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Scientists discover benefits of beetroot juice

Friday 19th February 2016
Beetroot juice has the potential to prevent heart failure, according to new research.
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Could drinking beetroot juice prevent the development of heart disease?

According to new research from the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina, serving beetroot juice to patients with cardiac problems could help to prevent them from suffering from heart failure.

Here, we take a look at the health credentials of beetroot juice, as well as how a daily dose of the liquid can stave off potentially fatal cardiovascular conditions - particularly heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFPEF).

Health properties of beetroot

Previous research has led to the discovery that beetroot can lower blood pressure, improve blood flow around the body and provide an extra burst of energy, potentially boosting people's athletic performance.

This is primarily because beetroot is high in nitrates, which have proven effective in the past for reducing blood pressure and subsequently preventing the development of cardiovascular conditions.

There is also evidence to suggest that beetroot - like the majority of fruits and vegetables - can aid digestion, alongside acting as an antioxidant, lowering glucose levels and halting the onset of type 2 diabetes.

In addition, a prior study from Wake Forest found that drinking regular glasses of beetroot juice may prevent dementia development, while scientists have also discovered that the substance can decrease inflammation in arthritic patients, easing their symptoms.

But how exactly does beetroot juice reduce the risk of heart failure?

Preventing heart failure with beetroot juice

Wake Forest researchers recruited 19 participants for their latest study, some of whom were given a daily dose of beetroot juice, while others were given just one single dose before being monitored for a week.

Their energy and blood pressure levels were measured following the first dose of beetroot juice, and again after seven days. Each portion was equivalent to six millimoles of inorganic nitrate.

It was found that after one week of drinking beetroot juice, participants' aerobic endurance increased by 24 per cent, whereas those who only had one portion of the liquid at the start of the week showed no signs of improvement.

What's more, the results showed that daily doses of beetroot juice also lowered patients' blood pressure, meaning the combination of boosted exercise levels and reduced hypertension could significantly reduce a person's risk of heart failure and other cardiovascular conditions.

Dalane Kitzman, professor of internal medicine at the centre and lead study author, commented: "Although larger trials need to be conducted, these initial findings suggest that one week of daily beetroot juice could be a potential therapeutic option to improve aerobic endurance in patients with HFPEF, which has implications for improving everyday activities and quality of life."

While further research is needed in this area, the initial findings indicate that beetroot juice can be significantly beneficial for patients' health - knowledge that dieticians and nutritionists would do well to bear in mind.

Written by Martin Lambert

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