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Beetroot juice could help heart failure recovery

beetroot

Beetroot juice could help patients with heart failure to improve their muscle strength, a new US study suggests. 

The nitrate-filled juice has been popular among athletes for some time, as nitrates are known to improve muscle performance. 

Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis wanted to see if patients with heart failure could achieve the same benefits.

 

Athletes and heart patients

The nitrates in beetroot juice get converted to nitric oxide during exercise. This helps to relax blood vessels (vasodilatation), which increases blood flow. 

The research team looked at whether these nitrates could help heart failure patients suffering from a loss of pumping capacity. 

They gave 9 patients a mix of either beetroot juice, or beetroot juice with the nitrates removed. 

After 2 hours, those who drank the beetroot juice with nitrates showed a 13% increase in the power of the muscles that extend the knee.

 

Equivalent of resistance training

Andrew R. Coggan, assistant professor of radiology at the School of Medicine, says the improvement is similar to that seen in heart failure patients who had undergone a 2 to 3 month programme of resistance training. 

The team’s next step is to test their theories on older patients. 

Dr Coggan says that, beyond a certain age, people start to lose about 1% per year of their muscle function. 

They hope the beetroot juice and nitrates can provide similar benefits to these older individuals.

 

Where can I find nitrates?

Nitrates are the active ingredient in beetroot juice but can also be found in a number of leafy vegetables such as: 

  • Celery
  • Cress
  • Chervil
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Rocket 

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