This one vegetable can lower systolic blood pressure!
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Previous studies have shown that beet juice, also known as beetroot juice, can lower blood pressure in a laboratory setting. But researchers say this is the first study to look at the effects of adding beet juice to a healthy person’s diet without making any other diet or lifestyle changes.
The results appear in Nutrition Journal.
In the study, 15 men and 15 women drank either 17.6 ounces of a beet juice beverage consisting of about three-fourths beet juice and one-fourth apple juice, or a placebo juice. They were then monitored for 24 hours. The same procedure was repeated two weeks later, with those who drank the placebo on the first round receiving beetroot juice on the second.
Among both men and women, the results showed a trend to lower systolic blood pressure si hours after drinking the beet juice.But when researchers limited their analysis to men only, they found a significant reduction of about 4.7 points among those who drank the beetroot juice.Previous studies have also suggested that beetroot’s blood-pressure-lowering effects may not be as strong in women.In this case, Coles says it may be partially explained by the fact that the women in the study tended to be older, and many were on prescription medications, such as oral contraceptives.
Nitrates Behind Blood Pressure Effect
Experts say it’s the high concentration of nitrates in beets that are responsible for the benefits.In a lengthy biological process, nitrates from dietary sources like beets and leafy green vegetables are converted to nitric oxide within the body. The nitric oxide then relaxes blood vessels and dilates them, which helps the blood flow more easily and lowers blood pressure.“Whether from foods or from juice, you are seeing a consistent effect of nitrates in lowering blood pressure,” says registered dietitian Norman Hord, PhD, MPH, an associate professor at College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore. “It’s probably the most potent blood-pressure-lowering component of the diet.
Hord says previous studies have found more impressive reductions in blood pressure of up to 10 points when researchers measured blood pressure within three hours of drinking beet juice.Although more research is needed to better understand the long-term effects of nitrates on blood pressure, Hord says eating a diet rich in nitrates, from natural sources like beets and leafy green vegetables, is good advice..“
“It’s promising that we can see an effect from a single dose,” says researcher Leah Coles, PhD, a research fellow at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia. “That effect might be even greater over the long term if they are drinking it day upon day.” The dramatic results of the IDI Study indicate that beet juice from raw beets acts as well as pharmaceuticals and can be classified as a natraceutical.
While nitrate is found in all vegetables, it’s especially abundant in beetroot and leafy greens. Dietary nitrate lowers blood pressure, thereby helping protect the heart.1 Recent research suggests that dietary nitrate supplementation in the form of beetroot juice not only decreases blood pressure but also reduces the amount of oxygen needed during exercise and enhances athletic performance.2 The blood pressure and athletic performance benefits are likely mediated through the metabolic conversion of dietary nitrate (NO3) to biologically active nitrite (NO2) and then to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has numerous functions in the body, including the regulation of blood flow, muscle contractility, glucose and calcium homeostasis, and mitochondrial respiration and biogenesis.3
This continuing education activity will provide a comprehensive review of recent research findings on the health benefits of beetroot juice and evaluate how nitrate lowers blood pressure, reduces the oxygen cost of exercise, and improves athletic performance.
Dietary Nitrate, Nitrite, and Nitric Oxide
Dietary nitrate is absorbed rapidly from the stomach and small intestine. About 25% of ingested nitrate enters the enterosalivary circulation, where it’s reduced to nitrite by bacterial nitrate reductases from symbiotic anaerobic bacteria on the surface of the tongue. This nitrite is swallowed and reduced to nitric oxide in the acidic environment of the stomach or is absorbed via the gastrointestinal tract and reenters the circulation as nitrite.
Nitric oxide is a potent vasodilator that governs systemic blood pressure and retards atherogenesis by inhibiting inflammatory cell recruitment and platelet aggregation. Nitric oxide is generated by two known pathways: the oxidation of L-arginine by endothelial nitric oxide synthase (NOS), requiring the presence of oxygen and several essential cofactors, and by the reduction of nitrate-derived nitrite to nitric oxide.
Numerous cardiovascular pathologies (atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease risk factors such as hypertension and hyperlipidemia) are associated with endothelial dysfunction and diminished nitric oxide activity. Nitrite derived from dietary nitrate provides an alternative source of vasoprotective nitric oxide via the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway when conventional nitric oxide synthesis is impaired. Thus, during ischemia or hypoxemia (conditions that inactivate endothelial nitric oxide synthase), nitrate helps preserve nitric oxide production.
Independent of its role as a source of nitric oxide, nitrite provides protection against ischemia/reperfusion injury in the myocardial, hepatic, renal, pulmonary, and cerebral vasculature. Nitrite also causes dose-dependent vasodilatation in the brachial artery of healthy individuals, indicating that it may have an important role in maintaining normal cardiovascular homeostasis.
Lowering Blood Pressure
Webb and colleagues1 evaluated the effects of 0.5 L of beetroot juice (22.5 mmol of nitrate) on blood pressure, plasma nitrite concentrations, and endothelial function. Systolic blood pressure dropped 10.4 mm Hg three hours after ingestion, and diastolic blood pressure fell 8 mm Hg 2 1/2 hours after ingestion. Plasma nitrite increased twofold after beetroot juice ingestion, reached a peak at three hours, and correlated with the decreases in blood pressure. Researchers measured endothelial function by brachial artery flow-mediated vasodilation after ischemic occlusion of the forearm. Beetroot juice significantly prevented endothelial dysfunction induced by an acute ischemic insult in the forearm and attenuated ex vivo platelet aggregation.
The researchers also evaluated the effect of spitting out all saliva during and after beetroot juice ingestion on blood pressure and plasma nitrate concentrations. Spitting out saliva interrupted the enterosalivary circulation, thereby preventing nitrite-rich saliva from reaching the stomach. Compared with swallowing, spitting blocked the rise in plasma nitrite concentration, prevented the decrease in systolic blood pressure, and had no effect on platelet aggregation. Thus, the physiological effects of dietary nitrate are due to the production of nitrite from symbiotic anaerobic bacteria on the surface of the tongue rather than from the nitrate itself.
Oxygen Cost of Exercise and Blood Pressure
Preliminary research suggested that consuming a large dose of pharmaceutical sodium nitrate (0.1 mmol/kg/day for three days) resulted in a lower oxygen cost during submaximal cycling.4 In practical terms, the nitrate supplementation improved exercise economy—the muscles used less oxygen for a given work rate. This finding was surprising and challenged a fundamental principle of human exercise physiology: During submaximal exercise, there’s a predictable oxygen cost for a given work rate. Furthermore, the increase in oxygen uptake is linearly related to the increase in work rate, and this relationship can’t be altered.
As a result, Bailey and other researchers in the United Kingdom became interested in whether they could obtain similar results when administering the nitrate dose in the form of nitrate-rich beetroot juice. This distinction is important since sodium nitrate is considered a drug, whereas beetroot juice is a natural food product individuals can readily include in the diet.
Nitrate levels in vegetables and vegetable juices can vary considerably, depending on many factors. So to provide a consistent nitrate dose (approximately 5 to 6 mmol), most of the studies evaluating the effect of beetroot juice on the oxygen cost of exercise have used Beet It beetroot juice.
Bailey and associates evaluated the effect of beetroot juice consumption for six days on the oxygen cost of moderate- and high-intensity exercise, blood pressure, and plasma nitrite concentrations. The subjects consumed 0.5 L of Beet It (5.5 mmol of nitrate) or placebo (a black current cordial with negligible nitrate) for six days and completed a series of low- and high-intensity cycling tests on the last three days. On days 4 to 6, plasma nitrite concentration was significantly higher and systolic blood pressure was dramatically lower (8 mm Hg) in subjects who drank beetroot juice compared with placebo. The beetroot juice significantly reduced the oxygen cost of moderate-intensity cycling exercise by 19% and increased the time to exhaustion during high-intensity cycling by 17%.
Bailey and colleagues conducted a follow-up study to determine the mechanisms by which beetroot juice lowered the oxygen cost of moderate-intensity exercise and improved tolerance of high-intensity exercise. Subjects consumed 0.5 L of Beet It (5.1 mmol of nitrate) or placebo (the black current cordial) for six days and completed a series of low- and high-intensity knee extensor exercises in the prone position on the last three days. Beetroot juice more than doubled plasma nitrite concentration and reduced the oxygen cost and rate of phosphocreatine breakdown during low- and high-intensity exercise. Compared with placebo, beetroot juice significantly lowered systolic blood pressure by 5 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 2 mm Hg. Beetroot juice greatly reduced the oxygen cost of moderate-intensity knee extensor exercise by 25% and increased the time to exhaustion during high-intensity knee extensor exercise by 25%.
Beetroot juice appears to lower the oxygen cost of exercise by reducing the total ATP cost of muscle force production—the muscles use less ATP to produce the same amount of work. Beetroot juice also decreases the breakdown of phosphocreatine (the limited reserve of high-energy phosphate that resynthesizes ATP), thus lessening muscle metabolic disruption.5 These changes may be due to an increased efficiency of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation or increased efficiency of calcium transport by the sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca-ATPases. Dietary nitrate supplementation also may improve exercise performance by increasing blood flow to the exercising muscles and improving the match between blood flow and oxygen uptake.
Bailey and colleagues5 noted that the protective effect of nitrite on infarct size that’s been reported in experimental models of myocardial ischemia may be due to a nitric oxide-mediated reduction in the energy (and oxygen cost) of contraction in the heart in addition to enhanced perfusion of ischemic areas.
Vanhatalo and other UK researchers investigated the acute (2 1/2 hour) and chronic (up to 15 days) effects of dietary nitrate supplementation on blood pressure and the physiological responses to moderate-intensity and incremental cycling exercise. The subjects consumed 0.5 L of Beet It (5.2 mmol of nitrate) or placebo (the black current cordial). The exercise protocol (two moderate-intensity step tests followed by a ramp test) was repeated 2 1/2 hours following the first ingestion and after five and 15 days.
Beetroot juice significantly elevated plasma nitrite concentration throughout the 15-day test period, and this was accompanied by a marked reduction in systolic (4 mm Hg) and diastolic (4 mm Hg) blood pressure. These effects tended to be more pronounced after 12 days of dietary nitrate supplementation. Compared with placebo, the oxygen cost during moderate exercise was acutely reduced by 4% after 2 1/2 hours and remained similarly lowered after five and 15 days of continual beetroot juice ingestion. While beetroot juice had no acute effects on maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) and the gas exchange threshold, these parameters of aerobic fitness rose after 15 days of supplementation.
The oxygen cost of moderate exercise didn’t decrease as much as in previous studies, but the subjects’ normal dietary nitrate intake wasn’t restricted at any time during the study period. more research data Reap the benefits
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