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Could Beetroot help lower blood pressure?

This versatile vegetable may be doing more than adding a splash of colour to your plate, Dr Emma Derbyshire explains.

Beetroot

High blood pressure (aka hypertension) usually occurs when the heart works harder at pumping blood through narrowed arteries which can cause blood vessel and heart damage over time.

Risk factors for high blood pressure vary. Amongst these smoking, a family history of high blood pressure, being African/Caribbean descent, overweight or obese, not exercising enough, poor sleep, having high alcohol, caffeine and salt intakes, low fruit and vegetable intakes and being aged over 65 years, are all thought to drive up risk.

In severe high blood pressure cases, this can lead to headaches and confusion. However, around 7 million people in the UK have undiagnosed high blood pressure due to this being difficult to detect unless you pay a visit to a health practitioner and have it screened and measured.

Nitrate, beetroot and blood pressure

Interestingly, a new paper in Complete Nutrition reviewed a number of trials showing that that beetroot (via its naturally high nitrate content) can relax the arteries, helping vessels to widen thereby lowering the pressure of blood flowing through them.

In one highly regarded meta-analysis paper, data pooled from 16 trials showed that nitrate from dietary sources such as beetroot, particularly when juiced helped to reduce blood pressure, especially systolic blood pressure (when the heart contracts) with studies ranging from 2 hours to 15 days in duration.

Other work has shown that beetroot may be best consumed before we hit 65. Researchers found that as we get older our bodies response to nitrate is modified by ‘vascular ageing’, reducing the capacity for nitrate to be converted to nitrite and its associated beneficial effects. So beetroot is an important food to eat during mid-life when we could be at risk of rising blood pressure. 

Beetroot from a practical sense is far more than a salad vegetable – it can be juiced, boiled, pickled, grilled or roasted. Beetroot is also available pre-cooked and infused with different flavours. So, beetroot it seems may be useful in maintaining or even modestly reducing high blood pressure, especially in mid-life when the beginning of raised blood pressure may begin to set in.

5 Top Tips to help maintain a healthy blood pressure:

  • Get your blood pressure checked so you can act if it is high.
  • Evaluate how much caffeine you are drinking – it could be adding up.
  • Make sure you are eating plenty of fruit and veg. Give yourself slightly bigger portions to make sure you are getting enough.
  •  Include beetroot in your diet regularly – either as it comes or blended into a juice or smoothie.
  • Take a rain check on how much alcohol you are having. Latest advice is that men and women should have no more than 14 units a week.

For more information, visit Love Beetroot

Last modified: June 10, 2021

Written by 2:48 pm Health

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