Beets Increase Vascular Health, Reduce Blood Pressure

red beets contain nitrate and betalains

Photo by Dag Endresen

Beets are not only sweet and delicious. They are also extremely healthy for the heart and the blood vessels.

Now we’re not talking about the genetically modified beets that are used for much of the refined white sugar found in processed foods and candy. These are white beets of the Beta vulgaris species. The red and yellow beetroots also go by the B. vulgaris species – subspecies vulgaris variant conditiva. These are natural cultivars and to my knowledge there are no GMO varieties of red and yellow beets.

The sugar beet and the nutrition-rich red or yellow beet may be the same species, but they are cultivated for different purposes. The white beet is processed to extract the sugar content, while red and yellow beets provide significant nutrient content.

Red and yellow beets are a good source of niacin, folate, pantothenic acid (B5), vitamin C, copper, magnesium, manganese and iron. But they also contain special phytocompounds such as glycine betaine and dietary nitrate (NO3).

Nitrate and blood vessel health

The most recent evidence comes from a study from the European Journal of Nutrition. Medical scientists from the UK’s Newcastle University, along with the London Medical School conducted a recent examination of the research on beets and blood vessel health. They found twelve studies that included crossover research. There were 264 total participants studied among these trials. Some studied the effects of beets on blood vessel health. Others studied the effects of one of beet’s most healthy compounds – nitrate or NO3.

The researchers found that the beets and nitrate improved vascular function among the subjects by an average of 36 percent. The researchers also found that inorganic nitrate significantly increased blood vessel function.

Nitrate and beets also had the effect of reducing body mass index among the patients, and reducing systolic blood pressure.

Lowering blood pressure with beets

In 2013, researchers from Newcastle University also studied beets and blood pressure. They analyzed 16 clinical trials that included 264 people. The tests ranged from two hours to 15 days. Their meta-analysis found that on average, beet juice or nitrate reduced systolic blood pressure by an average of 4.4 mm Hg, and diastolic blood pressure by 1.1 mm Hg.

The analysis also showed a significant dose-effect relationship. This means that the more beet consumption equaled greater reductions in blood pressure.

The researchers concluded simply:

“Inorganic nitrate and beetroot juice supplementation was associated with a significant reduction in systolic BP.”

Exclusive of this research, a study from the University of Reading found that beetroot juice and even bread infused with beets significantly lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure among 32 adults.

There is also some evidence that the nitrates in beets can reduce triglycerides. A study from Austin, Texas found that 30 days of natural nitrate supplementation reduced triglycerides to 168 mg/dL while the placebo group’s triglycerides levels averaged 232 mg/dL.

Betalains and Betanidins

Another reason to look for red beets: The red beet color reflects its betanin content – a pigment called a betalain. Other betalains in beets include betanidin, probetanin, isobetanin and neobetanin. Beets also contain other pigments such as vulgaxanthin and indicaxanthin. All of these pigments are antioxidants.

New research from Spain’s University of Murcia has found that Betalains and betanidin inhibit the enzymes lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase – both of which are enzymes involved in pain and inflammation (e.g., COX and LOX inhibitors).

Discover: Organic Beet Juice Concentrate

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REFERENCES:

Lara J, Ashor AW, Oggioni C, Ahluwalia A, Mathers JC, Siervo M. Effects of inorganic nitrate and beetroot supplementation on endothelial function: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Nutr. 2016 Mar;55(2):451-9. doi:
10.1007/s00394-015-0872-7.

Siervo M, Lara J, Ogbonmwan I, Mathers JC. Inorganic nitrate and beetroot juice supplementation reduces blood pressure in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Nutr. 2013 Jun;143(6):818-26. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.170233.

Vidal PJ, López-Nicolás JM, Gandía-Herrero F, García-Carmona F. Inactivation of lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase by natural betalains and semi-synthetic analogues. Food Chem. 2014 Jul 1;154:246-54. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.01.014.

Kelly J, Fulford J, Vanhatalo A, Blackwell JR, French O, Bailey SJ, Gilchrist M, Winyard PG, Jones AM. Effects of short-term dietary nitrate supplementation on blood pressure, O2 uptake kinetics, and muscle and cognitive function in older adults. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2013 Jan 15;304(2):R73-83.

Kelly J, Fulford J, Vanhatalo A, Blackwell JR, French O, Bailey SJ, Gilchrist M, Winyard PG, Jones AM. Effects of short-term dietary nitrate supplementation on blood pressure, O2 uptake kinetics, and muscle and cognitive function in older adults. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2013 Jan 15;304(2):R73-83.

Zand J, Lanza F, Garg HK, Bryan NS. All-natural nitrite and nitrate containing dietary supplement promotes nitric oxide production and reduces triglycerides in humans. Nutr Res. 2011 Apr;31(4):262-9.

Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn ones health around. As I drove home that night, I realized I needed to get this knowledge out to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.”

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