Harvard Heart Letter

A new way to "beet" high blood pressure?

Images: Thinkstock

Beets rarely rank high on anyone's list of most-loved vegetables. But here's a reason to give these ruby-red roots another try: beet juice may help lower blood pressure, according to a study in the February 2015 Hypertension.

Beets contain naturally high levels of nitrates, which your digestive system converts into nitric oxide. This compound relaxes and widens blood vessels, which, in turn, lowers blood pressure.

The study included 68 people with high blood pressure randomly assigned to drink about a cup of regular beet juice or a nitrate-free beet juice (the placebo) every day for four weeks. Blood pressure readings fell by an average of 7.7/2.4 points in the people who drank regular beet juice, compared with no blood pressure changes in those in the placebo group.

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