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
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
An exercise physiologist who has been studying the
supplement for several years says it may be the secret of the football
"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.
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
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,
“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.
“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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