A new study finds regular consumption of beetroot juice can reduce high blood pressure and heart attack, the two common symptoms of heart disease.
Beetroot, or called simply beet, is now hailed as a superfood, thanks to an abundance of vitamins, minerals and powerful antioxidants it comes naturally loaded with. A rich source of iron, beet is known to confer a host of health benefits, ranging from improving immune system to producing new blood cells.
Now researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada commend this ruby red vegetable for its preventions against heart disease.
According to the researchers, consuming beetroot juice on regular basis can help lower the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure (hypertension).
The research team looked specifically at dietary nitrate- a compound found in beetroot juice- and found this substance dilates blood vessels to decrease blood pressure. The team found that the compound also reduces overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system that is seen in heart disease patients and causes the heart to beat faster.
Dietary nitrate in the beetroot juice lowers overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system that occurs due to increased sympathetic nerve activity.
In their study, the research team included a group of 20 young adult volunteers with an average age of 27. The volunteers took part in two tests where they blindly received either a nitrate supplement or a placebo.
On both test visits, the researchers recorded each participant’s blood pressure, heart rate and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) and also measured their muscle activity at rest and during handgrip exercise. Measurements were taken both at the beginning and after intake of nitrate-rich beetroot juice or a placebo and a 3-hour rest.
The findings revealed the MSNA burst rate was lower when the participants drank beetroot juice in comparison to a placebo intake. The sympathetic nerve activity, which may cause hypertension and heart failure, was also found to decrease during exercise.
“Surprisingly, no differences in blood pressure were detected at rest or during exercise,” researchers said.
“These results provide proof-of-concept that dietary nitrate supplementation can modulate central sympathetic outflow and suggest that the established cardiovascular benefits of dietary nitrate are likely to involve a neural contribution,” they said.
The researchers assert their findings have important implication that dietary nitrate supplement can be used as an alternative intervention to mitigate the exaggeration of sympathetic outflow in patients with cardiovascular disease.
The study findings are published in the American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology.