Nearly one in three American adults has hypertension, a major heart-disease risk factor that's on the rise among women. But sipping beet juice might bring your blood pressure down, says a study published in "Hypertension." Within an hour of drinking about two cups of beet juice, healthy volunteers showed a significant blood-pressure drop, an effect that peaked as a chemical called nitrite entered their bloodstream. Known to relax blood-vessel muscles, nitrite is formed from nitrate, a compound found at high levels in both beets and dark green, leafy vegetables like kale and spinach.
Blending beets with other fruits and veggies can make the intensely flavored juice tastier, says Cherie Calbom, author of the upcoming "Juicing, Fasting, and Detoxing for Life." Calbom suggests a beet-carrot-lemon-ginger combo or a beet-carrot-apple blend. Don't have a juicer? Look for bottled beet juice at natural-foods stores.