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Beets With Benefits




It’s February! Naturally, it seems like a great month talk about heart health. At recent conferences I have attended in the USA, beets are a topic of discussion! But let’s first take a step back to understand cardiovascular disease, briefly.

 

Cardiovascular disease is often something that we associate with certain medical condition (i.e. diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart attack, etc.) and potentially as a hereditary syndrome in some cases as well. We also know that cardiovascular disease treatment foundations begin with lifestyle changes.

 

But, what if we looked at cardiovascular disease as a form of aging? What if we looked at it in terms of vascular aging? Simply put, vascular aging = changes in our blood vessels over time. Over time, our blood vessels such as our arteries can lose their elasticity, leading to what is scientifically known as arterial stiffness. As our vessels lose elasticity, the functional capacity of our blood vessels also decrease. This is referred to as endothelial dysfunction.

 

There are many aspects that can contribute to endothelial dysfunction. One integral component is the reduction of nitric oxide (NO) over time, which can promote cardiovascular disease. Nitric oxide has been shown to improve the following:

-       Blood flow

-       Blood pressure regulation

-       Blood vessel formation

-       Prevention of clot formation

-       Prevention of atherosclerosis (plaque formation in arteries)

-       Anti-inflammation in the blood vessel

 

Beets and its juices have been shown to increase conversion to nitric oxide and then relatively increase arginine synthesis. Arginine has been studied to help increased endothelial function & flow.  Some studies have shown beetroot juice to:

-       Increase cardiovascular endurance in athletes

-       Increase quality of high-intensity interval training in athletes

-       Improve health of patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension

-       Be a potential functional nutrition modulator to help prevent and manage cardiovascaular disease

 

Of course, more studies are required in humans regarding the use of beets and its active ingredients to help support cardiovascular disease. Also, more studies are required for the use of standardized extracts from beets (versus the juice, etc) and its safety as well in patients with cardiovascaular disease. Let this short blog serve as a resource for information, not as a treatment for any medical ailments you are going through. Always check with your primary care provider (MD or ND) before beginning any treatments that you may think could benefit you!

 

Happy February!

 

References:

 

Bock, Joshua et al. 2022. Dietary Inorganic Nitrate/Nitrite Supplementation Reduces Central and Peripheral Blood Pressure in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. American Journal of Hypertension. 35 (9):803-809.


Bryan, Nathan. 2018. Functional Nitric Oxide Nutrition to Combat Cardiovascular Disease. Current atherosclerosis reports. 20(5):21.


Dominguez, Raul et al. 2017. Effects of beetroot supplementation on cardiorespiratory endurance in athletes, a systematic review. Journal of Nutrients. 9(1):43.

 

Fadel, Paul. 2017. Nitric oxide & cardiovascular regulation. Journal of Hypertension, 69:778-779.


Henrohn, Den et al. 2018. Effects of Oral Supplementation With Nitrate-Rich Beetroot Juice in Patients With Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension-Results From BEET-PAH, an Exploratory Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study. Journal of Cardiac Failure. 24(10): 640-653.

 

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