High blood pressure? Eat more beetroot – or chocolate – or garlic!

July 14, 2010

Before you succumb to medication for high blood pressure there are a number of things you can try to bring it down naturally. The two best-known, and most frequently recommended are to lose weight and take more exercise. Now we can add a third element and that is the humble beetroot, which according to research from Queen Mary University of London can indeed lower your blood pressure.

It seems that the reason it can do this is down to the nitrate content of beetroot juice, according to the study, published online in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension. Their study found that blood pressure was lowered within 24 hours in people who took nitrate tablets, and people who drank beetroot juice.

Cardiovascular disease (including stroke and heart attacks) now ranks as the world’s biggest killer and those seeking a natural approach to lowering blood pressure just need to get out their juicer. The nitrate found in beetroot juice is beneficial because it increases the levels of the gas nitric oxide in the circulation.

Whether the volunteers in the study were given inorganic nitrate capsules or beetroot juice when their blood pressure responses were compared they were found to be equally effective in lowering blood pressure. This clearly demonstrates that it is the nitrate content of beetroot juice that underlies its potential to reduce blood pressure.

If you’re not a particular fan of beetroot, then take heart from because the study 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.

In fact if you prefer you might want to pay attention to some new research which shows that just a small amount of chocolate a day can help in reducing high blood pressure in individuals suffering from hypertension. Naturally, it has to be a good quality dark chocolate containing 70% cocoa as that is rich in flavanols, which open up your blood vessels to help the blood flow more freely and so causing the pressure to drop.

Dr. Karin Ried from the University of Adelaide, Australia carried out the study and is also the one that in 2008 conducted a study which found that garlic extract has a significant beneficial effect for high blood pressure sufferers. In Brighton, where I live, there is a chocolate shop which has all kinds of wonderful combination, chilli chocolate being just one of them, but I don’t think I’ve seen a garlic one yet. Perhaps I could suggest a beetroot and garlic combo so you could get all those blood pressure lowering ingredients in one delicious bar!


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