The vegetable juice’s nitrate content may help relax blood vessels, and new data from the Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute in Melbourne indicated that six hours after consumption a decrease in systolic blood pressure of around 5 mmHg was observed.
“A reduction in systolic blood pressure in the magnitude of 5 mmHg has been correlated to a cardiovascular mortality reduction of approximately 10 % at the population level,” wrote Leah Coles and Peter Clifton in the Nutrition Journal .
The potential cardiovascular benefits of beetroot have been reported previously, with reductions in blood pressure up to 16 mmHg reported in some studies .
The new study supports the potential benefits of the juice as part of a normal diet in free-living adults.
Coles and Clifton recruited 15 women and 15 men and randomly assigned them to receive 500 g of beetroot and apple juice or a placebo juice. Blood pressure was then monitored every hour for 24 hours. Two weeks after this initial visit the researchers repeated the experiment but gave the participants the drink not consumed previously.
Results showed that, for all the participants, there was a trend towards lower systolic blood pressure six hours after drinking the beetroot juice, compared to placebo. However, this was not statistically significant, they noted.
When the data was analyzed by gender, the researchers found that men experienced a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure of 4 to 5 mmHg.
“The volunteers used here were healthy, but unlike a number of other studies, they included both genders, a broad age range (23–68 years) and exhibited higher baseline blood pressure values (mean 132/81 ± 1.6/1.2 mmHg),” said the researchers.
“The results presented here are therefore more generalizable to the population as a whole in Western countries, especially given the free-living nature of the study.
“Using an even larger group of volunteers, with different characteristics (e.g. on average, lower / higher BMI or age) would be further beneficial, as the group studied here were on average middle-aged and slightly overweight.”
Source: Nutrition Journal
2012, 11:106 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-106
“Effect of beetroot juice on lowering blood pressure in free-living, disease-free adults: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial”
Authors: L.T. Coles, P.M. Clifton