Feb 5 – LONDON Researchers at Barts and The London School of Medicine have discovered that drinking just 500 ml [about a pint) of beetroot [beet] juice a day can significantly reduce blood pressure. The study, published in the February issue of the American Heart Association journal Hypertension
, could have major implications for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. (See: “Acute Blood Pressure Lowering, Vasoprotective, and Antiplatelet Properties of Dietary Nitrate via Bioconversion to Nitrite.”
Led by Professor Amrita Ahluwalia of the William Harvey Research Institute at Barts and The London School of Medicine, and Professor Ben Benjamin of Peninsula Medical School, the research reveals that it is the ingestion of dietary nitrate contained within beet juice - and similarly in green, leafy vegetables - which results ultimately in decreased blood pressure. Previously the protective effects of vegetable-rich diets had been attributed to their antioxidant vitamin content.
Impact in 1 Hour…
Professor Ahluwalia and her team found that in healthy volunteers blood pressure was reduced within just 1 hour of ingesting beetroot juice, with a peak drop occurring 3-4 hours after ingestion. Some degree of reduction continued to be observed until up to 24 hours after ingestion. Researchers showed that the decrease in blood pressure was due to the chemical formation of nitrite from the dietary nitrate in the juice.
Key Role for Saliva…
The nitrate in the juice is converted in saliva, by bacteria on the tongue, into nitrite. This nitrite-containing saliva is swallowed, and in the acidic environment of the stomach is either converted into nitric oxide or re-enters the circulation as nitrite. The peak time of reduction in blood pressure correlated with the appearance and peak levels of nitrite in the circulation, an effect that was absent in a second group of volunteers who refrained from swallowing their saliva during, and for 3 hours following, beet ingestion.
More than 25 per cent of the world’s adult population are hypertensive, and it has been estimated that this figure will increase to 29 per cent by 2025. In addition, hypertension causes around 50 per cent of coronary heart disease, and approximately 75 per cent of strokes. In demonstrating that nitrate is likely to underlie the cardio-protective effect of a vegetable-rich diet, the research of Professor Ahluwalia and her colleagues highlights the potential of a natural, low cost approach for the treatment of cardiovascular disease – a condition that kills over 110,000 people in England every year.
Weapon in the Battle for Cardiovascular Health?
Professor Ahluwalia said: "Our research suggests that drinking beet juice, or consuming other nitrate-rich vegetables, might be a simple way to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, and might also be an additional approach that one could take in the modern day battle against rising blood pressure.” [Though potentially inadvisable in more than modest amounts without a physician's review, for those taking medications with blood thinning and/or vasoexpanding effects.]
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Professor Ahluwalia may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org For more information contact University of London communications staffer Alex Fernandes at email@example.com.
Note: This information has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is generic and is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure any condition, illness, or disease. It is very important that you make no change in your healthcare plan or health support regimen without researching and discussing it in collaboration with your professional healthcare team.