According to statistics published by the American Heart Association about 80 million Americans suffer from a type of cardiovascular disease. The primary type is high blood pressure (hypertension), a precursor for heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease. Hypertension can be deadly. The disease is commonly treated through healthy nutrition, lifestyle changes, exercise, and if all else fails, blood pressure medication. New research now provides patients with a natural alternative, beetroot juice. Scientists at Barts and The London School of Medicine under the lead of Professor Amrita Ahluwalia determined that a daily dose of 500ml of beetroot juice significantly reduced blood pressure. This discovery has the potential to revolutionize cardiovascular disease treatments.
With about 73 million Americans suffering knowingly or unknowingly from high blood pressure, diagnosis and treatment of the disease is a high priority. Without treatment the risk of having a stroke or heart attack is greatly increased. With obesity on the rise, the number of hypertension patients will undoubtedly increase. Since people suffering from high blood pressure are often unaware of their condition, hypertension has also been dubbed the ‘silent killer’. Therefore, scientists have made it a priority to find novel ways to treat or even prevent the disease.
Blood pressure is measured with sphygmomanometer, which essentially measures the force of the blood flow against the walls of the artery. While it is normal for the blood pressure to rise and fall throughout a day, consistently high blood pressure (hypertension) is cause for concern.
If lifestyle changes (no alcohol and cigarettes), exercise, and healthy diet, don’t yield results, physicians usually turn to drugs to treat the condition. Such drugs include diuretics, beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin antagonists, calcium channel blockers, alpha-blockers, alpha-beta-blockers, nervous system inhibitors, and vasodilators. Yet, the long-term impact of any drug regimen has yet to thoroughly analyzed and side effects can sometimes be severe or lead to other conditions. Furthermore, a regular drug regimen can be costly and something especially the elderly cannot always afford.
Therefore, many scientists have been looking for natural alternatives and try to find ‘new’ healing methods by studying ancient healing methods and herbs. Such treatment methods are usually cheaper but as effective.
The scientists at Barts and The London School of Medicine under the lead of Professor Amrita Ahluwalia decided to study the healing effects of beetroot juice. The scientists were able to observe a significant reduction in high blood pressure in their study participants.
Beetroot juice is high in nitrate, as are green, leafy vegetables. This compound causes the blood pressure reduction. The saliva and bacteria in the mouth convert the nitrate into nitrite, which, once it has reached the stomach is converted to nitric oxide or enters the circulation as nitrite. Healthy study participants showed reduced blood pressure levels within an hour of drinking the juice. The reduction effect seems to peek around three to four hours after consuming the juice, but the results can last to some degree for up to twenty-four hours. At the peak of the blood pressure reduction process, the scientists were able to measure a corresponding peak in nitrite in the blood. The control group of study volunteers did not show such a peak. This group refrained from swallowing their saliva during and for three hours after consuming the beetroot juice.
The results of the study could offer an effective and cheaper alternative to blood pressure lowering medications. A diet high in nitrate-rich vegetables and a drinking the beetroot juice may just be all a patient needs to achieve and maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
This is definitely another reason for parents to encourage their children to eat those vegetables!