Beetroot juice may treat hypertension

A REGULAR glass of beetroot juice could be the key to beating high blood pressure.

Scientists have discovered that even a small dose of the vegetable’s potent juice can lower blood pressure levels.

Bread enriched with either white or red beetroot had a similar effect.

This has major implications for the health of millions of ­Britons blighted by ill health because of high blood pressure.

Previous studies have shown that drinking 500ml of beetroot juice led to a reduction in blood pressure over 24 hours.

Now researchers from the University of Reading have explored whether the same benefits could be seen from smaller – and more drinkable – doses.

They found a 100g dose resulted in a significant lowering of blood pressure in the short-term, up to four hours, and even in the longer term, up to 13 hours.

Beetroot juice
Beetroot juice

They also found that bread boosted with a similar dose of both white and red varieties of beetroot also reduced blood pressure by a similar margin.

Scientists believe its potency lies in its high nitrate content.

This is a chemical that when ingested becomes nitric oxide, which increases blood flow and keeps our blood pressure low. It also cuts the amount of oxygen needed by muscles.

Nitrate is found in other foods, particularly leafy vegetables such as spinach. But beetroot can also be juiced, the best way to ingest large amounts. Professor Julie Lovegrove, of the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences at Reading, said: “Enriching bread with beetroot may provide a useful vehicle to increase consumption, particularly for those at risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke and coronary heart disease, one of the UK’s biggest killers. At least 10 million suffer from the condition and half have no idea they have it. It affects a third of under-65s and is the root cause of at least 62,000 deaths each year.

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