Researchers from Queen Mary University, UK, found that drinking beetroot juice can lower blood pressure while improving vascular (blood vessel) function. For this reason they suggest a daily dose of beetroot juice or other nitrate-rich green leafy vegetables, “can be as effective as medical intervention in reducing blood pressure”.
In the study, published on Hypertension journal,they assessed whether dietary nitrate might provide sustained BP lowering in patients with hypertension. They randomly assigned 68 patients with hypertension in a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to receive daily dietary supplementation for 4 weeks with either dietary nitrate (250 mL daily, as beetroot juice) or a placebo (250 mL daily, as nitrate-free beetroot juice) after a 2-week run-in period and followed by a 2-week washout.
The researchers performed stratified randomization of drug-naive (n=34) and treated (n=34) patients with hypertension aged 18 to 85 years. The primary end point was change in clinic, ambulatory, and home BP compared with placebo. Daily supplementation with dietary nitrate was associated with reduction in BP measured by 3 different methods. Mean (95% confidence interval) reduction in clinic BP was 7.7/2.4 mm Hg (3.6–11.8/0.0–4.9, P<0.001 and P=0.050). Twenty-four-hour ambulatory BP was reduced by 7.7/5.2 mm Hg (4.1–11.2/2.7–7.7, P<0.001 for both). Home BP was reduced by 8.1/3.8 mm Hg (3.8–12.4/0.7–6.9, P<0.001 and P<0.01) with no evidence of tachyphylaxis over the 4-week intervention period. Endothelial function improved by ≈20% (P<0.001), and arterial stiffness was reduced by 0.59 m/s (0.24–0.93; P<0.01) after dietary nitrate consumption with no change after placebo. The intervention was well tolerated.
This is the first evidence of durable BP reduction with dietary nitrate supplementation in a relevant patient group. These findings suggest a role for dietary nitrate as an affordable, readily-available, adjunctive treatment in the management of patients with hypertension (funded by The British Heart Foundation).