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Daily Dose of Beetroot Juice Lowers Blood Pressure, Boosts Cardiovascular Health

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If you're looking for natural remedy to help lower your blood pressure and improve your cardiovascular health, you might just find it in a rather unusual beverage. The results of a study published in the February issue of the American Heart Association's medical journal, Hypertension, demonstrated that drinking two cups of beetroot juice daily significantly reduced blood pressure in healthy volunteers.

Among the study participants, blood pressure fell within just one hour of drinking the beetroot juice, with the greatest drop occurring three to four hours following consumption. The blood pressure-lowering effects continued for up to 24 hours afterward.

Physicians and nutrition experts have long recommended diets rich in fruits and vegetables to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Previously, the heart-healthy benefits of these and other plant foods were largely attributed to their rich supply of antioxidants and their high fiber content.

Recently, however, some scientists have begun investigating the roles played by other plant compounds, particularly nitrate. Nitrate occurs naturally in many vegetables, including spinach, cabbage, radishes and, of course, beets.

In the current study, researchers at Barts and The London School of Medicine demonstrated that the nitrate in the beetroot juice was responsible for lowering the volunteers' blood pressure. In the human body, nitrate is converted to nitric oxide, a substance that is known for its ability to dilate blood vessels and subsequently reduce blood pressure.

The effectiveness of the drug nitroglycerine in treating angina, or chest pain, is based on a similar mechanism of action. After taking nitroglycerine, blood levels of nitric oxide increase, and in response, blood vessels around the heart relax and widen.

Wider vessels allow more oxygen-rich blood to be delivered to the starving heart muscle. In most cases, patients taking nitroglycerine experience greater blood flow to the heart and a welcome reduction in chest pain within a matter of moments.

You don't have to take nitroglycerine to enjoy the cardiovascular benefits of nitric oxide — your body produces the substance naturally. Unfortunately, nitric oxide production declines progressively with age.

Many experts blame the steady decline in nitric oxide production for many age-related diseases and disorders of the cardiovascular system, including high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, heart disease, sexual dysfunction and peripheral vascular disease.

If you enjoy the distinctive flavor of beetroot juice, drinking two cups daily might be a good way to increase nitric oxide levels and to improve your cardiovascular health.

Just make sure you take into account the extra calories and sugar. A two-cup serving of beetroot juice contains around 200 calories and 50 grams of carbohydrates. If you don't adjust your daily caloric intake, adding two cups of the juice daily could lead to a weight gain of about a pound and a half a month, which could potentially offset the beetroot-derived cardiovascular benefits.

If downing a couple of glasses of beetroot juice daily doesn't sound like an appealing way to boost your body's supply of nitric oxide, you may get similar benefits by adding more spinach, radishes and cabbage to your diet. Or, you could simply take a dietary supplement that supplies the essential amino acid arginine.

In cells of the body, nitric oxide is manufactured using arginine as a raw material. Because humans are not capable of producing arginine, it must be obtained from foods in the diet or from nutritional supplements.

Food sources of arginine include nuts, seeds, wheat germ and brown rice. Preliminary research suggests that a higher intake of dietary arginine boosts levels of nitric oxide in the body, leading to reductions in blood pressure and improved blood flow throughout the body.

Arginine-containing dietary supplements are popular among body builders, weight lifters and other athletes. In clinical trials measuring exercise performance, supplementation with arginine has been shown to delay muscular fatigue and prolong exercise duration.

Although somewhat controversial in mainstream medicine, the results of several scientific studies suggest that arginine supplementation can improve symptoms of many conditions related to suboptimal blood flow throughout the body. Arginine supplements have been used in the treatment of angina, erectile dysfunction, peripheral artery disease and even dementia.

One thing is certain: High blood pressure and other forms of cardiovascular disease are serious enough to warrant management by a physician. If you're thinking about taking arginine supplements or making beetroot juice a part of your daily diet, it's a good idea to discuss your plans with your doctor first.

Rallie McAllister is a board-certified family physician, speaker and the author of several books, including "Healthy Lunchbox: The Working Mom's Guide to Keeping You and Your Kids Trim." Her website is www.rallieonhealth.com. To find out more about Rallie McAllister, M.D., and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.


Comments

15 Comments | Post Comment
I have really like the article and very helpful, I would to know more about body health.
Comment: #1
Posted by: william
Sat Jan 30, 2010 9:55 AM
Re the beet juice.. how do you make it so it's not dangerous or overdone? Haven't a clue.. is drinking/eating Borsht the same thing?

Thanks!
Comment: #2
Posted by: Angela
Tue May 18, 2010 12:00 PM
I was just reading your article on beet root can beet root alone lower your blood pressure without medication or you have to stay on the medication.
Comment: #3
Posted by: George Riley
Sat Jul 3, 2010 7:07 AM
if i have low blood could i still take beet root are people with low blood couldnt take this product
Comment: #4
Posted by: linda
Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:52 PM
I eat cooked beets almost every day for the last 4 years and drink a cup of the water I cooked the beets in every morning on an empty stomach (I find the taste of raw beet's juice quite strong). My metabolism increased and I lost weight. In the last 2 years I didn't have a flue or a serious cold in the winter as oppose to the past. My blood tests are very good and my overall health is great. It didn't happen over night but consistency won. When I go on vocation, the first thing I am looking for there, is beets in their menu. I treat it as taking medicine necessary for keeping healthy.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Iris Shkiler
Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:46 AM
my bloodpressure is about 160 over about 80, i take Zanidip 10mg,andAtacand 16mg once daily How much of the beetjuice should i take? hoping to hear from you.regards Adrian Duyker
Comment: #6
Posted by: adrian duyker
Sun Jul 10, 2011 11:37 PM
Dr. McAllister,
Arginine has a very low bioavailablility when ingested, in fact the amount of Arginie you would need to ingest in order to increase blood NO levels would not be tolerated po (by mouth). Side effects from supplementation = nausea, diarrhea, heart burn, ulcers. Furthermore, supplementing Arginine can interfere with your body's natural Growth Hormone production (not good for a body builder).
-Julie Hess
Registered Dietitian and Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics
Comment: #7
Posted by: Julie
Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:12 AM
Can you safely drink the water which I cooked beetroot in, so many conflicting opinions and if so how much is it safe to drink?
Comment: #8
Posted by: Charlotte Ogilvy
Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:57 AM
Dr. - - Is the beetroot that comes in a bottle the same strength as would be if one takes the beet root and "juices" them? Please advise. Your article was very helpful. Tom
Comment: #9
Posted by: Tom
Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:14 AM
I have kidney dicease is beet juice or arginine supplements safe for my kidney's-?
Comment: #10
Posted by: larry Donaldson
Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:07 PM
I am already taking medication for high blood pressure.
Will drinking the beetroot juice be a good thing?
I am taking :
ATENOLOL 50mgs
DIOVAN 80 mgs
Comment: #11
Posted by: bronda
Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:44 AM
I would like to start beet juice for blood pressure. I want to get it coming to me.
Comment: #12
Posted by: Richard Vaughn
Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:47 PM
Re: Tom
Comment: #13
Posted by: Anita lieurance
Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:08 PM
Re: George Riley
Comment: #14
Posted by: heneghan
Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:25 AM
how much beet juice should I drink a day...or every other day. I am 66 with high bp.
Comment: #15
Posted by: maria dalessio
Tue Mar 4, 2014 7:43 AM
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