The study, published in the journal Hypertension, looked at 15 adults with type 1 hypertension (or systolic blood pressure), and observed them for 24 hours after they drank one 8-ounce serving of beet juice (roughly the equivalent of two beets). The researchers found that blood pressure dropped about 10 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) in that time period, especially three to six hours after drinking the beet juice. Why beets? Beets are chock-full of nitrates, which convert into nitric oxide in the body; the gas helps blood vessels expand and improves blood flow.
The reason the study is so notable, Everyday Health notes, is that previous studies have found that only a large amount of beet juice — a full pint — would have an effect on blood pressure. "In this study, we saw that a dose that had a really small effect in healthy people had a really impressive effect in people with high blood pressure,” said Amrita Ahluwalia, Ph.D., the lead author of the study and a professor of vascular biology at Barts and The London Medical School in London to Everyday Health. And of course, higher blood pressure is linked to an increased risk of stroke and heart attacks.