A Natural Way to "Beet" High Blood Pressure
By Austen Smith, DO, Family Medicine Resident
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly “1 of 3 U.S. adults (75 million people) have high blood pressure” and “only half (54%) of these people have their high blood pressure under control.”
Health consequences of hypertension can include, but are not limited to:
- Coronary artery disease, such as heart attack
- Retinopathy (eye damage)
- Nephropathy (kidney damage)
- Heart failure
How do beets play a role?
- A study conducted in 2015 found that drinking nearly a cup of beetroot juice daily for 4 weeks lowered blood pressure. The participants who drank the beetroot juice reduced their systolic blood pressure (top number) by an average of 7.7 points and their diastolic blood pressure (lower number) by an average of 2.4 points.
How does this happen?
- Beets contain high levels of nitrates. The digestive system ultimately converts these nitrates into nitric oxide, a molecule that acts on blood vessels. Nitric oxide relaxes and dilates blood vessels, lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow, and reducing strain on the heart.
Where can you find this colorful vegetable?
- At your local grocery stores, farmer’s market, and even at Firelands Regional Medical Center! Most days of the week, the salad bar on main campus will offer sliced beetroots.
Also, be on the lookout for other vegetables high in nitrate content including spinach, arugula, kale, rhubarb, butterleaf lettuce, and cilantro.