In a finding that could have major implications for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, researchers say that just 500ml of beetroot juice a day can significantly reduce blood pressure. Writing in the journal Hypertension, the UK researchers explained that it is the ingestion of dietary nitrate contained within beetroot juice - and similarly in green, leafy vegetables - which results ultimately in decreased blood pressure. Previously the protective effects of vegetable-rich diets had been attributed to their antioxidant vitamin content.
Lead researcher, Professor Amrita Ahluwalia, found that in healthy volunteers blood pressure was reduced within just 1 hour of ingesting beetroot juice, with a peak drop occurring 3-4 hours after ingestion. Some degree of reduction continued to be observed until up to 24 hours after ingestion. Researchers showed that the decrease in blood pressure was due to the chemical formation of nitrite from the dietary nitrate in the juice.
More than 25 per cent of the world's adult population are hypertensive, and it has been estimated that this figure will increase to 29 per cent by 2025. In addition, hypertension causes around 50 per cent of coronary heart disease, and approximately 75 per cent of strokes. In demonstrating that nitrate is likely to underlie the cardio-protective effect of a vegetable-rich diet, the research highlights the potential of a natural, low cost approach for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
"Our research suggests that drinking beetroot juice, or consuming other nitrate-rich vegetables, might be a simple way to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, and might also be an additional approach that one could take in the modern day battle against rising blood pressure," concluded Professor Ahluwalia.
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Source: University of London