With concerns about contaminated antihypertensive medications, many people are interested in ways to lower their blood pressure without drugs. There is a wide range of options: exercise, weight loss, slow breathing, the relaxation response. Some people look for a beverage that might hold the key. One possibility is hibiscus tea. Another is beet juice. Have you tried eating beets for better blood pressure?
Can You Use Beets for Better Blood Pressure?
Q. I have read that beets lower blood pressure, but there is controversy about whether only raw ungrated (i. e. not oxidized) beets lower blood pressure or also grated and cooked beets do. Can you clarify this question?
A. Most of the research involves beetroot juice. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials concluded that the juice lowers blood pressure (Advances in Nutrition, Nov. 15, 2017).
We have not seen research comparing grated beets to beetroot juice. A study comparing beet juice to cooked beets found that both lowered blood pressure, but beet juice reduced several additional markers of inflammation such as hs-CRP more than cooked beets (Journal of Human Hypertension, Oct. 2016). In addition, beet juice was better at lowering cholesterol levels. But if blood pressure is your primary interest, cooked beets or even beet powder might work well enough.
One reader offered this testimonial:
“I recently had my blood pressure increase (140 over 90). I am now taking beet powder. I add this to food or water. It has a pleasant taste, not very beety. My blood pressure now is in the normal range.”
Beyond Beets for Better Blood Pressure:
Beet juice is not the only vegetable juice that can increase nitric oxide levels in the blood vessels and help them relax. (This is probably a big part of the way beets lower blood pressure.) One study found that beverages made with spinach or rocket salad (arugula) could also bring blood pressure down (Journal of Nutrition, May 2016). Other scientists found that chard gel brought systolic blood pressure down about as much as beet juice (Nitric Oxide, April 1, 2017).
For those interested in the exact mechanism, this article in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (Jan. 2017) may be of interest.