nitric oxide. This gas expands blood vessels, which improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure. Nitric oxide has the opposite effect of stress or cold temperatures, which cause blood vessels to constrict, thus raising blood pressure temporarily.

In the study, 15 adults with stage 1 hypertension — defined as systolic blood pressure between 140 and 159 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) — drank about 8 ounces of beet juice or the same amount of water with a low nitrate content and had their blood pressure monitored for the next 24 hours. A cup of beet juice has roughly the same nitrate content as two whole beets.

The beet drink decreased participants’ blood pressure by approximately 10 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), with the greatest drop occurring 3 to 6 hours after they consumed the juice.

In previous trials, Dr. Ahluwalia and her colleagues found that people with normal blood pressure required twice as much beet juice — a full pint — to see the same reduction in blood pressure. “In this study, we saw that a dose that had a really small effect in healthy people had a really impressive effect in people with high blood pressure,” she said.

“Lowering blood pressure in people with raised blood pressure is very important because we know that approximately 50 percent of all heart attacks and 60 to 70 percent of all strokes are a direct consequence of having high blood pressure,” said Ahluwalia.

However, the new study demonstrated only the short-term effects of drinking beet juice. Ahluwalia is completing a longer study to see if people with high blood pressure would continue to benefit from drinking a daily glass of beet juice for four weeks.

Ahluwalia said bottled beet juice is readily available in the United Kingdom, where the study was performed. However, here in United States, you’ll probably have to make a special trip to a health store or juice bar to get your hands on the drink, said Katherine Patton, RD, a registered dietitian in the Preventive Cardiology Clinic at the Cleveland Clinic.

The good news is, you don’t have to sip the juice — or even eat whole beets — to rein in your blood pressure. Plants take up nitrates from the soil in order to grow, and many vegetables, especially leafy greens, are good sources, according to Nathan Bryan, PhD, a biochemist at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston who studies the health effects of nitric oxide. In fact, “kale has the highest nitrate content of any vegetable we’ve tested, including beets,” he said.

Nitric oxide can also help keep arteries free and clear and prevent blood clotting, Dr. Bryan added.

Some studies have raised concerns about a possible link between nitrates and nitrites in processed meat and gastrointestinal cancers, but experts say there is no reason to be alarmed about the nitrates found in vegetables. Nitrates and nitrites, while not carcinogenic on their own, can combine with compounds from proteins in the gut to form nitrosamines, some of which are thought to cause cancer in humans. However, vegetables also contain antioxidants, such as vitamin C, that block the formation of nitrosamines. “Nature has provided a way to generate the benefits of nitric oxide without the risk of forming these nitrosamine compounds,” said Bryan.

“There is some evidence of toxicity from the addition of nitrites to processed meats, but there is no evidence of nitrates in vegetables causing these effects,” Ahluwalia added. “There is no evidence to suggest that eating vegetables gives you cancer — in fact, it’s quite to the contrary.”

To improve heart health, Patton recommends follow the government’s MyPlate guidelines and filling at least half of your plate with vegetables and fruits at lunch and dinner. “If you know your diet is low in vegetables, then making an effort to eat more vegetables – especially as a replacement for high-sodium foods – could really help lower your blood pressure.”

Beetroots have been used to treat different ailments for centuries. The romans used the roots for medicinal purposes such as treating indigestion.

In recent years there have been a lot of research done on beetroot juice and its possible blood pressure lowering effects, performance enhancing capabilities and brain boosting abilities!

Studies on food and its relationship to health is constantly being conducted.

One food that’s been studies a lot in recent years is beetroot, or to be more precise, beetroot. It’s been shown to lower blood pressure, improve athletic performance and also have a positive effect on cognitive health.

The beneficial effects of beetroots are believed to be due to their high concentration of nitrates.

When consuming food containing nitrates such as beetroots, the nitrates are transformed to nitrites and finally into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is the compound that’s been prescribed the powerful beneficial effects on the body.

Beetroot Juice Benefits

  • Beetroot Juice and Blood Pressure – Consuming nitrate rich food such as beetroot juice and leafy greens can lower blood pressure! It’s believed that the dietary nitrates found in beetroots can widen the blood vessels and thus reduce blood pressure. Other good sources of nitrates are leafy greens (e.g. kale, rocket and spinach). These are good to include in your diet anyways as they’re packed with nutrients!
  • Athletic Performance – Supplementing with beetroot juice is popular among endurance athletes as it may improve performance. It’s believed that beetroot juice improves the blood flow in the body, makes oxygen utilisation more efficient and may improve power output. although it’s not established if beetroot juice actually improves athletic performance, as there are conflicting results from various studies. There may also be individual differences in the response to supplementing with beetroot juice and nitrates.
  • Boost cognitive function – Consuming foods rich in nitrates such as beetroot juice and leafy greens (kale, rocket, spinach) may improve cognitive function! A shot of beetroot juice in combination with exercise was shown to improve brain function among elderly! Another study showed that beetroot juice, in combination with exercise, improved cognitive function.

The link between oral bacteria and the metabolism of nitrates

Did you know that bacterias in your mouth plays a big role in the metabolism of nitrate in your body?

What happens is that when consuming nitrate rich foods such as beetroot juice, nitrates are absorbed in the small intestine and then transported to blood plasma. Once the nitrates are in the blood plasma, the salivary glands will absorb the nitrates and release them into the mouth. Bacterias in the mouth will reduce the nitrate into nitrite, which is released into the saliva. When the saliva is swallowed, the acidic environment in the stomach will reduce some of the nitrite to nitric oxide. And when nitric oxide is absorbed into the blood vessels it will cause them to relax.

One study showed that by using antibacterial mouthwash can eradicate the bacterias needed for the conversion of nitrates and thus hinder the effects of nitrate.

Another study showed that spitting during and 3 h after drinking 500 ml beetroot juice can reduce the amounts of nitrite in plasma and also didn’t lower blood pressure compared to those that drank the juice without spitting, which supports the link between oral bacteria and the metabolism of nitrate in the body.

More Beetroot Juice Benefits

There is more beetroot juice benefits than just its nitrate content!

  • Great source of folate – Folate is a B-vitamin that’s essential for the production of red blood cells. Folate is also a crucial for the production of new cells in the body and the synthesis of DNA. Women who plan to become pregnant are recommended to supplement with folate as to minimise the risk of neural tube defects.
  • Anti-inflammatory – Betalain, the pigment found in beetroots, have shown to have anti-inflammatory capabilites and may help to protect the liver against inflammation
  • Anti-oxidative properties – Studies have shown that the pigment betalain has strong antioxidant properties and can protect your cells against oxidative damage and prevent the development of disease.

Beetroot Juice Benefits- The verdict

Beetroot does seem to have promising health effects, with its blood lowering ability being the most established one. As for improving performance, there seem to be individual differences with some studies showing an effect from beetroot juice and others that don’t. Beetroot juice may also improve cognitive function.

The research is really interesting and looks promising, however, more research is needed before beetroot juice benefits can be fully established!

Like most vegetables, beetroots have both anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory capabilities and also provide a good dose of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Beetroot Juice Recipe – How to

Making a beetroot juice is easy. First, you need to have a juicer and these days you can pick up a decent one for a good price. If your beetroots have little dirt on them, you may get away with just giving them a good scrub before juicing them otherwise you may have to peel them. Leaving the skin on will make the juice taste more earthy, so peel them for a less prominent earthy flavour.

If you find the beetroot too earthy, you can add a piece of fruit such as apple, lemon or orange to your juice. Here at NmC we like to add apple, lemon and ginger to our beetroot juice!

If you love beetroots, make sure you check out these recipes

  • Beetroot Burger – A moreish veggie burger packed with flavour!
  • Beet Pesto – Make this beetroot pesto next time you’re making a pesto! It’s a winner!
  • Beetroot and Lentil Salad with Basil Avocado Dressing – A hearty, fresh and satisfying plant-based salad!
  • Beetroot Soup – A earthy beetroot soup with garlicky chickpea croutons!

If you have any questions regarding beetroot juice benefits, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

Beetroot Juice Recipe

A fresh beetroot juice recipe loaded packed with vitamin C, folate and magnesium! Course Drinks Cuisine Vegan Prep Time 5 minutes Servings 1 -2 Author Nutritionist meets Chef

  • 3 beetroots
  • 1 apple
  • 0.5 lemon (optional)
  • knob of ginger (optional)

Instructions

  • Peel the beetroot if you wish.
  • Place all ingredients in a juicer
  • Enjoy!

Tried this recipe? @nutritionistmeetschef or tag #nutritionistmeetschef!

Daily Glass Of Beet Juice Can Beat High Blood Pressure, Study Shows

Led by Professor Amrita Ahluwalia of the William Harvey Research Institute at Barts and The London School of Medicine, and Professor Ben Benjamin of Peninsula Medical School, the research reveals that it is the ingestion of dietary nitrate contained within beetroot juice — and similarly in green, leafy vegetables — which results ultimately in decreased blood pressure. Previously the protective effects of vegetable-rich diets had been attributed to their antioxidant vitamin content.

Professor Ahluwalia and her team found that in healthy volunteers blood pressure was reduced within just 1 hour of ingesting beetroot juice, with a peak drop occurring 3-4 hours after ingestion. Some degree of reduction continued to be observed until up to 24 hours after ingestion. Researchers showed that the decrease in blood pressure was due to the chemical formation of nitrite from the dietary nitrate in the juice.

The nitrate in the juice is converted in saliva, by bacteria on the tongue, into nitrite. This nitrite-containing saliva is swallowed, and in the acidic environment of the stomach is either converted into nitric oxide or re-enters the circulation as nitrite. The peak time of reduction in blood pressure correlated with the appearance and peak levels of nitrite in the circulation, an effect that was absent in a second group of volunteers who refrained from swallowing their saliva during, and for 3 hours following, beetroot ingestion.

More than 25 per cent of the world’s adult population are hypertensive, and it has been estimated that this figure will increase to 29 per cent by 2025. In addition, hypertension causes around 50 per cent of coronary heart disease, and approximately 75 per cent of strokes. In demonstrating that nitrate is likely to underlie the cardio-protective effect of a vegetable-rich diet, the research of Professor Ahluwalia and her colleagues highlights the potential of a natural, low cost approach for the treatment of cardiovascular disease — a condition that kills over 110,000 people in England every year.

Professor Ahluwalia said: “Our research suggests that drinking beetroot juice, or consuming other nitrate-rich vegetables, might be a simple way to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, and might also be an additional approach that one could take in the modern day battle against rising blood pressure.”

The paper, ‘Acute blood pressure lowering, vasoprotective and anti-platelet properties of dietary nitrate via bioconversion to nitrite’, is published online in the March 2008 edition of Hypertension.

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