Do Beets Help Blood Pressure?

In one word….YES!

I could leave it at that and let the world either revel in the fact or find some way to avoid them altogether regardless of the hypertensive crushing power because of how they taste.

Seeing as this month is heart month, lets dive into why these red tubers are actually quite healthy and can play a most excellent part in a diet.

Beets may help lower your blood pressure

Beets may help lower your blood pressure

But first, the study.

Our British friends across the pond were the ones that did the study. They took 64 subjects with hypertension who either were on medications or who hadn’t yet been prescribed anything and assigned them to 2 beet juice groups; one group had nitrates in the juice (which are naturally occurring), and the other had no nitrates.

Now if the idea of drinking beet juice sounds revolting, hold on just a moment.

In the group that was receiving the nitrates in their juice, blood pressure was reduced by ~8/4 mmHg. [1] That’s on par with some blood pressure medications. Endothelial function also improved as well as arterial stiffness reduced. The article said that the treatment was well tolerated. I’m sure the only real side effect was that of red urine and stool. The dose was 250ml juice/day.

Another study done with 500ml daily found a reduction of 4-5 mmHg systolic pressure 6 hours after ingestion. [2]

Another study found that beets may increase exercise tolerance. [3]

Researchers at Wake Forest have shown increase blood flow to white matter in the anterior brain and believe that beet juice has potential to decrease the chances of poor cognition and dementia in older people. [4]

Beets are great! And they appear to have some great benefits. The only problem is you actually have to ingest them to get the benefit. So what’s a person to do?

Raw

You can eat beets raw, and there is nothing wrong with that. They are somewhat tough though, especially if they aren’t young. Slice em thin or cut them small to make them easier to masticate. Thinly sliced beets with some other veggie like celery or onion, with olive oil drizzled over and some salt or crushed garlic makes for a great appetizer.

Steamed

Roasted or steamed beets with oranges or other citrus and some crumbled cheese is a great salad

Roasted or steamed beets with oranges or other citrus and some crumbled cheese is a great salad

Steam those suckers and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Place them atop the beet greens and crumble some cheese on top.

Juiced

If you have a juicer, you can always juice them, just beware of staining. The pulp can be used in other recipes if you’re looking for some coloring or fibre. Also be aware that because you take the fibre out when you juice, you also increase the glycemic index of the food. Beets are no exception. Don’t drink 500ml of veggie and fruit juice a day and expect your triglycerides to stay low. Keep it to mostly veggies and maybe just a bit of fruit to keep the sugar level down.

Pickeled

You can do it yourself and this is probably the best method. Pickeled beets are great on salads or just straight.

Others

Add them to soups, any salad, bake them till soft and marinate them in some balsamic vinegar and salt. Borscht is also popular. Crush it up and put it in your gnocchi dough to make some red/purple gnocchi. Here’s one recipe you can try:

https://dobetter.wordpress.com/category/family-meals/beet-puree/

One word of caution. If you are a person with a history of oxalate kidney stones, be careful as to the amount of beets you actually consume. As beets have lots of oxalates, the risk for stones in this population would be increased.

Let me know how you eat your beets.

 

CIAO

 

 

1.Dietary nitrate provides sustained blood pressure lowering in hypertensive patients, Vikas Kapil, et al., Hypertension, doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.04675, published online 24 November 2014,

2.Coles, Leah T., and Peter M. Clifton. Effect of beetroot juice on lowering blood pressure in free-living, disease-free adults: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Diss. BioMed Central, 2012.

3.Bailey, Stephen J., et al. “Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans.” Journal of Applied Physiology 107.4 (2009): 1144-1155.

4.http://news.wfu.edu/2010/11/03/benefits-of-beet-juice/

Faux Health Foods and Why I Stay Away

I saw something the other day that bugged me. Like really bugged me. So much so that I decided to write on it.

My very first post on this blog which you can access here:

https://pharmacybrute.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/superfoods-are-they-really-that-super/

I talked about so called super foods and if they really are that super. I’m not against eating so called super foods. Blueberries as I stated in that post are wonderful and very healthy and I eat them whenever I can get them. I just think labeling them super foods in misleading. After all liver and a chunk of red meat is loaded with tons of nutrients and I don’t hear anyone calling a rib-eye super food, although maybe they should….

My point is that while I don’t call any foods super I still eat foods called by that name. (Cherry pie is an entirely different topic and most definitely super).

Then there are the faux health foods, foods that appear to be healthy but in reality are just as junky as any other junk food as well as some others that aren’t so bad but you still have to be careful.

Chips

I like a good chip with the appropriate dip. It’s not typically on my menu but is enjoyed every once in a while. Why? Well it’s no secret that chips aren’t exactly healthy. Want proof?

Potato chips are made with potatoes (not bad) and sunflower, corn or canola oil (bad). 15 chips of one brand can have 160 calories with 10 grams of fat. No I’m not against consuming fat, I am however against consuming a whole bunch of omega-6 fatty acids which is pretty much what these are slathered in. I also don’t think eating most of your calories from fat is generally a good idea.

Put a little dip on those and now your in no man’s land regarding the amount of calories you can consume with ease. Not to mention that many of those dips are made with omega-6 fats and partially hydrogenated fats, the latter being something no person should consume.

So what faux food am I talking about? Chips that are baked or that are made with olive oil or avocado oil. Let me be clear. I’m not saying don’t every have some chips now and again. But lets look at a couple of things.

Healthier? Probably. Just as likely to cause overabundance of calories? YUP

Healthier? Probably. Just as likely to cause overabundance of calories? YUP

Avocado oil is definitely better than omega-6 laden corn or sunflower oil and I do use it in my own home for cooking purposes as it makes a nice salad dressing and has a high smoke point if I’m cooking something on the stove. BUT eating a bunch of extra avocado oil isn’t something that should be done regularly. Why? Because it’s a lot of extra fat.

This is akin to my favorite of all deserts, cherry pie. Yeah I eat cherry pie cuz it’s  CHERRYFREAKINGPIE! But I only get it maybe 4 times a year. Ok , maybe 5. Why would I limit myself to only a few times a year? Because cherry pie is one of those foods where I can’t eat just one piece.

If Superman has kryptonite, the PharmacyBrute has cherry pie.

If Superman has kryptonite, the PharmacyBrute has cherry pie.

Could I eat a little more pie throughout the year and be fine? Absolutely. Could I eat chips a bit more throughout the year and be fine? Absolutely. But it has to be intentional and so often things like chips and for me pie becomes unintentional. What does that mean?

It’s time to digress quite a bit.

Unintentionality

Unintentionality is the characteristic of being unintentional, meaning no thought is put into it. I believe this is why many people struggle with lifestyle. They are intentional for a time with their new “lifestyle” but since it isn’t easy or it’s too restricting or results aren’t what they want, they ditch their intentional lifestyle and let unintentionality run its course.

It’s so easy not to think about what your eating. Heck I even see people at the pharmacy who have no idea what medications they are taking or even what they are for. One lady even called and asked if she had medication ready. I told her she had a couple and asked which one she was looking for. She wasn’t sure. I asked what the medication was for. She didn’t know. I asked what she saw the doctor for. She didn’t know. Really? Sigh.

PIccard

The feeling I get when someone tells me they don’t know why they’ve seen the doctor. I can’t make this up.

Chips and pie make it easy to become unintentional with your food. BBQ’s can have that effect too. I’ve seen whole packages of Oreos devoured with little thought to what was going on. That’s around 2500 calories.

These foods make it easy to not think about what you are doing. You unintentionally eat much more than you normally would. Don’t be unintentional about your eating.

Back to the matter at hand, faux health foods. Chips are one food you have to be careful with. Another are powerbars or protein bars. I think these are definitely less likely to cause problems, especially since many people use them as a meal replacement rather than addition to their meal. It’s the latter scenario that causes concern.

Dried Fruits and Trail Mixes also present problems. Used in the situation of carrying something lightweight while actually hiking on a trail and expending calories, these can be useful. Having around as a snack while sitting all day at a desk or on the couch not so much. Try hydrated fruit. It’s super tasty and has the added benefit of water.

SunChips aren’t really that much better than avocado oil chips and should be treated accordingly.

Granola is a long time honored breakfast, snack and otherwise well written about food. We all know granola isn’t as low in calories as we wished it was. If you eat it be sure to actually measure out how much is going into your mouth. Get a scale because a volume measure isn’t as accurate.

Most sports drinks fall into this category as well. Most energy drinks are beneficial only after some intense working out. Intervals training would be an example and even then some dextrose in water will work great and is so much cheaper. I’ve found that they can also be beneficial to newbies at the gym when they go a little too hard and drop their blood sugar a little too low, but even then they don’t need a bottle. A few swigs and a few minutes rest and most people are able to bounce back.

Yogurts can be a problem too, mostly when you get them from restaurants or fast food joints. And yes Starbucks qualifies as fast food. While yogurt typically isn’t a problem, many come with granola and added sugar. These can easily top 600 calories in one go. Again for someone that is eating or trying to eat a 1500 calorie/day diet this might get your there a little too quickly.

In short it pays to pay attention to what you’re eating and to have some intent with what and how much you’re eating. In the next post I will talk about how to be intentional with your food.

CIAO

 

Disclaimer: All info on this website is for education purposes only. Any dietary or lifestyle changes that readers want to make should be done with the guidance of a competent medical practitioner. The author assumes no responsibility nor liability  for the use or dissemination of this information. Anyone who chooses to apply this information for their own personal use does so at their own risk.