Beetroot could help treat heart failure

New research suggests that beetroot could be helpful for people with heart disease.

A team from Kansas State University led by David Poole, a professor of exercise kinesiology, anatomy, and physiology, has been studying the root vegetable’s benefits for a while. Last year, they published a study showing that the nitrate (a natural form of nitrogen found in soil) in beetroot increases blood flow to the muscles during exercise – and that the best way to get it is by drinking it.

As Science Daily reports, their latest paper, published in the Journal of Nitric Oxide, Biology and Chemistry, explains that beetroot juice increases blood flow to the muscle fibres used in fast bursts of exercise, improving sporting performance. The researchers found that daily consumption resulted in a 38% percent higher blood flow to these muscles. The benefits are so much more noticeable with beetroot than other vegetables (even those Holy Grail green leafy ones) because the nitrate is more concentrated.

This means, the scientists say, that it could have huge benefits for patients with heart failure, because improving blood flow can dramatically improve symptoms. Poole says that even a 10% improvement could be the difference between a patient being able to walk and needing a wheelchair.

In fact, patients with heart problems are often prescribed a synthetic nitrate to widen the blood vessels, thus allowing blood to flow more easily. But these can cause side effects including headaches and flushing, and may become less effective over time. Beetroot is more likely to be easily absorbed by the body.

Clinical trials are now underway, but in the meantime it seems like anyone who wants to feel more energised and awake could do a lot worse than starting the day with a shot of beetroot. Cheers!

Image via Jeremy Keith’s Flickr.

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