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Can Beet Juice Really Lower High Blood Pressure?

Drinking beet root juice may help lower high blood pressure, along with other non-drug approaches to control hypertension.
Can Beet Juice Really Lower High Blood Pressure?
Beet juice

If you have hypertension, your doctor has probably prescribed medicine to lower high blood pressure. You may have gone through quite an extensive period of trial and error to find a drug that works without causing unacceptable side effects. As a result, you might be wondering whether there are foods that could help against hypertension The good news: the answer is yes.

Difficulty Trying to Lower High Blood Pressure:

Q. I have been dealing with hypertension for years. When I am under stress, my blood pressure goes up to around 150.

My doctor has prescribed lots of different drugs with mixed results. Atenolol caused fatigue and depression. Amlodipine made me dizzy to the point I couldn’t function. Lisinopril caused a horrible cough. Now I am on Diovan with no problems, but I read recently that drugs like this are linked to cancer.

I am ready to try a more natural approach. I heard that beets can lower high blood pressure. How effective are they and what else might help?

Concerns About Blood Pressure Pills:

A. An article in Lancet Oncology (July, 2010) has raised questions about the safety of drugs like Atacand, Diovan and Micardis. The investigators analyzed many scientific studies and concluded that such drugs “are associated with a modestly increased risk of new cancer occurrence.” Drug regulators and clinicians don’t know what to make of this information.

That confusion has intensified since the research was published. More recent studies show that patients taking such drugs are actually less likely to die early of pancreatic cancer (World Journal of Surgery, Sep. 2017). A similar drug, losartan, appears to protect mice from breast cancer (Oncotarget, March 21, 2017). Drugs in this category of angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBS) also seem to provide some protection against prostate cancer (Woo & Jung, Oncology Letters, May 2017). As a result, doctors don’t want to blame these medicines for causing cancer.

Beet Root Juice for High Blood Pressure:

An article published in the journal Hypertension (Sep. 2010) suggests that about 8.5 ounces of beet juice can significantly lower systolic blood pressure. Since then, there have been numerous other studies of how beet root juice affects blood pressure. One placebo-controlled trial confirmed that this juice can reduce sphygmomanometer readings even in healthy adults (Coles & Clifton, Nutrition Journal, Dec. 11, 2012). Another study showed that older overweight people drinking beet root juice had lower systolic values in their daily measurements (Jajja et al, Nutrition Research, Oct. 2014). A daily cup of beet root juice reduced blood pressure and kept it down for a month in a placebo-controlled trial including volunteers with untreated hypertension (Kapil et al, Hypertension, Feb. 2015).

Will Bottled Beet Juice or Canned Beets Help?

Q. I was going to buy some fresh beet juice from the refrigerated section of our supermarket because I read that it could be helpful for high blood pressure. However, the label warned that it was not pasteurized and could be unsafe for the elderly.

I don’t want to take a chance. Would canned beets or juice be useful for lowering blood pressure?

A. Most of the studies demonstrating that high-nitrate beet juice can help control hypertension provided participants with bottled beet juice rather than fresh. According to the Cleveland Clinic, canned beets are great, too. Look for cans with no added salt if possible, since salt added in canning might raise blood pressure for some people.

People Who Have Had Kidney Stones Should Exercise Caution:

One other precaution: those who have suffered kidney stones will want to be cautious about consuming beets or juice. This root vegetable is rich in oxalates that can raise the risk of this painful complication.

Beet Juice No Substitute for Medical Care to Lower High Blood Pressure:

Of course, beet juice shouldn’t be used for blood pressure control without medical supervision. One study shows that people who keep their blood pressure under control with medication may not get additional help from drinking beet root juice (Kerley et al, Irish Journal of Medical Science, Nov. 2017). Exercise may also lower high blood pressure enough to mask the benefit of beet root juice (Shaltout et al, Nitric Oxide, online May 23, 2017).

Still, drinking beet root juice, exercising, practicing slow breathing and other non-drug alternatives should help your effort to control hypertension. Our eGuide to Blood Pressure Treatment offers more information about beet and pomegranate juice plus other non-drug approaches to controlling hypertension.

Have you tried using beet juice to lower your blood pressure? Have you tried other ways to lower high blood pressure? We’d love to hear your stories. Share them in the comment section below.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
Citations
  • Cerullo M et al, "Impact of angiotensin receptor blocker use on overall survival among patients undergoing resection for pancreatic cancer." World Journal of Surgery, Sep. 2017. DOI: 10.1007/s00268-017-4021-8
  • Coulson R et al, "The angiotensin receptor blocker, Losartan, inhibits mammary tumor development and progression to invasive carcinoma." Oncotarget, March 21, 2017. DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.15553
  • Woo Y & Jung Y-J, "Angiotensin II receptor blockers induce autophagy in prostate cancer cells." Oncology Letters, May 2017. DOI: 10.3892/ol.2017.5872
  • Kapil V et al, "Inorganic nitrate supplementation lowers blood pressure in humans: role for nitrite-derived NO." Hypertension, Sep. 2010. DOI: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.110.153536
  • Kerley CP et al, "Nitrate-rich beetroot juice selectively lowers ambulatory pressures and LDL cholesterol in uncontrolled but not controlled hypertension: a pilot study." Irish Journal of Medical Science, Nov. 2017. DOI: 10.1007/s11845-016-1551-2
  • Shaltout HA et al, "Effects of supervised exercise and dietary nitrate in older adults with controlled hypertension and/or heart failure with preserved ejection fraction." Nitric Oxide, Sep. 30, 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.niox.2017.05.005
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