Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Beets Beat Hypertension

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease. It is a condition in which blood pressure in the blood vessels becomes elevated. When the heart beats, it pumps blood through the arteries. Blood pressure is the force of blood that is pushing against the walls of your arteries. If your blood pressure is too high, the heart works harder to pump blood, which could lead to organ damage and several other complications such as heart attack, stroke, or heart failure. Hypertension occurs when the pressure inside the blood vessels is too high. When your heart pumps, it sends blood out through the arteries. The force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries causes pressure. Every time your heart beats, it forces more blood into the arteries, causing the pressure to rise. Between beats, when the heart is resting, the pressure lowers. Blood pressure is measured by health professionals by inflating a cuff with air around the upper arm and then listening to the blood flow as the cuff deflates. A normal blood pressure reading is below 120 mm Hg Systolic and 80 mm Hg Diastolic, which is written as 120/80. A high blood pressure is a reading of 140/90 or higher. Recent research published online in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that drinking beet juice can lower high blood pressure. Researchers from Queen Mary University of London found that blood pressure was lower within a 24 hour period in people who took nitrate tablets, and those who drank beet juice. The nitrate content found within the beetroot juice had been found to be the main underlying cause of its blood pressure lowering ability. The study’s author Amrita Ahluwalia stated that they were able to demonstrate that the nitrate found in beetroot juice was the cause of its beneficial effects upon cardiovascular health by increasing the levels of the gas nitric oxide in the circulation. Ahluwalia said, “We showed that beetroot and nitrate capsules are equally effective in lowering blood pressure indicating that it is the nitrate content of beetroot juice that underlies its potential to reduce blood pressure. We also found that only a small amount of juice is needed – just 250 ml - to have this effect, and that the higher the blood pressure at the start of the study the greater the decrease caused by the nitrate."

To Your Health,

John Hall NSCA-CPT

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