July 17, 2024

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How Beet Juice Can Help Your Heart

3 min read

  • A new study showed drinking beet juice daily may improve heart health among postmenopausal women.
  • Beet juice stimulates the production of nitric oxide, which promotes better blood flow and circulation.
  • When looking for beet juice, choose 100% juice with no additives.

A new study suggests that drinking beet juice daily may enhance blood vessel function more effectively than a placebo. When adopted as a daily habit during postmenopausal years, this improvement may significantly reduce the risk of heart disease in postmenopausal women.

The findings were published this week in Frontiers in Nutrition.

Participants consumed two 2.3-ounce bottles of concentrated beet juice, followed by one bottle every morning for 7 days. After several weeks, they consumed beet juice without nitrate.

To measure vascular function, researchers analyzed blood vessel expansion when participants were and were not drinking the beet juice with nitrate.

Results showed that drinking the beet juice with nitrate daily improved blood flow in comparison to the nitrate-free beet juice.

However, the researchers found that neither treatment stopped the decline in blood vessel function after tissue damage had occurred in postmenopausal women.

The results also suggest that certain protective benefits of beetroot juice nitrate on blood vessels disappear within 24 hours after the last dose. Consistent daily or even more frequent intake of nitrate-rich beetroot juice might be necessary to maintain the protective effects on endothelial function.

This was a small, short-term study. Larger, long-term studies are needed to find the best dose and timing of nitrate intake to promote blood vessel function and heart health in postmenopausal women.

Jocelyn Delgado Spicuzza, PhD, of the Huck Institutes of Life Sciences at the Pennsylvania State University and first author on the study, explained how beet juice can help post-menopausal women.

“Consuming nitrate through plants is a secondary pathway to increase the availability of nitric oxide in the body, a molecule responsible for widening blood vessels to accommodate blood flow and oxygen delivery to organs such as the heart,” Delgado Spicuzza said in an emailed response. “Since estrogen is no longer sufficient to stimulate nitric oxide production in the body naturally following menopause, dietary nitrate can be converted to nitric oxide through the entero-salivary pathway to help maintain healthy blood vessel functioning.”

John Higgins, MD, sports cardiologist at UTHealth Houston, explained that in pre-menopausal women, estrogen has a protective effect on vascular function.

“Postmenopausal women have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease because they lose the protective effect of estrogen on vascular function and nitric oxide production which normally keeps the arteries flexible, fluid, and resistant to plaque formation,” said Higgins. “Other effects of age include postmenopausal women [who] are less active in general and gain weight, both of which are unhealthy.”

Higgins was not involved in the study.

Nitrate-rich beet juice promotes the production of systemic nitric oxide and improves endothelial function in older, healthy, and high heart disease-risk populations, Higgins explained.

In addition, it may help:

  • lower blood pressure
  • reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol
  • improve exercise stamina
  • improve muscle strength in people with heart failure
  • prevent or reduce fatty deposits from forming in your liver
  • support overall health during chemotherapy

The study showed drinking beet juice specifically impacted blood vessel function. Higgins pointed out that beet juice can help protect cells called endothelial cells that line arteries, veins and capillaries.

Beet juice directly targets and improves abnormal endothelial function by stimulating the production of nitric oxide. Through a chain reaction, your body changes nitrates found in beet juice into nitric oxide, which helps with blood flow and blood pressure, Higgins added.

“The vascular endothelium is an important barometer of health and wellness yet is often not discussed because it is out of sight,” Higgins stated. “Abnormal endothelial function is associated with detrimental medical conditions including diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.”

When shopping for beet juice in the store, paying attention to the ingredients is important.

“Look for a good fresh organic beetroot juice with 100% juice and little to no additives, natural juices are generally better than powdered,” said Higgins.

You can also check to make sure there are no added sugars.

Frequent beet juice consumption could boost heart health among postmenopausal women.

Beet juice improves blood vessel function by increasing the amount of nitric oxide in the body.

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