Nutrition Diva explains the blood pressure-lowering benefits of certain vegetables with nitrates.
Q. I heard on TV last week that consuming beets can help lower high blood pressure. Is this true?
A. A recent study showed that drinking a pint of beet juice can temporarily lower your blood pressure as much as 10 points for the systolic (or top number) and 8 points for the diastolic (the bottom number). Researchers believe that the nitrates in beets are responsible for this effect.
Usually, of course, we think of nitrates as dietary villains. The nitrates in cured meats, for example, can turn into carcinogens in your body. But as I explained in this episode, nitrates in vegetables are not harmful—and can even be beneficial.
If downing 16 ounces of beet juice a day doesn’t appeal, don’t worry: You can get the blood pressure-lowering benefits of nitrates from other vegetables as well—especially leafy greens. In fact, Swiss chard and spinach are both from the same family as beets and are similarly rich in nitrates, while being significantly lower in sugar.
See also: Juicing for Health and Nutrition