According to British researchers at Barts and the London School of Medicine, drinking 500 ml (about one pint) of beetroot juice every day can significantly reduce blood pressure. It’s the nitrate contained in the juice that produces the effect.
Bacteria in saliva convert the nitrate into nitrite, which either circulates throughout the body or is converted into nitric acid in the stomach. In either case, the chemical lowers blood pressure.
The effects of the beetroot juice become evident about one hour after ingestion and peak in three or four hours. Researchers noted that in some cases the effect lasts up to 24 hours.
Interestingly, nitrate is also found in leafy green vegetables. Scientists had previously concluded that it was the anti-oxidant vitamins in those vegetables that made them valuable components of a healthy diet. Now it turns out that their nitrate content may be even more important.
The researchers say that their findings may offer a simple, inexpensive way for people worldwide to control their high blood pressure.