A cup of beetroot juice a day may help reduce your blood pressure, according to a small study published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.
According to researchers from Barts Health NHS Trust and the London Medical School, high blood pressure patients who volunteered to drink 250ml of beetroot juice daily registered a drop of 10mm of mercury (mmHg).
A previous study involving participants with normal blood pressure, three years ago, also suggested there could be health benefits to drinking juice that contains nitrate -- a chemical that reduces blood pressure.
However, in a statement, lead author of the study Dr Amrita Ahluwalia pointed out that those more at risk of a stroke or heart disease, caused by high blood pressure, may also benefit.
“We were surprised by how little nitrate was needed to see such a large effect,” Ahluwalia said.
“This study shows that compared to individuals with healthy blood pressure much less nitrate is needed to produce the kinds of decreases in blood pressure that might provide clinical benefits in people who need to lower their blood pressure.
"However, we are still uncertain as to whether this effect is maintained in the long term.”
In a statement, researchers highlighted that Beetroot juice contains dietary nitrate, which may help relax blood vessel walls and improve blood flow.
Increasing intake of foods rich in dietary nitrate may be an affordable and attainable way to manage blood pressure, they added.
“Our hope is that increasing one’s intake of vegetables with a high dietary nitrate content, such as green leafy vegetables or beetroot, might be a lifestyle approach that one could easily employ to improve cardiovascular health,” said Ahluwalia.
Have you considered these other ways to lower your blood pressure?
How To Lower Your Blood Pressure
According to the <a href="http://www.who.int/en/" target="_hplink">World Health Organisation</a> (WHO) the eight key risk factors (alcohol use, tobacco use, high blood pressure, high body mass index, high choles terol, high blood glucose, low fruit and vegetable intake, and physical inactivity) account for 61% of all cardiovascular deaths and over three quarters of all coronary heart disease. "Changing your diet and lifestyle can help to achieve a significant drop in your blood pressure levels, whether or not you are taking tablets," says Linda Main, Dietician for <a href="http://www.heartuk.org.uk/" target="_hplink"><strong>HEART UK</strong></a>. Take a look at the simple lifestyle changes you can make today to help lower blood pressure and maintain a healthy heart.
Drink alcohol in moderation. No more than 3 to 4 daily units a day for men and no more than 2 to 3 units for women.
Follow the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan. Based on research findings which show that a diet low in saturated fat and salt, but high in fruit and vegetables, wholegrain foods and low fat dairy foods, can significantly lower blood pressure within two weeks. It is rich in nutrients such as potassium, calcium, magnesium and fibre.
Meditation can help maintain a calm and focused mind, but one side benefit of that relaxation could also help with blood pressure. When relaxed, the body produces more nitric oxide, <a href="http://www.npr.org/2008/08/21/93796200/to-lower-blood-pressure-open-up-and-say-om">which in turn helps blood vessels to open up, reducing the pressure of the blood flowing through</a>.
Adopt A Pet
Research shows that <a href="http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/5-ways-pets-improve-your-health">pet owners have lower blood pressure</a> (also: lower cholesterol and heart disease risk), thanks to the anxiety-reducing qualities of an animal companion.
Work On Your Marriage
In one 2008 study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500368_162-3955956.html">researchers found that happily married adults had better blood pressure</a> than happily single and unhappily married adults.
This one's a no-brainer, but exercise is one of the best ways to lower blood pressure. There are many ways that the simple act of moderate exercise can improve your blood pressure (and overall health). First, it helps with other risk factors for hypertension, like extra weight and stress. But exercise also improves the strength of your heart so that <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-pressure/HI00024">it can more effectively and efficiently pump blood, which lowers the pressure on the arteries</a>.
Stick To One Or Two Drinks
Moderate drinking -- one drink for women and men over 65 and two drinks for younger men -- can actually help reduce blood pressure. <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-pressure/HI00027">But more than that has the opposite effect</a>, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Monitor Your Caffeine
There is some evidence that caffeine can temporarily increase blood pressure, though it's unclear if there is a long-term effect. The <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-pressure/HI00027/NSECTIONGROUP=2">Mayo Clinic recommends</a> checking blood pressure 30 minutes after a cup of coffee or caffeinated soda to see if the effect remains.
Quit Smoking -- And Smokers
Of course, for this and many other reasons, you should quit smoking. But even second-hand smoke can have a damaging effect on your blood pressure <a href="http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/UnderstandYourRiskforHighBloodPressure/Understand-Your-Risk-for-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_002052_Article.jsp">because it damages arteries</a>.
Choose Pressure-Lowering Foods
Several foods have been found to naturally lower blood pressure. Things like chili peppers, chocolate, beans and bananas have all been proven to lower blood pressure in humans or in trials with rats. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/28/raisins-and-7-other-foods-lower-blood-pressure_n_1382535.html#slide=817449">Read on for more here</a>.
Keep Weight Under Control
Eating well is essential to maintaining healthy blood pressure, but even if you live on <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/28/raisins-and-7-other-foods-lower-blood-pressure_n_1382535.html#slide=817449">beans and bananas</a>, extra pounds could harm you. In fact, one Italian study found that <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070928180348.htm">hypertension in overweight patients was a secondary condition, caused by the excess weight</a>. In other words, once the weight was lost, the high blood pressure went with it.
Stay Away From Salt
Perhaps the best known advice for healthy blood pressure is maintaining a low sodium diet. Follow the <a href="http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/faq.asp">USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans</a>: a max of 2,300 mg of sodium for healthy, young adults -- or 1,500 mg a day or fewer for those who are over 50, African-American or suffering from diabetes or chronic kidney disease.