The vegetable beetroot has many powerful health benefits. It is a powerful cancer-fighter and also helps to reduce inflammation, due to the beneficial pigments it contains, which also give beetroot its rich, red color.
Researchers have now found another potent health benefit of this vegetable - from drinking its juice. This bright red juice contains the chemical nitrate, which dramatically reduces blood pressure, cutting the risk of heart disease and strokes.
They found that the two methods were equally successful in reducing blood pressure.
The researchers concluded that the nitrates which naturally occur in beetroot are the cause of its beneficial effects. These produce a gas known as nitric oxide in the blood which widens blood vessels and arteries and lowers blood pressure.
One of the study authors said:
"We showed that beetroot and nitrate capsules are equally effective in lowering blood pressure indicating that it is the nitrate content of beetroot juice that underlies its potential to reduce blood pressure.
"We also found that only a small amount of juice is needed - just 250ml - to have this effect, and that the higher the blood pressure at the start of the study the greater the decrease caused by the nitrate.
A previous study has already showed how drinking beetroot juice can boost stamina. Last year researchers from the University of Exeter and Peninsula Medical School found that healthy young men were able to increase their stamina by up to 16 per cent, helping them to exercise for up to 16% longer, after drinking a glass of beetroot juice for a week.
Research Paper Details:
Kapil V, Milsom AB, Okorie M, et al. Inorganic Nitrate Supplementation Lowers blood pressure in Humans. Role for Nitrite-Derived NO. Hypertension, 2010.