Beetroot link to lowering blood pressure
Published on 16 April 2013 11:30 AM
Beetroot juice could help combat one of the banes of many older people's lives - acute high blood pressure.
That's according to new British Heart Foundation-funded research.
Researchers claim that every one of the hypertension sufferers who were tested saw their blood pressure levels dip significantly within hours of drinking beetroot juice.
The respondents' blood pressure remained lower up to 24 hours afterwards.
The discovery is being attributed to the drink's high nitrate levels.
Scientists sampled eight women and seven men with typical blood pressures varying from 140 to 159 mm Hg.
They were given 250ml of organic beetroot juice in a double blind crossover test, also involving a placebo drink containing a depleted nitrate beetroot juice.
Those tested who drank the nitrate-rich juice saw an average reduction of 10 mm Hg. This was across both forms of blood pressure.
The effect was at its peak between three to six hours after taking the drink.
High blood pressure has been linked with cardiovascular disease, as well as causing strokes and heart attacks.
The news will be welcomed by older people suffering from any of these who prefer to use natural remedies.
So how does it work?
The nitrate (NO3) in the drink converts into reduced nitrite (NO2), after coming into contact with with enzymes in the saliva, which can be stored in body tissues where is can be diluted further to Nitric Oxide (NO) in the blood.
Nitric Oxide is a signalling molecule that widens blood vessels, enabling blood flows to increase and so reducing blood pressure.
This also raises the oxygen-carrying blood supply, enabling muscles to function more efficiently.
The research was led by Professor Amrita Ahluwalia, professor of vascular biology at the William Harvey Research Institute (Barts Hospital, London) and has been published in Hypertension, the Journal of the American Heart Association.
The findings back up the endorsement of multi-gold-winning Paralympic athlete David Weir.
Weir surprised Boris Johnson last year when he told the London mayor that his 'secret weapon' was a special kind of shot of nothing more sinister than concentrated beetroot juice.
The beetroot juice used in the tests was supplied by Beet It, the UK's leading brand of beetroot juice, which has a naturally high nitrate content.
Copyright Press Association 2013