If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may be concerned about having to take medication. One way or another, it is imperative that you get high blood pressure down into the normal range. High blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. This is because high blood pressure hardens the lining of the arteries, causing them to be stiff and narrow over time. The narrowing allows fatty plaque to build up, choking the artery and potentially leading to a heart attack or stroke.
Fortunately, lifestyle intervention can often reverse high blood pressure. For example, cutting back on salt is a dietary lifestyle change that helps to reduce high blood pressure. But did you know that you can also reduce high blood pressure by eating specific types of foods?
A 2015 study by the Queen Mary University in London found that drinking beetroot juice lowered blood pressure as good as medication without any side effects. In the double-blind Phase 2 clinical trial, published in the journal Hypertension, subjects drank 250 ml (which is equivalent to one of those mini soda cans) of beetroot juice daily for 30 days. At the end of the thirty days, the group that drank beetroot juice saw an average decrease in blood pressure of 8/4 mmHG—a significant drop that in most cases, brought their blood pressure into the normal range. Considering that an average drop for a single anti-hypertension drug is 9/5 mmHG, beetroot juice should be considered as an easy, affordable treatment for high blood pressure.
Professor Amrita Ahluwalia, lead author of the study states: “Diseases of the heart and blood vessels – which can cause heart attacks and strokes – remain the biggest cause of death worldwide. However, unlike some other serious illnesses, we are fortunate in that we can make certain lifestyle changes which dramatically improve our heart and blood vessel health. This research has proven that a daily inorganic nitrate dose can be as effective as medical intervention in reducing blood pressure and the best part is we can get it from beetroot and other leafy green vegetables.”
That’s right. What makes beetroot juice so effective are nitrates which are found in high quantities in beetroot. Not only beetroot, but nitrates can be found in most green leafy vegetables such as kale and cabbage. Nitrates are water soluble so it’s best not to boil the vegetables but to eat them raw, lightly steamed, juiced or in a smoothie.
In addition, potassium (found in bananas, oranges and most fresh fruit and veggies) aids the body in ridding itself of sodium. So, work more potassium into your diet. Regular exercise has also been shown to reduce blood pressure so if you’re not already, make sure you exercise regularly.
Professor Ahluwalia, concludes: “This research has proven that a daily inorganic nitrate dose can be as effective as medical intervention in reducing blood pressure and the best part is we can get it from beetroot and other leafy green vegetables.”