Vegetables rich in nitrates could be a good choice for people with high blood pressure, a study funded by the British Heart Foundation has shown.
The study, published in the journal Hypertension, reveals that drinking a 250ml (8oz) cup of beetroot juice cut high blood pressure readings by 10mm of mercury (mmHg) in a study of 15 patients, bringing some into the normal range.
Most marked after three to six hours, the effect was detectable a day later.
Scientists say the nitrate in green leafy vegetables and beetroot widens blood vessels to aid flow and many people with angina use a nitrate drug to ease their symptoms.
The researchers, from Barts Health NHS Trust and the London Medical School, who have been studying beetroot’s blood pressure lowering effects for years, say more work is still needed.
Researcher Dr Amrita Ahluwalia said: “We were surprised by how little nitrate was needed to see such a large effect.
“Our hope is that increasing one’s intake of vegetables with a high dietary nitrate content, such as green leafy vegetables or beetroot, might be a lifestyle approach that one could easily employ to improve cardiovascular health.”
Source: British Heart Foundation