Heart failure

Beetroot juice trialled for its nitrate-mediated cardiometabolic effects

Beetroot juice is being investigated for its potential to prevent cardiac and metabolic complications in people with obesity, by Australian researchers with an interest in the vascular effects of nitrates.

With some evidence for its ability to improve exercise tolerance in patient groups and exercise performance in athletes via its content of nitric oxide, the study aims to help build the body of evidence for the humble vegetable.

Cardiologist Associate Professor Aaron Sverdlov, from the Hunter Medical Research Institute, told the limbic the simple and cheap dietary supplement was physiologically plausible and therefore hard to ignore.

“My earlier research and PhD focused on nitric oxide signaling. My current research interests are heart failure and there have been studies showing that beetroot juice by virtue of having a high nitrate concentration is beneficial in patients with heart failure. They had some improvement in exercise tolerance.”

beetroot juice

“The thought was if it works in heart failure and is fairly natural and easy to use, is it worth trying beetroot juice in people who are just obese and try to help them exercise and hence prevent cardiometabolic complications rather than wait for them to develop?”

The randomised, placebo controlled study in people with obesity and no known cardiac disease will test daily supplementation with beetroot juice with a known quantity of nitrate.

The Heart Foundation-funded study will run over eight weeks and measure exercise performance outcomes such as 6-minute walking test and VO2 max.

Associate Professor Sverdlov is optimistic the supplement can help people exercise a bit more with a view to losing weight.

“It’s a short duration study so is not powered for weight loss, only exercise performance. This is to help them break the cycle but cannot work on its own. There has to be the will to change and other dietary modification as well.”

He added there was probably more benefit in primary prevention than trying to treat existing disease.

Beetroot is rich in nitrates, which are metabolised by acid in the stomach to form nitric oxide and other reactive nitrogen species that have been shown to have a range of beneficial vascular effects.

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