Beetroot Juice Extends COPD Patients' Exercise Capacity

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who consume beetroot juice have less trouble exercising.

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who consume beetroot juice have less trouble exercising, according to a study published online in Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry.

Researchers from Wake Forest University compared a small group of COPD patients who drank beetroot juice, a form of dietary nitrite supplementation, before exercising with those who ingested a placebo drink. The participants completed baseline pulmonary function testing, filled out health status questionnaires, and completed an incremental exercise test to determine their maximal work rate.

"The intent of this study was to determine if acute ingestion of beetroot juice, which is rich with nitrates, prior to exercising could improve the exercise capacity of COPD patients," said lead study author Michael Berry in a press release.

The researchers found that COPD patients who consumed beetroot juice were able to extend their exercise times and had reduced active and resting blood pressure.

"One of the benefits of exercise is that if you get positive results, you're more likely to continue doing it,” Berry said. “If beetroot juice positively impacts those results, it could motivate COPD patients to continue to be physically active and improve their health."

According to Berry, this was the first study to demonstrate beneficial effects of dietary nitrite supplementation on exercise performance and blood pressure in COPD patients. The researchers now aim to conduct a larger study that will determine how nitrates’ mechanisms improve COPD patients’ physical function.