BEAT HYPERTENSION WITH BEETS

Do you ever include Beets in your diet? If not, its time you do. Beets are not only good for your food but also for your health as well. Initially cultivated in the Roman empire, Beta vulgaris rubra commonly known as beet was once considered an herb. Together with Sugar beets, they belong to the same family, Amaranthaceae. They are both known for their taproots and their edible leaves. However, they are genetically and nutritionally different. Unlike Sugar beets which are white in color, beet roots are red and cannot have sugar extracted from them.  Beetroot has gained much popularity worldwide and is consumed regularly as part of the normal diet and in manufacture of food coloring agents. Recent interest into this purple root has been driven by the discovery of its potential health benefits and utilization as a natural remedy. It has been recommended for treatment of a myriad of health conditions from osteoporosis, diabetes, and anemia to treatment of high blood pressure. High blood pressure has been the target of many therapeutic interventions. Numerous studies have set to explore the antihypertensive effects of beetroot extracts with the majority reporting a significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Some studies have even suggested that beets could be as effective as prescription drugs in the management of high blood pressures. In this article, we will explore beetroot’s biological potential as a natural remedy especially in the treatment of high blood pressure.

HOW BEET LOWERS HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE:

Are you curious as to how this purple root lowers high blood pressure? Well, here’s how:

Beet extracts contain a wide range of minerals such as potassium, sodium, manganese, iron, and vitamin C. They are also a rich source of phytochemical compounds including flavonoids, phenolic acids, ascorbic acid, and carotenoids. However, its effect on the cardiovascular system is largely due to its high inorganic nitrate content. Nitrate itself does not mediate any specific physiological function; rather, its beneficial effects are attributed to its reduction to a gas known as nitric oxide (NO). Upon ingestion of the beet extracts, nitrate is absorbed through the upper part of the small intestine into the systemic circulation. Approximately 20% of the circulating nitrates enter the entero-salivary cycle where it is reduced to salivary nitrite by bacteria located at the posterior aspect of the tongue. The salivary nitrite, through the stomach, is again absorbed in the systemic circulation where it is reduced to nitric oxide and other nitrogen oxides. NO is a multifarious cell-signaling messenger which has a powerful relaxing effect on blood vessel walls which causes the blood vessels to dilate resulting in a fall in circulation resistance thus a fall in blood pressure.

NON-ANTI-HYPERTENSIVE EFFECTS OF BEETS:

Aside from its effects in lowering blood pressure, Beetroot extracts have been proven to have several other benefits. These include:

Powerful Antioxidant Effects: –

In addition to minerals and phytochemicals, Beetroot also contains antioxidant compounds. One such compound is Betalain pigment. A potent antioxidant that aids in the treatment of a range of clinical diseases associated with oxidative stress and inflammation. Under normal circumstances, cellular environment is in a state of redox balance with continuous generation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS) in cellular metabolism. RONS play key roles in several processes such as gene expression. However, when cells are overexposed to RONS the state of redox balance is overwhelmed leading to oxidative stress. Thus, consumption of beetroot protects genetic material from oxidative damage.

Beetroot Boosts Athletic Performance.

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reported that consumption of nitrate-rich beetroot supplements improves the running performance in healthy adults. It suggested that beetroot extracts increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. It also reduces the amount of oxygen that required by muscles to facilitate optimal functioning of muscles. Therefore, beetroot supplementation provides an increase in energy, performance, stamina and helps in lowering High Blood Pressure.

Beetroot as a Detoxifier.

Beetroot helps cleanse the body of heavy metals and toxins. This is attributed to its constituent compound called glutathiones. In addition to that, the fiber content of beets sweeps the gastrointestinal tract of waste and toxins while restoring healthy and regular bowel movements.

Beetroot and Diabetes.

Beets contain alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant, that has been shown to lower glucose levels while increasing insulin sensitivity in diabetic patients. Recent studies have shown that alpha-lipoic acid can be extremely beneficial for patients with diabetic neuropathy.

HOW EFFECTIVE ARE BEETS IN LOWERING BLOOD PRESSURE?

Researchers at Queen Mary University in London (UK) set out to investigate the effectiveness of Beets in lowering high blood pressure. They conducted a couple of studies. The most recent one involved 64 individuals whom they divided in 2 groups. The first group was given one cup each (about 250ml or 8 ounces) of juice made from beet extracts for four weeks while the second group was given a placebo drink. Those drinking the beet juice had their blood pressure lowered by an average of 8/4 mmHg (systolic/diastolic) while those who took the placebo had no significant changes. The study also reported that the blood vessels of the individuals in the first group were able to dilate more readily compared to the other 32 people in the second group.

Another research conducted at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia found that a cup of beetroot juice lowered systolic blood pressure by 4-5 mmHg in healthy men within a few hours of their drinking it.

So, take beetroot extracts regularly to reduce and maintain blood pressure to healthy levels. Beets have proven to have only mild side effects one being a temporary red discoloration of urine. This can look dramatic, but is harmless, so don’t worry if you notice this effect. It is however important that you consult your doctor before you can make any changes to your antihypertensive regimen.

REFERENCES:

Coles, L. and Clifton, P. (2012). Effect of beetroot juice on lowering blood pressure in free-living, disease-free adults: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Nutrition Journal, 11(1).

Clifford, T., Howatson, G., West, D. and Stevenson, E. (2015). The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease. Nutrients, [online] 7(12), pp.2801-2822. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425174/ [Accessed 10 Mar. 2018].

Webb, A., Patel, N., Loukogeorgakis, S., Okorie, M., Aboud, Z., Misra, S., Rashid, R., Miall, P., Deanfield, J., Benjamin, N., MacAllister, R., Hobbs, A. and Ahluwalia, A. (2008). Acute Blood Pressure Lowering, Vasoprotective, and Antiplatelet Properties of Dietary Nitrate via Bioconversion to Nitrite. Hypertension, 51(3), pp.784-790.