Eating Beetroot lowers your Blood Pressure

By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer

Increasing in blood pressure is common as one grows older. It is simple to explain this phenomenon.  After all, heart is a physical pump that pumps oxygenated blood to the whole body through arterial vascular tubes controlled by involuntary smooth muscles and an inner lining of cells. Aging causes these tubes to get thickened and the lumen tends to get more narrowed.  This we call ‘arteriosclerosis’ of the arteries. This does not happen in veins as they have no smooth muscles to control. Hence, veins are used as grafts in open heart surgery.

The heart needs to pump with more force when this phenomenon of thickening occurs in blood vessels with age, and that force is recorded as systolic blood pressure. The diastolic lower pressure is related to the resistance of the peripheral vessels. With increased thickening the vessels do not expand sufficiently to accommodate the oncoming blood.

There are ways and means of lowering ones blood pressure through exercise, herbs, conventional medication, and so on. Some medications work centrally on the heart to reduce the force of ventricular contraction and also reduce heart rate. Other medications act peripherally by relaxing the smooth muscles of the arteries. Then there are the ACE inhibitor and blocking drugs to reduce the angiotensin a hormone secreted by the kidney to cause narrowing of vessels.

There is a chemical called ‘nitrites’ which dilates the peripheral arteries. It is generally secreted in the inner lining of arteries. Nitrites through the elastic smooth muscles expand these vessels to accommodate the incoming blood from the heart. This is how you can feel a thud with each contraction and we call it the pulse.

Beetroots seem to have this nitrite in the form of inorganic nitrates. This chemical lowers the blood pressure and increases exercise performance. They are found generously in the green leafy vegetables, beetroot and beetroot juice. In the body these nitrates are transformed into nitric oxide, responsible for the smooth dilatation of arteries and the lowering of blood pressure. Also dietary nitrates have been shown to reduce oxygen use during physical activities by its action on mitochondria- energy producing material found in each cell.

Beetroot also is high in potassium and that can lead to reduced blood pressure levels and have positive effects on the cardiovascular health.

We do not advice to take beetroot as a substitute to the conventional medication for high blood pressure, but eating beetroot in various cooking preparation daily may facilitate to reduce the dose of conventional medication. Also beetroot lower the systolic pressure by 3-10 mm/Hg over a period of a few hours after consuming.

Lots of people drink beetroot by making into a smoothie

Exercise too liberates nitrites into the blood vessel tissues and helps expanding the blood vessels to supply more oxygen to the tissues.

The common ingredients used in for the smoothie are pineapple chunks, sliced cooked beets, celery and almond milk. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth
Regular consumption of beetroot may affect those individuals who are prone to kidney stones. Also expect your urine to be reddish in colour and do not panic.

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