Approximately 50 percent of all heart failure patients suffer from reduced ejection fraction, a condition wherein the heart muscle contraction is ineffective, which in turn prevents adequate oxygen-rich blood from reaching the body. (Related: Beetroot juice improves athletic performance and cardiovascular health.)
A team of researchers from Washington University School of Medicine and Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) in the U.S carried out a randomized placebo-controlled, crossover type study with a one-week washout period. The research team originally recruited 10 people with a heart failure, but only eight of them completed the trial. They randomly gave the participants either 140 milliliters (mL) of beet juice or a placebo.
In addition, the research team measured the participants' blood nitrate and nitrite as well as breath nitric oxide levels before the intervention and two hours after the participants drank the beet juice or placebo. Moreover, they measured the participants' heart rate and blood pressure before, during, and after exercise. The exercise was composed of steady state pedaling on a cycle ergometer below peak exertion. After which, the intensity gradually increased until the participants wanted to stop. Furthermore, the researchers measured perceived exertion just before the end of every stage.
Results of the study revealed that the participants who drank beet juice exhibited significant improvements in exercise duration, peak power, as well as peak oxygen intake (VO2 peak), in comparison to those who drank the placebo juice. Despite this, no changes in breathing response or exercise efficiency were observed. On the other hand, beetroot juice was also found to be effective and have no side effects.
“The results of this proof-of-concept study demonstrate that acute ingestion of nitrate (in the form of a concentrated beetroot juice supplement) increases aerobic exercise performance and VO2 peak, but does not alter ventilatory responses or gross or delta efficiency during exercise, in patients with mild-to-moderate HfrEF,” said first author Andrew Coggan, of the IUPUI.
Coggan also noted that their findings are important because abnormalities in aerobic exercise responses contribute in the disability, loss of independence, and lowered quality of life that go together with heart failure. Moreover, increases in ventilatory demand and reductions in peak oxygen uptake are great indicators of mortality in individuals with heart failure.
Also known as beetroot, beet is a known superfood that can provide various health benefits. Beetroot and beet juice are good sources of many nutrients. For example, a cup of raw beet may provide 58 calories, 13 grams of carbohydrates, which include nine grams of sugar and four grams of fiber, and two grams of protein. On the other hand, a 296 ml bottle of beet juice can contain 44 calories, 11 grams of carbohydrate, including a gram of fiber and eight grams of sugar, and two grams of protein.
The superfood also contains vitamin C, which plays an important role in creating collagen and some neurotransmitters, as well as in the metabolism of proteins. It also contains iron, which is needed for growth, development, and cell function. Beet is also a good source of folate and manganese. Folate is essential for a healthy metabolism, supports skin and hair health, and protects the mouth from sores and ulcers. Moreover, adequate amounts of manganese can help prevent infertility, bone malformation, weakness, and seizures. Furthermore, beet contains thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, choline, betaine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and selenium.
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