The Beet Goes On

 

Vegetable SmoothieThere may be more to blood-red beets than meets the eye. A recent study from St. Bartholemew’s Hospital (Barts) and The London School of Medicine found that consuming two cups of beet juice a day can significantly improve cardiovascular health. The study monitored the blood pressure of 14 participants who drank two cups of either pure beet juice or water.

Professor Amrita Ahluwalia and her team reported 10 millimeters of mercury (mmHg, the standard unit used to measure blood pressure) reductions in systolic blood pressure levels two and a half hours after consumption and 8 mmHg drops in diastolic pressure levels three hours after consumption. Researchers believe that the beneficial agent countering hypertension is the dietary nitrate found in beetroot, which is converted to nitric oxide, a compound that opens blood vessels in the body.

Beet juice is available at most health food stores, but it is also easy to make. At the market, select beets that are small and firm, with deep maroon or burgundy coloring and unblemished skins. Remove the tops, boil the roots, cool, peel and juice, adding a little water or vegetable or fruit juice to dilute. Flavor by serving over ice, with a twist of mint or lime.

Source: Queen Mary, University of London, 2008

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