Some natural products have an impressive ability to affect human physiology. Among these are vegetables naturally high in nitrate, particularly beets (referred to in England as beetroot). Research shows that drinking beet juice can have health benefits. This reader was impressed that beet juice was better than he expected.
Beet Juice to Lower Blood Pressure:
Q. Despite being on medication for high blood pressure it remained high. My doctor recommended a blood pressure monitor. I was really surprised at how high the readings were.
My late mother suffered from hypertension and had three strokes before she died. Needless to say, I was really worried. The anxiety made the BP even higher.
Recently, I started drinking beetroot juice each day. It has brought my evening blood pressure reading down considerably. Previously, that had been really high. I would certainly recommend beetroot juice.
A. Thank you for the excellent suggestion. There is a surprising amount of research on the benefits of beet juice to lower blood pressure. A study in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (Feb. 2021) found that combining grapefruit juice with beetroot juice enhanced the blood-pressure lowering effect.
You are not the only reader who has had success with beet juice:
Q. I took hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) to control my blood pressure for 10 years, but then I developed a bad rash as a side effect. So with my doctor’s help I was able to discontinue the medicine.
I have been exercising much more and watching my weight. Most importantly, I have been juicing a raw beet every day to lower my blood pressure. I drink from ¼ cup to ½ cup daily, depending on the size of the beet.
I now have my blood pressure down to what it was 15 years ago, though I have been off meds for more than a year. At first I was also taking hawthorn berry extract, but beets are cheaper!
Research Supports Juicing Beets:
A. Your experience dovetails beautifully with the results from a British study (Kapil et al, Hypertension, Feb., 2015).
The scientists had 64 people with elevated blood pressure drink a glass of beet juice every morning for a month. Half the group got regular beet juice, rich in vegetable nitrate, while the other half got beet juice with the nitrate removed–a placebo. The dose was 250 ml per day, approximately a cup.
Blood pressure dropped in the folks getting the full-nitrate beet juice (8 points systolic). That’s even more than if they had been taking HCTZ (6.5 systolic).
The investigators wrote:
“We have demonstrated that the [beet juice] intervention is well tolerated, safe, and is associated with robust BP [blood pressure] reductions measured in and out of clinic.”
Other Studies on Beetroot Juice for Hypertension:
This study is by no means the only one. PubMed lists at least two dozen publications on the effects of this intervention. Most agree that beets’ high level of nitrate contributes to nitric oxide in the blood vessels (d’El-Rei et al, International Journal of Hypertension, online March 21, 2016; Omar et al, Journal of Internal Medicine, April 2016). Nitric oxide helps the lining of the blood vessels relax, and that lowers blood pressure. Raw beetroot juice appears to be slightly more effective than cooked beets (Asgary et al, Journal of Human Hypertension, Oct. 2016).
Who Benefits Most from Beet Juice?
The beneficial effects of beet juice on blood pressure is more noticeable in people with uncontrolled hypertension (Kerley et al, Irish Journal of Medical Science, online Jan. 3, 2017). That may help explain some inconsistencies in the medical literature (Bondonno et al, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Aug. 2015).
How Does Beet Juice Stack Up Against Other Natural Approaches:
A review in the Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Jan. 2018) reviewed a number of nondrug approaches to controlling blood pressure.
The authors describe their analysis:
“Worldwide, Hypertension is estimated to cause 7.5 million deaths, about 12.8% of the total of all deaths. This accounts for 57 million disability adjusted life years (DALYS) or 3.7% of total DALYS. This led WHO to set a target of 25% reduction in prevalence by 2025. To reach that, WHO has adopted non-conventional methods for the management of hypertension? Despite worldwide popularity of such non-conventional therapies, only small volume of evidence exists that supports its effectiveness. This review attempted to make a critical appraisal of the evidence, with the aim to (1) describe the therapeutic modalities frequently used, and (2) review the current level of evidence attributable to each modality.”
What did they find?
“The followings were found to have weak or no evidence: fish oil, yoga, vitamin D, monounsaturated fatty acid, dietary amino-acids, and osteopathy. Those found to have significant reduction in blood pressure are: magnesium, qigong, melatonin, meditation, vitamin C, chiropractic, folate, inorganic nitrate, beetroot juice [emphasis ours] and L-arginine.”
The authors concluded:
“Results from this review suggest that certain non-conventional therapies may be effective in treating hypertension and improving cardiac function and therefore considered as part of an evidence-based approach.”
Beets are not the only vegetables to help control hypertension. Greens such as arugula, lettuce or spinach can also be helpful. To learn more about other nondrug approaches as well as pharmaceuticals, you may wish to read our eGuide to Blood Pressure Solutions. This electronic resource is available in the Health eGuides section of this website.
Beet Juice Lemonade!
We recently had the chance to taste low-sugar lemonade with beet juice in it. It was a beautiful ruby color and it tasted delicious! Some people find the sweet taste of beet juice off-putting. The lemons counteract that flavor.
A simple way to do this would be to add 1 cup of beet juice to 8 cups of your favorite lemonade. That, however, might be too sweet. Here is our do-it-yourself approach:
- Put 1 small to medium-sized peeled chopped beet in a blender with 3 T water.
- Dissolve 1/2 cup sugar in 6 cups of water. Do this in a pan on a stove over medium heat. Let the sugar solution cool completely.
- Squeeze the juice from 3 lemons. Add it to the sugar solution.
- Strain the blended beet juice into the lemonade solution. Chill before serving.
This recipe can also be found in our eGuide to Blood Pressure Solutions.