Thursday, February 07, 2008

Beets : Gluten-Free Blood-Pressure Treatment

Yes, you read the heading correctly! Beets can reduce blood pressure, or so says a study just released by The London School of Medicine. Those lovely deep-red root vegetables that seem actually rather uncommon on most American household menus, now turn out to hold the promise of a dietary blood-pressure control option.

Beets are one of those gluten-free and wheat-free foods we can all enjoy in our diets (well, "enjoy" in that they are safe for Celiac and gluten-free / wheat-free people - as for enjoying the taste, that's up to you). And now, perhaps we can also consume them with the intention of lowering our blood pressure. Here's a summary of what the study found:
  • 500ml of beetroot juice a day can significantly reduce blood pressure
  • blood pressure was reduced within just 1 hour of ingesting beetroot juice
  • a peak drop occurs 3-4 hours after ingestion.
  • Some reduction was observable up to 24 hours after ingestion.
Now, don't think about taking beet extract in pill-form or something, because a vital component of the protective effect of beet-juice is generated by the interaction of the nitrates in the juice with your saliva (meaning, it has to pass through your mouth) which helps convert it to a nitrite (notice the spelling difference) that ends up having protective, a BP-Lowering impact. Thus, you'll have to either eat your beets or drink your beet-juice to get the benefit as best as I can tell.

I always find this type of study interesting, and I am always especially pleased when the item of interest is also gluten-free / wheat-free, since all of us can enjoy the benefit! Quite honestly, I don't think I'm going to run out and buy a pile of beets, but if I had high blood pressure I'd certainly be inclined to try it before going on prescription medications. Don't get me wrong: I like beets, and I really enjoyed them when I was young (not sure why, but I just don't think about them much now, but perhaps my diet will include them more often going forward).

Half a liter of beet juice a day? Sure, why not? Call it a new Sports Drink (gluten-free of course) and market it to the masses -- perhaps add a bit of caffeine to the mix, and it becomes the new Deep-Red Bull. lol. If you want to read more details of the study, here's a link to Study on Beet-Juice lowering Blood-Pressure.


Dianne said...

Nice post Mike! Thankfully my blood pressure is ok! Beetroot is cool, but every day, to reduce blood pressure!!!!!

I'll continue with the exercise I think!

D :)

celticjig said...

I don't think I can do it. I want to love beets but can't. I can't even like them, in fact I hate them. Why do they have to be so healthy? I was just thinking, maybe they will make a pill and then read the next line of your blog.....Maybe white beets aren't as bad.....if I could press their juice and mix it with vodka, I might consider trying it!

C.L.J. said...

I have always hated beets, but it might be a matter of preparation; my mother tended to boil vegetables until they were soft. And I know that the beets always came from a can.

So how about some good beet recipes? You post'em, I'll try 'em.

mle said...

Beets are great when roasted in the oven with some rosemary. Serve warm with some goat cheese - a real treat :) As for beet juice, great when mixed with carrot juice. But I ask, can anyone's digestion handle that much beet juice every day???? LOL

Anonymous said...

For a delightful account of the nutritional value of beets-their many many medicinal uses, what antioxidant the beetroot has in common with a prickly pear cactus, how it aids in combatting depression, and its use as an aphrodisiac, you may want to check out Stephen Nottingham's report on Beetroot at
P.S. I love the taste of beetroots and their nutritional leaves in my juice drinks.

Gracefuleigh said...

Dianne...I excercise a lot being a professional swimmer...and the doctors cannot figure out why my bp is so incredibly high...readings of 183/112 consecutively. BUT I am going to try this beetjuice thing. What if I don't have a blender. I'll need to get something...a juicer perhaps...any recommmendations? p.s. I've found that beetjuice is more doable with apples to sweeten it up!

Mike Eberhart said...

Were you really directing that question to "Diane", or to me (Mike, the blog writer?)

Well, either way, good luck with the BP situation. That number sure is a high, especially for someone as active as you (professional swimmer). I presume those numbers were taken "at rest" (vs. right after swimming intensely or such)?

I hope the beet juice thing helps, as the study suggested it may. But, I also hope that your doctors can find the ROOT CAUSE of your high BP. Have they ruled out things like sleep-apnea? (that can cause high BP in otherwise "healthy" people with very little other symptoms; I had a friend experience this same situation). Presumably you have had things like your thyroid checked, etc.? Well, good luck, and I hope you get some results one way or another.

Anonymous said...

Hyperaldosteronism (adrenal glands producing too much aldosteronism) caused my high bp and low potassium. I was taking 2 bp meds a day. (spironolactone) when I went gluten free my bp started to drop and I haven't taken ant bp meds for 3 months!