Researchers have known for some time that juice may help lower blood pressure, but in 2010 UK researchers revealed that nitrate is the special ingredient in beetroot which lowers blood pressure and may help to fight heart disease.
In a Queen Mary University of London study, healthy participants had to drink a glass of beetroot juice while others had a dummy (placebo) drink. Others took nitrate tablets.
Blood pressure was lowered within 24 hours in people who took nitrate tablets and those who drank beetroot juice.
The researchers admitted to BootsWebMD that beetroot juice is a love it or hate it kind of drink, but found people in the study didn’t mind it so much when they were drinking it every day.
People with very high blood pressure can end up being on multiple tablets, so a more natural approach could prove popular if the initial research results are confirmed.
Beetroot for the brain and dementia
Drinking beetroot juice increases blood flow to the brain in older people, which may be able to fight the progression of dementia, a 2010 study suggested.
Beetroot contains high concentrations of nitrates, which are converted into nitrites by bacteria in the mouth. Nitrites help open blood vessels in the body, increasing blood flow and oxygen to places lacking in oxygen.
Previous studies have shown that nitrites widen blood vessels, but US researchers writing in Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry, the peer-reviewed journal of the Nitric Oxide Society, say theirs was the first to find that nitrites also increase blood flow to the brain