Can drinking a glass of beetroot juice daily aid people with coronary heart disease?


Beetroot is associated with a range of health benefits — from improving digestive health to keeping blood pressure in check. And now, according to new research, a daily glass of beetroot could prove beneficial in reducing harmful inflammation in people with coronary heart disease.

Coronary artery disease (CAD), or coronary heart disease, develops when the coronary arteries become too narrow or cholesterol blockages develop in the wall, according to Medical News Today. The plaques created due to cholesterol build-up can cause inflammation in the walls of the blood vessel.

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Inflammation is vital to protect the body from injury and infection,” Dr Asad Shabbir, a clinical research fellow at the Queen Mary University of London, which led the research, said. “However, in people with coronary heart disease, persistent inflammation can exacerbate the furring of the arteries, making their condition worse and increasing their risk of a heart attack.”

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He added that “a daily glass of beetroot juice could be one way to get inorganic nitrate into our diet to help to interrupt harmful inflammation“.

Funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and presented at the British Cardiovascular Society Conference in Manchester, the research investigated whether a daily beetroot juice high in inorganic nitrate would increase levels of nitric oxide, and whether this would affect inflammation.

For the same, the researchers studied 114 health volunteers. Of these, 78 received a typhoid vaccine to temporarily increase inflammation in their blood vessels and 36 were given a cream to create a small blister on their skin and produce localised inflammation. Next, they were asked to drink 140ml of beetroot juice every morning for seven days. While half of the volunteers drank juice which was high in nitrate, the other half drank juice that had the nitrate removed.

Persistent inflammation, associated with coronary heart disease, could increase the risk of heart attack (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

In people who were given the typhoid vaccine and drank the nitrate-rich juice, higher levels of nitric oxide were found in blood, urine and saliva.

Explaining the same, Dr Pradeep Mahindrakar, MD Pathology, Lab Director, Micron Metropolis Healthcare Pvt Ltd, Panvel- Navi Mumbai, said that “nitric oxide has important anti-inflammatory effects”. “However, levels of nitric oxide are lower in people with heart and circulatory conditions as the enzyme that produces it is less active. Inflammation is vital to protect the body from injury and infection. However, in people with coronary heart disease, persistent inflammation can exacerbate the furring of the arteries, making their condition worse and increasing their risk of a heart attack,” he said.

The high nitrate in beetroot, according to Dr Mahindrakar, appears to restore the function of the endothelium, the cells that line the inside of all blood vessels. “The endothelium is crucial to keep blood vessels functioning normally, but this is lost in inflammation.”

A daily glass of beetroot juice could be one way to get inorganic nitrate into our diet to help to interrupt harmful inflammation and would increase levels of nitric oxide. Thus, it can help prevent heart attack,” he added.

The expert suggested drinking beetroot juice daily considering its various health benefits. “Recommended intake is 70-140 ml of beetroot juice or 7/8 cup of baked beetroot daily,” he said.

Some other health benefits of beetroot juice, according to Dr Mahindrakar.

*Lowers the blood pressure: Nitrate, compounds in beet juice that convert into nitric oxide in the blood and help widen and relax blood vessels.
*Improves exercise stamina: Beet juice increases plasma nitrate levels and boosts physical performance.
*Improve muscle power in people with heart failure.
*Slow the progression of dementia: Nitrates may help increase blood flow in the brain of older people and help slow cognitive decline.
*Helps you maintain a healthy weight: Beet juice is low in calories and has virtually no fat.
*May prevent cancer: Beets get their rich colour from betalains, which are water-soluble antioxidants.
*Good source of potassium and other minerals: Beets are a good source of potassium and other minerals, which helps nerves and muscles function properly.
*Supports your liver: The antioxidant betaine potentially helps prevent or reduce fatty deposits in the liver. Betaine may also help protect your liver from toxins.

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