In the last several years, studies have shown that people, especially men, who drink beet juice can significantly lower their blood pressure (Nutrition Journal, Dec. 11, 2012).
If you try this, you may have to experiment with the dose. Initial studies used two cups of beet juice a day, but that can get pricey. If you can lower your blood pressure with just one cup daily, so much the better.
Apparently, beets affect blood pressure by promoting the production of nitric oxide in the lining of blood vessels. This, in turn, makes the blood vessels relax, lowering pressure (Hypertension, March 2008).
If we told you that blueberries contribute to nitric oxide production, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that people who eat blueberries can lower their blood pressure.
A recent study compared 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberries (the equivalent of a cup of fresh or frozen berries) to 22 grams of similar-looking placebo powder. Postmenopausal women with elevated blood pressure were randomly assigned to take one of these powders daily for two months.
At the end of that time, those getting the blueberry powder had significantly lower blood pressure and higher nitric oxide levels (Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, online Jan. 2, 2015). A cup of blueberries daily certainly sounds like a tasty way to help control blood pressure.
The compounds from cacao beans are not quite like those in blueberries, but they seem to have a similar effect. Flavanols found in chocolate or cocoa induce nitric oxide production in blood vessels.
Randomized, controlled trials show that a dose of 500 to 750 mg daily can lower blood pressure modestly (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Aug. 15, 2012).
If you want to use cocoa as part of your natural blood pressure control strategy (and we do), you’ll need to find sources that are rich in flavanol compounds. It is not quite as easy as munching on chocolate bars, as some are high in flavanols but many are quite low.
CocoaVia has 375 mg of flavanols per packet. Although the product is pricey, its maker, Mars Botanical, is careful about quality control.
A beautiful red tea made from hibiscus flowers can help lower blood pressure about as well as the prescription medicine captopril (Fitoterapia, March 2013). Compounds in the tea block an enzyme called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), as many popular antihypertensive drugs do (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Jan. 8, 2010).
One reader wrote to us: “I have started drinking hibiscus tea. The last time I went to the doctor, my blood pressure was 10 points lower. I hate taking pills, and was pleased when my doctor said, ‘Whatever you’re doing, keep it up!’”
Another beautiful red beverage that can help lower blood pressure is pomegranate juice. Like hibiscus tea, pomegranate juice reduces ACE activity and has an antihypertensive effect.
One study found that blood pressure was 6 to 7 percent lower just four hours after the volunteers drank half a cup of pomegranate juice (ARYA Atherosclerosis, Nov. 2013).
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