Behold the Power of …. Beets
My grandmother grew them in her garden, and as a child, I scarfed down a lot of pickled beets. But they never became a part of my typical menu rotation as an adult. Usually I have them only a couple of times a year at most. Kyle fixes beets for the New Year dinner and they’re always lovely, but I guess due to my own unfamiliarity with how to prepare them, I’ve never cooked beets at home.
Now they’ve become a part of my daily routine.
Like everyone else, I’m daily learning the many joys of aging. Most of the little aches and pains are nothing more than a nuisance, just a constant reminder that things ain’t what they used to be and they aren’t going to get better. But I had become concerned about my rising blood pressure, measured several times in the past year in the low 140s. That’s not what would be considered dangerously high – but it’s also not optimal, and if it follows the trajectory of the other physiological changes I’ve experienced, it will get worse. Aches and pains are one thing – strokes are entirely another. So this is something I decided I needed to be worried about, even though those low 140s readings were outliers. More typically, I was seeing readings in the mid 130s and wanted to get them back to 120 or below.
Medical experts have concluded that blood pressure meds for slightly elevated pressure don’t show much appreciable effect over the long term, and I really would like to avoid having to take any kind of daily prescription medication, so I had tried CoQ10 supplements a while back after reading that they could bring blood pressure down around 10 points. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice any improvement after several months of taking the supplement, so I continued to look for other things that might help.
Then a few weeks ago, I heard something about beet root juice helping to bring down blood pressure. I looked into it, and determined that while it would be worth trying, it would be too expensive for me as a long term solution. Beet root juice isn’t all that common so you’re looking at either ordering online or buying from a place like Whole Foods, at a cost of $15 or so for a 5 day supply. Then there’s the whole thing of drinking beet juice – the recommended dosage is 1 cup per day, and I imagine that it may not be the most delicious beverage around. $90 a month is a lot to spend on something that you don’t really like.
So I thought, why not try beet powder? It’s just dehydrated beets, so it’s got all the stuff that would be in the juice or the beets themselves. I found some beet powder capsules on amazon and they were cheap, so I ordered them. I took a blood pressure reading 3 or 4 days before I started taking the capsules and I was at 138/84. Two weeks later, after taking the capsules for about 10 days, I took another reading…and was down to 107/74.
This was with a daily dosage of 6 capsules – approximately 1-1/2 teaspoons of beet powder, equivalent to eating 1-1/2 medium sized beets. If you have any concerns about your blood pressure being too high, you need to give this a try. It’s not a quack remedy; it’s actually scientifical. Apparently there’s a compound in beets (nitrites or nitrates – like I said, this is scientifical, not scientific) that boost the levels of nitric oxide in the blood, and nitric oxide has the happy effect of relaxing blood vessel walls. Bottom line – even if my before and after readings were outliers – that is, the before was higher than average and the after lower than average, I figure I still got at least a 20-point drop in my blood pressure within 10 days. Compare that to the 10-point drop – or less – doctors hope to achieve with many of the prescription meds for reducing pressure, and it’s even more remarkable.
Of course, the first thing I did was email Dr. Lyta to tell her to add beet root powder to her Vitamin Manifesto. Then I did what I always hoped I would never do – I sat down to write an Old Fart blog post. Sorry about that, but I thought this was something that should be shared with friends, so hopefully it will help at least one person out of the five who read this blog.