Do you want to get your blood pressure down fast? Then eat a daily dose of beetroot or drink beetroot juice.
Researchers Coles and Clifton from the Baker IDI heart and diabetes laboratory in Melbourne, Australia, have shown that consuming beetroot juice can bring your blood pressure down by 5 points, 6 hours after the meal.
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled cross-over study, volunteers consumed either a beetroot and apple juice mix, or a placebo juice. Their blood pressure was then monitored at hourly intervals.
After 6 hours, systolic blood pressure fell by roughly 4-5 mmHg. Previous studies have looked at a low-nitrate diet, finding that the increases in nitric oxide provided by the beetroot reduced blood pressure and cardiovascular risk. This study looked at normal healthy individuals on a normal diet and found the same benefit.
Beetroot does, however, have a high natural sugar content. Some experts recommend fermenting the beetroot, using sauerkraut and the probiotic ‘mother’. This fermentation process would use up all the sugar after about 5 days. Beet Kvass, as the fermented juice is called, is prized in Russia for its health benefits in lowering blood pressure, cleaning the gallbladder and liver and boosting gut health. Tolstoy described how Russian soldiers took a glass of the sour juice for its protective health benefits before venturing from their barracks during the cholera epidemic.