Washington, Feb 6 : A daily glass of beetroot juice can do wonders for hypertension and many cardiovascular diseases, say researchers at Barts and The London School of Medicine.
The study led by Professor Amrita Ahluwalia of the William Harvey Research Institute at Barts and The London School of Medicine, and Professor Ben Benjamin of Peninsula Medical School, may have major implications for the treatment of cardiovascular disease as it has been found that drinking just 500ml of beetroot juice a day can reduce blood pressure by a considerable level.
This study has disclosed that the ingestion of dietary nitrate in beetroot juice, just like in green, leafy vegetables, could eventually result in a decreased blood pressure.
Earlier, this effect of vegetable-rich diets was credited to their antioxidant vitamin content.
It was found that blood pressure was reduced within just 1 hour of ingesting beetroot juice in case of healthy volunteers, with a peak drop occurring 3-4 hours after ingestion. In fact a considerable degree of reduction continued until up to 24 hours after ingestion.
The researchers also displayed that the decrease in blood pressure was because of the chemical formation of nitrite from the dietary nitrate in the juice. This nitrate in the juice is converted in saliva, by bacteria on the tongue, into nitrite.
After this nitrite-containing saliva is swallowed, it is either converted into nitric oxide or re-enters the circulation as nitrite in the acidic environment of the stomach.
The peak time of reduction in blood pressure correlated with the appearance and peak levels of nitrite in the circulation, an effect that was absent in a second group of volunteers who refrained from swallowing their saliva during, and for 3 hours following, beetroot ingestion.
Hypertension is quite prevalent worldwide. It causes around 50 pct of coronary heart disease, and approximately 75 pct of strokes.
While showing nitrate's importance in cardio-protective effect of a vegetable-rich diet, this research also underlines the potential of a natural, low cost approach for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
" Our research suggests that drinking beetroot juice, or consuming other nitrate-rich vegetables, might be a simple way to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, and might also be an additional approach that one could take in the modern day battle against rising blood pressure," said Professor Ahluwalia.
The research is published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.