Hypertension is a common condition in the US in which the long-term force of blood against your artery walls is high enough to cause heart disease. Unfortunately, you can have high blood pressure for years without symptoms, therefore doctors will check blood pressure with every in-office visit. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk for heart attacks and strokes. Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries are, the higher your blood pressure will be.
Beets are a vegetable that has been shown to lower blood pressure when eaten on a regular basis. Beets contain a molecule called nitrate, which is then converted to nitric oxide through a chemical reaction using saliva from the mouth. This nitric oxide then travels to the stomach where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. This nitric oxide then helps to control blood pressure by promoting vasodilation, or relaxation, in the blood vessels. In other words, eating beets or having beetroot juice on a regular basis can help promote healthy blood pressure in those without hypertension and can help decrease blood pressure in those with hypertension.
Beets are not usually at the top of our list of favorite foods, and they can sometimes be hard to add into meals and snacks. However, a smoothie is a great way to sneak in beets without changing the taste of the smoothie too much. Try some of these recipes below.
- Beet and Berry Smoothie (from Minimalist Baker) – blend together 1/3 cup peeled and chopped raw beet, 1 1/3 cup frozen strawberries, ¼ ripe banana, and 2/3 cup apple juice until smooth.
- Red Beet Smoothie (from Healthy Nibbles) – blend together 1 small red beet trimmed and peeled, 1 large apple without the core and skin, 1 stalk of celery, 1 cup carrot juice, 1 cup almond milk, 2/3 cup frozen sliced peaches, and 1 inch piece of ginger that is peeled and sliced
- Easy Beet Smoothie (from Well Plated) – blend together ½ cup almond milk, 1 cup frozen mixed berries, 1 small beet peeled and diced, ¼ cup frozen pineapple, ¼ cup nonfat Greek yogurt, 1-2 teaspoons honey (optional), and 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
You can try one of the recipes above, or if you have a favorite smoothie recipe, you can add a small beet to it to get the blood pressure benefits of this vegetable. Help “beet” hypertension with smoothies that taste great and do great things for your body.
- American Heart Association. What is high blood pressure? https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/the-facts-about-high-blood-pressure/what-is-high-blood-pressure#.WrqtReR1rcs. Accessed Dec. 20, 2020.
- Bonilla Ocampo DA, Paipilla AF, Marín E, Vargas-Molina S, Petro JL, Pérez-Idárraga A. Dietary Nitrate from Beetroot Juice for Hypertension: A Systematic Review. Biomolecules. 2018 Nov 2;8(4):134. doi: 10.3390/biom8040134. PMID: 30400267; PMCID: PMC6316347.