February 13, 2008

Beets Me

[By Crabby]

When I'm stressed, sometimes my blood pressure becomes a bit problematic.

No, not the "you must rush out and take care of that immediately" kind of bad, but the "ehr, better keep an eye on that" sort of number.

I have a blood pressure monitor at home that I'm very good about checking it when I know everything's mellow and it's going to show me a nice acceptable number. Oddly enough, I avoid using the monitor when I'm all wound up and I suspect it's going to tell me something I don't like.

I already eat pretty healthy, watch my salt, exercise religiously (except on road trips), and do every freakin' thing you're supposed to do. (Okay, I could be better about scheduling deep breathing/relaxation time, but I at least do a little of it.) And I'm reluctant to start on medication for as long as I can avoid it. So I'm always on the lookout for natural ways to lower my blood pressure.

And guess what, here's a new one: "Beet Juice Lowers Blood Pressure!" Just two cups a day.

Um, two whole cups of beet juice a day?


Normally, a sweet taste in a vegetable is a good thing. Yams? Onions? Roasted Eggplant? All quite likable. But there's something about beety sweetness that I find totally disgusting.

If I had to drink two cups of beet juice a day I'd barf.

Is it just me, or does anyone else share an extreme hatred of beets, or have some other healthy vegetable you just can't stomach?

I'm also curious if anyone is on blood pressure meds and what those are like. I'm already up to my eyeballs in healthy vegetables, and will even drink beet juice if it will actually help, but I'm a little pessimistic. None of the other lifestyle things that are supposed to lower blood pressure have made a noticeable difference.

Or maybe all the healthy things I'm doing are really helping, and my blood pressure would be totally off the charts if I wasn't doing any of them.

I can't really complain about being unlucky in the blood pressure department, as all my other numbers have always been good. I know lots of you struggle with cholesterol or blood sugar or other unfair "bad" numbers despite your best efforts to be healthy. (Kinda frustrating, or do you take it in stride?)

Note: I'm definitely going in for a physical as soon as I get my new health insurance policy, so I can see what the doctor says. (When I go to my ob/gyn and my blood pressure comes out a little highish she doesn't seem too concerned--but then it's not really her department. And I'm thinking doctors who wield speculums are probably used to seeing patients who are not entirely comfortable and relaxed).

But for those of you who know something about the pros and cons of blood pressure drugs: Should I Fear The Pills? Anyone have any cautionary tales/words of encouragement? Or should I just suck it up and drink my beets?


  1. I LOVE beets. Mostly as I hardly have them now, but my Mum used to make them all the time...mmm...steamed with a bit of butter & salt. In borscht. Beet pickles.
    All yum.
    But I don't know if I could do 2 glasses of beet juice a day. Too much of a good think methinks.
    And wouldn' you start to pee red? That would alarm me :)

  2. I like beets...but beet juice sounds gross. There aren't really any veggies I refuse to eat.

    I just recently found that that I have high cholesterol- I'm only 23 and it's higher than my dad who's almost 60!!! I was shocked but the DR said I didn't need to be too concerned now because everything else looks good.

    Still...more incentive to exercise even more and eat healthy even more (is that possible?!?)

  3. Two cups of beet juice a day is absurd. Geosomin is right about peeing red, and you'll certainly be cleaned out inside, but I am sure there's a better way.
    Eat beets. Make borscht, roast them, pickle them, have the occasional bit of beet juice if you wish.
    Of course you don't like 'em so there's really no point in forcing 'em down. It'll make your blood pressure worse.
    Take a few minutes a day or relaxation/deep breathing/ thinking calm thoughts.

    Quite often, BP is up because you are in the doctor's office. You don't really have high blood pressure, you've got white-coat induced high blood pressure. Test anxiety is everywhere.

  4. Geosomin, I never even thought about red pee! And I think I'll try to erase that mental picture asap.

    Emily, another beet lover? Dang, maybe I'm missing out on a good thing. How frustrating about your cholesterol number--but I guess it's good you found out early.

    Leah-- I definitely have white coat syndrome, but I've also caught my b.p. misbehaving in the comfort of my own home. And yeah, the relaxation thing is definitely a good idea, I really should do it more often. (She said, taking a slow deep breath and thinking of a poolside massage at a fancy resort...)

  5. Ewwww...I am with you on the beet hating. Also cannot stand kale or brussel sprouts...*shudder*


  6. Don't worry, Crabby, beets (like kale) are not Real Food. They're actually meant for cattle to eat, so we can have more steak.

    If anything could give hypothyroid me high blood pressure, it would be forcing myself to drink beet juice every day.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  7. Missicat and Mary Anne--thank you! I somehow knew I could count on both of you. Beets are blechhy!

    Brussel sprouts and kale I put in the category of "needs a lot of help to be edible". But I've managed to get those down if well-prepared.

    Alas, there's no hiding a beet.

  8. I LOVE beets. They are awesome.

    I do hate celery and adult carrots though. Weird huh? Seriously, I never cook with celery, I just omit it from recipes all the time. And although I eat 2lbs (it's true I go through a bag a week) of baby carrots, I hate adult carrots. I think that one might be psychological though...

    I don't have blood pressure meds, but I am blessed with white coat syndrome. I.e. if my blood pressure is taken at home, its actually amazingly healthy, but when the doctor takes it, it's always just a little high. My dad has it too.

  9. I used to be an extremely picky eater. I convinced myself that broccoli, brussels sprouts and beets were horrible, before even really eating them that much. Of course, now I eat them all, and in fact was excited when I saw there were still local brussels sprouts at the store the other day (it's pretty much the only veggie I can get locally now).

    Sarah, I'm with you about the adult carrots! I've heard that baby carrots are really adult carrots shaved down, so it's psychological. But I find the baby ones so much better. Even when I'm not eating them straight - when I put them in recipes and such, the adult ones just seem so much more bitter!

    The one veggie I just absolutely can't stand is olives. Give me the willies, they do. Blech.

  10. Beets are horrible horrible horrible.

    (Did you see that recent news article on the trend in women's blood pressure? I'm going to go find it...)

  11. Maybe you could compromise? Have just 1 cup of beet juice a day and lower your bp a little bit. Or wait a bit... someone is sure to come along soon with a new and different study.

    Sarah, I thought I was the only one who differentiated between baby and adult carrots :)

  12. I have high cholesterol. And you know what's really unfair? Last year I worked really hard and after I had lost about 15 pounds it was time to get it tested again, and it was in the normal range! (Just barely -- about 197, but that was a HUGE drop from where it was before.)

    I donated blood a couple of times after that, and my blood bank offered free cholesterol tests. Both normal.

    Then, a mere two or three weeks after my last blood donation (about a month ago), I went back for another cholesterol test at my doctor's office.... and it was high again!! It was almost as high as it was before!

    I'm 24 and, um, I don't wanna die. O.O I'm blaming it on the fact that I fell off the wagon over the holidays and gained a couple of pounds... but that much? Over such a short amount of time? My body must be really sensitive or something. >.<

    By blood pressure, though, has always been A-OK. So, there's that. :p

    Actually, one of the times I gave blood, my blood pressure was 100/60. And to fully understand the significance of this, you have to understand that giving blood (getting an IV needle for any reason, actually) FREAKS ME OUT. (I do it because I care.) So, like, how low was my BP before I walked into the blood bank?!

  13. I remember reading a study that said drinking cranberry juice once a day helped lower blood pressure. I know, it's red, like beet juice, but it sure tastes a heck of a lot better.

  14. Crabby - My blood pressure is a little bit high and I am on meds. Even after losing 30 lbs, it is still borderline high. No significant side effects, although I did cough a lot right after I went on them. Apparently that is a normal side effect, but I thought I had bronchitis! I hate beets, and the thought of drinking two cups of beet juice almost makes me sick right here on my computer. However, I did see somewhere (of course I can't find it now1) that whatever it is in beet juice that lowers blood pressure is also found in salad greens, so just keep eating your salad!

  15. The Bag Lady likes pickled beets, but thinks the sugar in them probably negates any healthful advantage.
    Sarah - hate to tell you, but the "baby" carrots they sell in bags in stores are really full-grown carrots that have been processed.
    The Bag Lady doesn't like store-bought carrots of any kind. They are tasteless. She grows her own carrots, and whether they are tiny or mature, they still taste better than the dreck they sell in the grocery stores.
    The Bag Lady's blood pressure and cholesterol are normal, in spite of her bad habits and carrying too much weight. Must just be genetics.

  16. I think I would just eat more beets, not beet juice.

    I've been on atenolol for HBP since August. It made me really tired at first -best to take it right before bed. My doctor says I may be able to go off of it if I lose some weight. I've lost 5 pounds and hope to lose more.

    R&T Mom

  17. Crabby, beets are gross! I am a truly picky eater and don't really like many veggies anyway, but beets are just gross!

  18. I think I ate a beet once. Somewhere, maybe. They're red, is that right?
    Then there was that red soup in the Russian Tea Room, in New York City. Didn't do that twice!
    I'm with Crabby on beets. They're red?
    Dr. J

  19. I'm back(...couldn't find the study...and now it's really irritating me.)

    What about adding a bunch of sugar to the beet juice? Like Sprite? Or Dr. Pepper or something? Yes, I'm sure that defeats the purpose and probably cancels out the benefits of the beet-iness, but that'd be the only way I could choke it down!

  20. No way could I drink straight beet juice, but this juice place near where I work blends it with apple and celery and it tastes pretty good. Beets are probably the only vegetable I flat out refuse to eat. They just look... suspicious.

  21. I used to like beets, but now they taste too sweet to my liking. Much like carrots, in fact -- today was the first day of 2008 when I ate carrots, when they used to be one of my staple veggies a few years ago. I guess tastes really do change with time. And yes, drinking beet juice seems kinda... uh... disgusting?

  22. You know, I don't think I've ever tried beets. If I have, it was obviously too long ago for me to remember.

    The vegetable that grosses me out is okra. I am opposed to slimy foods, and okra is one of them. I won't even make exceptions for breaded okra. It just makes me want to gag.

  23. I'm definately in tune with you on this one. I HATE beets, period, end of sentence.

    My father used to have a jar in the fridge with beet juice, in which he put hard boiled eggs to let them "pickle."

    Can you say, GROSS.............:)

  24. Ok, I really like beets, but . . . beet . . . JUICE?? And TWO CUPS a day?!?! I feel sick just thinking about it. I imagine it'd be like drinking sugar water - gross! (Not to mention the red pee Geosomin point out - ewwwww.)

    Have you tried meditation? Might be worth a shot if the alternative is pills. Also, a therapist once gave me a low-tech biofeedback thingy: it was a little tiny thermometer, and I held it against my finger while I breathed deeply. I haven't used it in forever, but I think the idea was to make the temperature rise: that meant your blood vessels were relaxing, and therefore the pressure on them was lower.

    But I might have that last part backwards, so if it's something you're interested in, you should definitely look it up first. :P

  25. I'm going to completely ignore the icky vegetable question. You also asked about bp meds. Best one, seriously, is a diuretic. The one I take (not for bp) is an unpronounceable generic that is abbreviated HTCZ. I think. Costs about four bucks for a three-month supply. I always feel like I'm putting one over on Big Pharma when I walk out of the pharmacy with the cheapest drug on their shelves. Heh.

  26. I don't like beets. Or brussels sprouts. Or celery. I can't imagine having to drink the juice of any of the above, either.
    Have you tried yoga?

  27. Wow this is so helpful--not just for moral support in hating beets, but the great info and advice about blood pressure stuff.

    (And even you beet lovers are very nice about it. Though I can't share your taste in veggies, I can at least admit that beets are a very pretty, vivid color. Just as long as I don't have to eat or drink them.)

    I wish I didn't suck at meditating, it's definitely supposed the best way to de-stress. But, well, I've tried 9 billion times and never had much luck. (Exaggerate? Who me?)

    I'm curious about diuretics too, if that's what a doctor someday suggests. I retain water like crazy and wonder if that could contribute to the problem.

    And for those of you with "bad" numbers of any kind, I totally sympathize. I think it's really unfair for healthy folks in their 20s to already be watching their cholesterol.

  28. Heya Crabby. Haven't commented in a while, but I've been lurking regularly. What can I say, I love the stealth. Muah.

    My Mother has had issues with her BP. Two things that came up:
    (1) Pomegranate Juice. For some people it has helped. Tastes better than beet juice. But as you know studies are like statistics: you can make them to be whatever you like. Just sayin....

    (2) One of her medications caused a significant drop in potassium to the point where she was hospitalized and almost died. If medication is in your future, please discuss with Doctor. (I believe this is related to the diuretic effect) Once she was placed on potassium supplementation she was fine.

    Hope this is helpful. As with anything, research, question, and question more. You can never have enough information when it comes to your own health. Just my humble opinion.

  29. "I retain water like crazy and wonder if that could contribute to the problem."
    Do yoga, eat beets, and meditate in a Sauna. Or, on second thought, just do the sauna :-)
    Dr. J

    PS As for young people and cholesterol numbers, eat healthy and be active and you wont have to worry about your numbers.

  30. Have you looked into garlic? I've been reading about it a lot recently and it seems like it might help with blood pressure.

  31. Muah -HA!
    I found it!
    It's here: Blood Pressure Increase

    (and guess what, it's not that great of an article...but now at least I'm not going to be bugged that I couldn't find it )

  32. Maybe you can pour the beet juice over something...or make soup out of it?? Two cups is a lot!
    I stole a beet recipe from y boyfriend's mom because it is the first time EVER that I have enjoyed beets. It is a pickled herring and beet salad. Sounds disgusting, but is about the best thing I've ever tasted. I made it for a party, and no one ate it because of the beets. Everyone was calling it "Purple Stuff", as in don;t eat the Purple Stuff. More for me, I guess.

  33. I'm not a big fan of beets, but I am on BP meds - although not for my BP... I've been on metoprolol for about 2 or 3 years as a migraine preventative. It's lowered my BP (so it's now always pretty low), and (I like to think) I get less migraines. A few months ago I cut back from a whole pill to a half pill every night (before bed) and got migraines almost every day for my 3 week experiment. Un-fun!! Needless to say I'm back to a full pill per day. Like someone else said, they're super cheap - 3 month supply for $3. That's the best part. hahaha... I'm curious if I'd finally drop those 5 lbs if I went off the pills, but migraines are miserable, so I'll stay on them for now...

    I'm not sure my comments were much help, but I wanted to contribute! I've been reading your blog for a few months and wanted to say hi! :o)

  34. OOH I love beets...on a greek salad. I never eat them any other time, but if I get a greek salad without beets I feel robbed.

  35. Thanks everyone! Dang, I wish I could respond to more comments.

    Rocio--I hear the okra slime-factor has to do with how you cook 'em. I've got Louisiana relatives who can make okra taste just fine but when others cook it and it gets slimy I'm totally with you: ewwww.

    J.C.--I love lurkers and thanks for the potassium warnings!

    Lazy man--I'm a big fan of garlic already, but can always use and excuse to have more.

    Holly, we should have greek salad together some day--you can have ALL my beets, I promise!

    And Claudia, thanks so much for stopping by and saying hi. I'm definitely curious about the metoprolol, especially since the Lobster has problems with migraines, and we didn't even know there was a preventative. Cheap drugs that cure multiple problems? Sounds great.

    Katieo, couldn't get the link to work but I'm still curious! Will have to keep my eye out for it.

    Cara--well, I actually LIKE pickled herring, and they have a such a strong flavor perhaps they'd be the perfect camouflage/complement to Evil Beets.

  36. Dang I hate working late... I miss most of the commentry.
    (Yes that is too a word. Because I said so, that's why.)

    Now you've all gone and made me curious. I had to go look up smoked herring and pickled herring and all that kind of stuff. Did you know that the English and the French once fought the Battle of the Herrings?

    Oh all right. I was just trying to be informative and stuff like that. I'll go away now... sniff

  37. You couldn't get it to work because I am stupid. Let me try this again.
    (Again. 4th comment for a pretty boring article....)

    I'll do it this way:

  38. See? All you had to do was say 'please' and it worked just fine :)

  39. I'm sure any battle is serious business but something about "The Battle of the Herrings" sounds kind of silly. It has me picturing two old guys fighting over a bucket of smelly fish.

    And Katieo, thank you! It's interesting that this problem is getting so much worse for women. And it's a good reminder that elevated bp is very controllable and those of us who are starting to have issues need to get our butts to the doctor's office.

  40. I just looked online to see about this beet juice thing. I ordered a couple of containers of the stuff that arrived today, also in hopes of naturally treating my high blood pressure problems.

    So, I poured about 1/2 cup as my husband stood by cringing and tried to drink it. The stuff could not taste more fowl- I mean, it was inhumanely disgusting. He was cheering me on to finish up the last ounce or so, even offered a shot glass. I tried to chug the last bit, but I think my body had enough beet juice by then and I puked it right back into the cup it came from- and had a bright pink/red mouth to top it off.

    So, now I have bottles of the stuff and am faced with what to do with them. I was told by the health store people that the stuff is highly coveted. BY WHOM?????

  41. Boy oh Boy,,,If you have tasted some thing and don't care for it ,,that's fine ...But to decide you don't like a veggie because or how it SOUNDS ,,or LOOKS or wether it makes you Pee some strange color is juvenile...Hubby better check to see to it the kids get what they NEED and not have good things left out because MOm thinks they look yuccy. I got on this forum to find out the pros and cons of taking beet supplement from ADULTS..I'll have to lok elsewere...

  42. drinking more than 2 oz of beet juice a day can make you very queasy because it detoxifies the liver, when I drink more than that I get really nausiated, I suggest take a little at a time.

  43. I realize this is a very old post, but...beet juice is really gross if you have it straight, but if you also juice some oranges (same amount), carrots (half as many), and a tiny chunk of ginger, it is amazing! The chromatic effect on the digestive system's output is, in fact, alarming.


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