New research shows that a high-in-nitrates diet is beneficial for improving the heart muscle
Beetroot juice is a rich source of nitrates. Nitrates improve muscle performance of athletes, by our bodies converting them into nitric oxide that has positive effects on blood pressure and cardiovascular system.
Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, followed this lead to find out if dietary nitrates intake would have the same effect on heart failure patients, with poor quality of life, as senior study author Dr. Linda R. Peterson, associate professor of medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine, states about study aim:
“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. 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”.
The trial had only 9 participants, who followed a beet juice treatment, combined with placebo. Two hours after drinking the beet juice, patients having nitrates rich beet juice showed a 13% increase in muscle power.
The results can be compared with the ones of a psychical training program, as 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.”
The team of researchers aims to study nitrates’ effects on older patients health in the future.
“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. If we can boost muscle power like we did in this study, that could provide a significant benefit to older individuals”, Dr. Coggan explains.