Queen Mary University of London have published a new study touting the beneficial impact of daily beetroot consumption on high blood pressure. Patients diagnosed with high blood pressure who consumed a daily 250ml glass of beetroot juice experienced an average decrease in blood pressure of about 8/4 mmHg. Each 2mmHg increase in blood pressure increases the likelihood of death from heart disease by 7 per cent and stroke by 10 per cent.
The study was conducted on 64 patients aged 18 – 85 years. Half of the patients were taking prescribed anti-hypertensive drugs but were failing to reach their target blood pressure, and the other half had been identified as having high blood pressure but not yet on medication. Patients were randomly assigned a daily dietary supplementation for four weeks and were monitored for two weeks both before and after the study. Fifty percent of patients received the dietary nitrate (250ml beetroot juice) and the other half received a placebo (250ml nitrate-free beetroot juice).
The research findings revealed that patients in the beetroot group experienced an improvement of around 20 per cent in blood vessel dilation capacity and around a 10% reduction in arterial stiffness. In addition to lowering blood pressure the impact on blood vessel function has been correlated to a substantial reduction in heart disease. No adverse effects were documented.
After the study period, the blood pressure readings among patients in the beetroot group returned to their previous high levels. There were no changes to blood pressure, blood vessel function or arterial stiffness among the placebo group during the study.
“Diseases of the heart and blood vessels – which can cause heart attacks and strokes – remain the biggest cause of death worldwide. However, unlike some other serious illnesses, we are fortunate in that we can make certain lifestyle changes which dramatically improve our heart and blood vessel health, said Professor Amrita Ahluwalia, lead author of the study. “This research has proven that a daily inorganic nitrate dose can be as effective as medical intervention in reducing blood pressure and the best part is we can get it from beetroot and other leafy green vegetables.”
“These findings are exciting because we’ve now tested the effectiveness of dietary nitrate in reducing blood pressure in 64 patients, over a sustained period of time, and found it works. Plus it’s so easy for patients to work this into their daily lives and see a positive benefit. The next step will hopefully be to run a large-scale Phase Three clinical trial so we can determine whether the impact of dietary nitrate is sustained long-term, and whether this should be recommended in NHS guidelines, ” said Professor Ahluwalia. “It is hugely beneficial for people to be able to take steps in controlling their blood pressure through non-clinical means such as eating vegetables. We know many people don’t like taking drugs life-long when they feel ok, and because of this, medication compliance is a big issue.
The researchers recommend including dietary nitrate by steaming, roasting or drinking vegetables in a juice.
Dietary nitrate provides sustained blood pressure lowering in hypertensive patients, Vikas Kapil, et al., Hypertension, doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.04675, published online 24 November 2014, abstract.