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Nutrition, Vitamins & Supplements for Seniors

Beet Juice May Fuel Success of Auburn Football, And Heart Patients, Too

Increasing oxygen delivery 10% can be difference between being wheelchair-bound versus walking

beets and beet juiceOct. 23, 2014 - The juice from beets, commonly referred to as “beetroot,” has received a new boost from the report that it has become a pre-game favorite for the surging Auburn University football team. But new research says it not only improves athletic performance but can improve the quality of life for heart failure patients, which far outnumber football players.

An exercise physiologist who has been studying the supplement for several years says it may be the secret of the football team’s success.

"Our research, published in the journal Physiology in 2013, has shown that the nitrate found in beetroot concentrate increases blood flow to skeletal muscles during exercise," said David Poole, professor of exercise kinesiology and anatomy and physiology at Kansas State University.

The researchers' latest study was published in the Journal of Nitric Oxide, Biology and Chemistry.

 

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This work provides the basis for how beetroot juice may benefit football players by preferentially increasing blood flow to fast-twitch muscle fibers - the ones used for explosive running. The research also found that beetroot juice can improve the quality of life for heart failure patients.

"Remember, for every one football player in the United States, there are many thousands of heart failure patients that would benefit from this therapy," Poole said.

"It's a big deal because even if you can only increase oxygen delivery by 10 percent, that can be the difference between a patient being wheelchair-bound versus getting up and walking around and interacting with his or her family."

The benefits of beetroot come from the nitrate found within it. The amount of nitrate in one 70-milliliter bottle of beetroot juice is about the same amount found in 100 grams of spinach.

"When consumed, nitrate is reduced in the mouth by bacteria into nitrite," Ferguson said. "The nitrite is swallowed again and then reduced to nitric oxide, which is a potent vasodilator. The nitric oxide dilates the blood vessels, similar to turning on a water faucet, and allows blood to go where it needs to go."

The beetroot juice consumption resulted in a 38 percent higher blood flow to the skeletal muscles during exercise and was preferential to the less-oxygenated, fast-twitch muscles.

"Heart failure is a disease where oxygen delivery to particular tissues, especially working skeletal muscles, is impaired, decreasing the capacity to move the arms or legs and be physically active," Poole said.

"The best therapy for these patients is getting up and moving around. However, that is often difficult. Increasing the oxygen delivery to these muscles through beetroot can provide a therapeutic avenue to improve the quality of life for these patients."

Clinical trials are currently underway.

Drinking cup of beetroot juice daily may help lower blood pressure

A cup of beetroot juice a day may help reduce your blood pressure, according to a small study in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension in April of 2013.

People with high blood pressure who drank about 8 ounces of beetroot juice experienced a decrease in blood pressure of about 10 mm Hg. But the preliminary findings don’t yet suggest that supplementing your diet with beetroot juice benefits your health, researchers said.

“Our hope is that increasing one’s intake of vegetables with a high dietary nitrate content, such as green leafy vegetables or beetroot, might be a lifestyle approach that one could easily employ to improve cardiovascular health,” said Amrita Ahluwalia, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a professor of vascular pharmacology at The Barts and The London Medical School in London.

The beetroot juice contained about 0.2g of dietary nitrate, levels one might find in a large bowl of lettuce or perhaps two beetroots. In the body the nitrate is converted to a chemical called nitrite and then to nitric oxide in the blood. Nitric oxide is a gas that widens blood vessels and aids blood flow.

“We were surprised by how little nitrate was needed to see such a large effect,” said Amrita Ahluwalia, Ph.D., lead author. “This study shows that compared to individuals with healthy blood pressure much less nitrate is needed to produce the kinds of decreases in blood pressure that might provide clinical benefits in people who need to lower their blood pressure.”

 Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers.  Systolic blood pressure, which is the top number and the highest, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats.  Diastolic blood pressure, the bottom and lower number, measures blood pressure in the arteries between heart beats.

Compared with the placebo group, participants drinking beetroot juice had reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure - even after nitrite circulating in the blood had returned to their previous levels prior to drinking beetroot. The effect was most pronounced three to six hours after drinking the juice but still present even 24 hours later.

In the United States, more than 77 million adults have diagnosed high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart diseases and stroke. Eating vegetables rich in dietary nitrate and other critical nutrients may be an accessible and inexpensive way to manage blood pressure, Ahluwalia said.

The Truth About Beet Juice - WebMD

 “Most lists of ‘super foods’ don't include beetroot juice, but maybe they should,’ writes Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD  in a WebMD Feature, The Truth About Beet Juice.

“Beet juice may boost stamina to help you exercise longer, improve blood flow, and help lower blood pressure, some research shows,” she adds.

“Why? Beets are rich in natural chemicals called nitrates. Through a chain reaction, your body changes nitrates into nitric oxide, which helps with blood flow and blood pressure.”

Even Doctor Oz, The Benefits of Beet Juice.

“Beetroot juice is one of the richest dietary sources of antioxidants and naturally occurring nitrates,” says the Doctor Oz report. “Nitrates are compounds which improve blood flow throughout the body – including the brain, heart, and muscles. These natural nitrates increase a molecule in the blood vessels called nitric oxide, which helps open up the vessels and allows more oxygen flow as well as lower blood pressure.

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