Beetroot juice might be the answer for patients with heart failure, suggests a new study whose findings have been published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure.
Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine planned to determine whether patients with heart failure would benefit from beet juice the way athletes do.
Beetroot juice is high in nitrates like other foods such as spinach, celery, and arugula. Past studies carried out by the same team of scientists suggest that dietary nitrates might enhance muscle power among sportsmen. The nitrates are converted into nitric oxide during physical exercise, thereby impacting positively on blood pressure and the health of the heart in general. This is what led the researchers to hypothesise that patients with heart failure might also undergo similar beneficial effects.
One of the authors explains that heart patients will benefit from having muscle power improved.
“A lot of the activities of daily living are power-based – getting out of a chair, lifting groceries, climbing stairs. And they have a major impact on quality of life,” says senior study author Dr. Linda R. Peterson, associate professor of medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine.
“We want to help make people more powerful because power is such an important predictor of how well people do, whether they have heart failure, cancer or other conditions,” Dr. Peterson adds.
Some patients were made to consume the juice as it is and others had to drink placebo beet juice which had no nitrates. The results showed that patients consuming beet juice with nitrates had a 13 % increase in muscle power that feeds the knee – the benefit was greatest when they moved at greatest speed.
Andrew R. Coggan, PhD, assistant professor of radiology at the Washington University School of Medicine, says:
“I have compared the beet-juice effect to Popeye eating his spinach. The magnitude of this improvement is comparable to that seen in heart failure patients who have done 2-3 months of resistance training.”
Now, the researchers wish to test older populations for the same effects.
“One problem in aging is the muscles get weaker, slower and less powerful. Beyond a certain age, people lose about 1% per year of their muscle function,” says Coggan. “If we can boost muscle power like we did in this study, that could provide a significant benefit to older individuals.”