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Beetroot juice to treat high blood pressure

PUBLISHED: 19:00 21 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:04 05 October 2010

BEETROOT juice could be the key to beating high blood pressure, according to East End experts. Scientists at the new Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit are investigating how drinking beetroot juice on a daily basis could lower blood pressure levels

BEETROOT juice could be the key to beating high blood pressure, according to East End experts.

Scientists at the new Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit are investigating how drinking beetroot juice on a daily basis could lower blood pressure levels and therefore reduce the risks of heart disease.

Hypertension causes around 50 per cent of coronary heart disease and around 75 per cent of strokes.

Experts at the London School of Medicine and Dentistry began their research two years ago when they found that the blood pressures of healthy volunteers were reduced within an hour of drinking 500ml of beetroot juice.

And now with the help of the new unit at the London Chest Hospital, the researchers will be testing out their theories on patients who already suffer with high blood pressure to see if they can use the juice to reverse the damage.

A trial has just kicked-off in which patients are drinking the juice on a daily basis over a month.

And doctors are hoping in the future patients will be able to drink less than 500ml of the juice instead of taking their tablets.

Professor Amrita Ahluwalia who is leading the trial said it is the chemical nitrate which is found in the juice and in green, leafy vegetables, that is the key ingredient.

She said: "Bacteria convert the nitrate into nitrite which keeps the blood vessels healthy.

"When the healthy volunteers drank the beetroot juice their blood pressure lowered immediately, so it should be fantastic for someone with high blood pressure."

More than 25 per cent of the world's adult population is hypertensive, and it has been estimated that this figure will increase to 29 per cent by 2025.

Professor Ahluwalia and her team will be using the imaging facilities at the new research unit to find out more about the damage caused to a patient's heart structure and their blood vessels because of high blood pressure, to see how they can treat it.

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