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How much beet juice do I have to drink to lower my blood pressure?

Introduction

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a serious medical condition that affects millions of people worldwide. If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and other health complications. Luckily, there are many natural ways to help lower blood pressure, including making dietary changes like increasing intake of certain foods and beverages. One such food that has been gaining popularity for its potential blood pressure lowering effects is beet juice. But how much beet juice is needed to actually make a difference in blood pressure levels? Let’s take a look at the research.

What are the Benefits of Beet Juice for Blood Pressure?

Beets are a root vegetable that contain high amounts of dietary nitrates. When consumed, nitrates are converted into nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a molecule that helps dilate and relax blood vessels, leading to lower blood pressure. Specifically, studies have shown that drinking beet juice can have the following benefits on blood pressure:

– Reduce systolic blood pressure (the top number in a reading): Studies have shown average reductions of 3-10 mmHg.
– Reduce diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number): Average reductions of 1-5 mmHg.
– Extend the blood pressure lowering effects up to 24 hours.
– Enhance the effects of medication for people already on blood pressure lowering drugs.

Overall, research consistently shows that consuming dietary nitrates from beet juice can significantly reduce blood pressure in many individuals with hypertension. The effects appear to be even greater among people with high blood pressure who are not yet on medication.

How Much Beet Juice Should You Drink?

Most studies on beet juice and blood pressure have used around 100-250ml of beet juice per day.

For example, one study had participants drink 250ml (about 1 cup) of beet juice per day. After one week, systolic blood pressure was lowered by an average of 4.5 mmHg.

Another study tested different dosages starting at 100ml. Researchers found that systolic blood pressure declined steadily with increasing beet juice doses up to 250ml per day.

However, there does seem to be a saturation point where more beet juice does not equal more benefits. Many studies found no additional decrease in blood pressure with amounts over 250ml.

Based on the current research, it’s recommended to drink 100-250ml of beet juice per day to see benefits on blood pressure reduction. That’s about 1-2.5 small cups.

Consuming beet juice any less than 100ml per day may not provide enough nitrates to make a significant impact on blood pressure levels.

How Should You Consume Beet Juice?

The best way to consume beet juice is by juicing fresh raw beets. This retains the highest concentration and bioavailability of nitrates. Pre-made and processed beet juice may have decreasing levels of nitrates.

Look for 100% pure beet juice with no added sugars, preservatives or other ingredients. You can juice beets alone or combine with other vegetables like carrots or spinach to improve the flavor.

Some tips for consuming beet juice:

– Drink it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. This provides nitric oxide benefits for the whole day.

– Try dividing your daily serving into two doses morning and night if once a day causes digestive issues.

– Rinse your mouth and brush your teeth after drinking beet juice. It can temporarily stain the teeth.

– Start slow at 100ml to allow your body to adjust to the natural nitrates.

– Avoid taking beet juice within two hours of thyroid or hypertension medications it can interact with.

How Soon Will You See Effects on Blood Pressure?

Research shows it may take one to two weeks of continuous beet juice consumption to see notable effects on blood pressure.

In one study, drinking 250ml of beet juice per day significantly lowered blood pressure after just one week.

However, the maximum blood pressure lowering benefits seem to come after two weeks, when beet juice has had time to accumulate in the body and provide sustained vasodilation.

For example, one study found there was 3 times greater decrease in blood pressure after two weeks of taking beet juice compared to the effects after just one week.

So when starting out with beet juice, be patient and drink it daily for optimal results. The effects on both systolic and diastolic blood pressure should become more pronounced over a two week period. Just be sure to discuss with your doctor before discontinuing any blood pressure medications.

How Long Do the Effects on Blood Pressure Last?

Studies show the blood pressure lowering effects of beet juice can last up to 24 hours from the time you consume it.

However, the benefits will start to decline after this time period if you do not continue drinking beet juice regularly.

For sustained effects day after day, it should be consumed daily as part of your diet.

One study tested this by having participants take beet juice for four weeks and then stop. Within two weeks of discontinuing the beet juice, blood pressure levels began reverting back to the original baseline.

So the effects do not appear to be long-lasting. To maintain lower blood pressure over weeks and months, make beet juice a daily habit.

Other Dietary Nitrate Foods Like Beets

Beets are the most researched source of dietary nitrates for lowering blood pressure. However, some other foods also contain decent amounts that may have similar benefits:

Food Nitrate Content
Rhubarb 281 mg per 100g
Celery 247 mg per 100g
Cabbage 242 mg per 100g
Lettuce 237 mg per 100g
Spinach 213 mg per 100g

While these foods have nitrates, they have far less than beetroot which contains a whopping 380 mg per 100g.

So you would need to eat very large amounts of these vegetables to get an equivalent nitrate dose to beet juice.

If you want to lower your blood pressure with nitrates, beet juice or concentrated beet powder is recommended over other produce.

Risks and Side Effects

Drinking beet juice is considered safe for most people and the risk of side effects is low. However, some things to be aware of include:

– Kidney stones – Beets are high in oxalate which can contribute to kidney stone development in susceptible individuals. If you’ve had issues with kidney stones, speak with your doctor before starting beet juice.

– Medication interactions – Beet juice can interact with certain blood pressure medications like calcium channel blockers. Separate beet juice and medications by 2-3 hours.

– Beeturia – Harmless reddening of the urine caused by beet pigments.

– Stomach upset – Some people may experience bloating, gas or indigestion. Try lowering your dosage and avoiding calcium-rich foods at the same time as beet juice.

– Red stools – Beet pigments can also turn stools red. This is normal and not cause for concern.

Outside of the above, drinking beet juice as recommended is likely very safe for otherwise healthy people. But check with your physician if pregnant, breastfeeding, on medications or have medical conditions.

The Bottom Line

Drinking raw beet juice provides a natural way to lower blood pressure, thanks to its high nitrate content. Research suggests drinking 100-250ml per day, preferably morning, for maximum blood pressure lowering benefits. Effects may take 1-2 weeks to become pronounced and last up to 24 hours provided you drink it daily. Beet juice is safe for most, but check with your doctor before using for blood pressure management.

Conclusion

In summary, drinking beet juice is an effective natural strategy to reduce high blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic. Consuming 100-250ml daily, ideally first thing in the morning, can help lower readings by up to 5-10 mmHg points over a two week period. For continued benefits, beet juice should be drunk regularly as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle approach to managing hypertension. Just be sure to consult your physician before discontinuing blood pressure medications. With its high nitrate content, beet juice is one of the best superfood choices for supporting healthy blood pressure levels.