Beetroots and beetroot juice are again being hailed for their health benefits. Beetroot contains a high concentration of dietary nitrates which, when consumed, increase nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide decreases blood pressure by signaling the blood vessels to expand, allowing more blood flow, oxygen and other nutrients to get to the cells. This exciting news is just the latest in a long line of research showing the power of nitric oxide and foods that deliver the nutrients used in generating it.
The recent study, reported by Fox News, WSJ, Daily Mail and others, was conducted at Queen Mary, University of London, and reported in a recent American Heart Association journal. It indicates that drinking a glass of beetroot juice once a day could help to lessen hypertension. Initially, the study was done with rats, who consumed beetroot, fennel, cabbage, and lettuce had a lower blood pressure than the control group. They followed the rat research up with a small study of 15 patients who had high blood pressure. After drinking the juice or water with a low amount of nitrate, the patients were found to have a 10 point decrease in blood pressure levels over the following 24 hrs.
Amrita Ahluwalia, professor of vascular pharmacology at The Barts and The London Medical School in London and lead author of the study said that she was surprised “how little nitrate was needed to see such a large effect.”
Additionally, in two studies at the University of Exeter, on 15 men, researchers discovered that the cyclists who drank about 16 ounces of beet juice prior to exercise were able to run up to 20 percent longer than those who drank a placebo, black currant juice .
In reviewing the cyclists under a scanner that analyzes the amount of energy needed for a muscle to contract, these researchers found that the beet juice allows the rider to exercise using less oxygen than usual … more.
As you know, nitric oxide which is generated by the nitrates from beetroot, signals the blood vessels to expand. This vaso-dilation has been linked to numerous improvements in health including the reduction in blood pressure and endurance mentioned above, but also wound healing, muscle building, diabetic neuropathy, pain control, hair regrowth, erectile dysfunction, fat loss, just to name a few.
These studies are small but tantalizing. No wonder supplements like Neo40 and CircO2 include beetroot in their formulations. A good thing too. Many people don’t like the taste of beets (myself included) and taking too much can cause intestinal discomfort and even purple urine! It probably won’t kill you, but it might freak some people out a little bit :-).
The same group of researchers at the University of Exeter also found similar beneficial results when they gave participants a supplement containing L-Arginine. So the good news is that you can get the benefits of beet roots without necessarily having to eat or drink them, but by taking over the counter supplements like Nitrix or Hemavol.
You can find other foods that contribute to nitric oxide generation in your body as well as supplements that boost NO on NitricOxide.org.