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Diet significantly impacts blood pressure, with certain foods raising it and others lowering it to safe levels. While various factors contribute, a well-chosen diet can minimize the need for medications. Beets, often overlooked, emerge as a top food choice for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.

Beetroots are rich in nitrates

Beetroots, commonly called beets, are recognized for their vivid red hue, earthy taste, and the tendency to stain clothes. Popularly consumed in salads, borscht, and pickled forms, beets offer nutritional benefits such as fiber, folate, potassium, antioxidants, and vitamin C.

Since they are rich in nitrates, they can convert to nitric oxide, a molecule crucial for dilating blood vessels and lowering blood pressure. Studies reveal that whole beets and beetroot juice effectively reduce elevated blood pressure levels. Raw beets may have a stronger impact. This natural remedy capitalizes on the body’s ability to produce nitric oxide, demonstrating potential benefits in managing hypertension.

Aren’t nitrates in animal products harmful?

Processed meats often contain nitrates, contributing to recommendations to limit their consumption for cancer risk reduction. Studies suggest added nitrates in processed meats may increase cancer risk, while naturally-occurring nitrates in vegetables do not pose the same risk.

Nitrates are commonly added to meats like bacon, jerky, and sausage as preservatives and flavor enhancers. Nitrites, another preservative, can convert to nitrosamines, considered carcinogenic, when added to processed meats. Although nitrates can also undergo this conversion, it is less straightforward in fruits and vegetables.

The typical order of conversion is from nitrates to nitrites to nitrosamines. Fruits and vegetables, abundant in vitamin C, may lead to the production of blood pressure-friendly nitric oxide instead of nitrosamines. Some research suggests that additives in cured meats may not be as harmful when consumed in moderation.

Beets are rich in nitrates, which convert to nitric oxide in the body and contribute to maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. Unlike the nitrates and nitrites found in processed meats, those in beets and other plant foods do not pose the same cancer risk. Adding beets to your diet through salads, soups, or smoothies can be a nutritious and beneficial choice.