Enjoy Ruby Root Juiced, Roasted, in Salads & Soups

Hypertension affects more than 65 million American adults — half of whom are unaware of their risk. Here, what you don’t know can harm you — leading to heart disease and stroke.  Fortunately, research suggests ways in which Mother Nature’s bounty might help, most recently highlighting the potential benefits of beets, whose compounds relax blood vessels and thus alleviate pressure.

In a study published in Hypertension, British researchers monitored the effects of drinking one cup of beet juice – or water — among a group of middle-aged hypertensive subjects. Those quaffing the ruby red elixir enjoyed between an 8% to 11% drop in blood pressure, compared to the control group. What’s at work is beets’ high concentration of nitrates, which when converted to nitric oxide actually expand veins  and arteries, allowing more blood and oxygen to flow to the brain, heart and other organs. This may help explain why beet juice improved endurance among cyclists, boosting aerobic efficiency by nearly 20%. Beyond nitrates, beets contain betalains, phytochemicals which may help keep LDL (bad) cholesterol down.

If beet juice isn’t exactly your beverage of choice, try our featured recipe, Spice Beets, Orange and Mint Salad.

Other tips for managing blood pressure:

  • Reduce daily salt intake
  • Fewer caffeinated beverages
  • More potassium from bananas, sweet potatoes and dried plums.
  • Choose vegetable sources of protein over red meat
  • Get up and get active!

Published June 1, 2013