We have been writing about the research showing that beet juice can relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure for quite some time. (You can read our first report here; the research was published in the journal Hypertension in March, 2008.) There are currently 20 articles listed in PubMed on this topic, but none on a topic of interest to many readers: erectile dysfunction.
Beets for Better Sex:
Q. I read your article in my paper titled “Beets may boost benefits from Viagra.” I’d love to try it.
However, nothing was mentioned about how much beet juice to take and how long one should take it before having sex. Any suggestions?
A. The woman who wrote to us about her husband’s use of beet juice to enhance the effect of sildenafil (Viagra) implied that eating beets or drinking a glass (6 to 8 oz) of beet juice the day prior to sexual activity would improve the effectiveness of the drug and make for better sex. We suspect you’d need to eat at least three beets to get the equivalent of one glass of juice.
Keep in mind that both beets and beet juice may color urine and stool. This can look scary if you forget that this is a normal reaction to eating beets.
Blood pressure may drop a bit, however, so caution might be appropriate for people who are taking antihypertensive medication. The most recent research suggests that beet juice doesn’t lower blood pressure further for people taking medication for hypertension (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Aug., 2015), but it makes sense to be careful.
Beets may not be the only vegetables that might help lower blood pressure as part of the diet (Current Hypertension Reports, Jan., 2016). Beet greens might be better than beet roots, and arugula and rhubarb are apparently also rich in nitrate. Swiss chard is a contender, and presumably spinach and other greens, including dark-colored salad greens (not iceberg lettuce), can also contribute to healthy nitrate intake.
By the way, cacao flavanols in cocoa or chocolate can also get the blood vessel linings to relax, and by pretty much the same mechanism. So should your sweetie enjoy a bit of extra-dark chocolate before taking his Viagra on Valentine’s Day? We have no idea.