Beetroot Juice Supplement May Be Beneficial for Patients With COPD

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A 12-week supplement improved systolic blood pressure in this patient group more than placebo.

Nitrate-rich beetroot juice supplement may improve blood pressure and physical activity outcomes in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to study authors who published their findings in the European Respiratory Journal.1

“There is some evidence that beetroot juice as a source of nitrate supplementation could be used by athletes to improve their performance, as well as a few short-term studies looking at blood pressure,” said study lead Nicholas Hopkinson, Imperial College London, UK, in a recent press release.1

Beetroot juice is high in nitrates and “high levels of nitrate blood can increase the availability of nitric oxide, a chemical that helps blood vessels relax,” Hopkinson said in the press release. The researcher added that nitric oxide can also improve muscle efficiency, “meaning they need less oxygen to do the same work.”1

Researchers with Imperial College London evaluated beetroot juice supplementation for systolic blood pressure and walking distance (6 minute) in patients with COPD. A condition that is characterized by chronic bronchitis and emphysema, COPD causes severe breathing difficulties, limits physical activity, and increases patient risk of heart attack and stroke.1

Researchers with Imperial College London evaluated beetroot juice supplementation for systolic blood pressure and walking distance (6 minute) in patients with COPD. Image Credit: © Daniel Vincek - stock.adobe.com

Researchers with Imperial College London evaluated beetroot juice supplementation for systolic blood pressure and walking distance (6 minute) in patients with COPD. Image Credit: © Daniel Vincek - stock.adobe.com

During the study, researchers compared the effects of a once-daily supplement of high-nitrate concentrated beetroot juice—which contained 70 mL of concentrated beetroot juice and 400 mg of nitrate—against beetroot juice placebo on study outcomes in 81 patients with COPD for 12 weeks. Patients had high systolic blood pressure measured above 130 mm of mercury (mmHg).2

The researchers found that the nitrate-rich supplement reduced systolic blood pressure by an average of 4.5 mmHg compared to placebo, and “their blood vessels became less stiff,” according to Hopkinson. The supplement also increased average walking distance, and patients walked approximately 30 minutes further compared to patients taking placebo.1

Beetroot is a widely cultivated food that could be used to treat or prevent various diseases, according to a literature review published in Food, Science & Nutrition. It contains a beneficial source of proteins, carbohydrates, fat, amino acids, fatty acids, phytosterols, minerals, and fibers per 100 g of wet weight, and it also contains a slew if bioactive phytonutrients, nitrates, and vitamins.2

Outside of its therapeutic benefits, beetroot is also becoming favored as a dietary supplement to improve physical performance in healthy adults. Multiple studies have evaluated beetroot—and specifically the nitrates in beetroot—for athletic performance in healthy individuals. It was shown to boost exercise tolerance and capacity in the aerobic setting in some studies while others saw no additional benefits, so the authors noted more research is needed.1

The current study has demonstrated that beetroot holds promising results for COPD, according to authors, “but [results] will need to be confirmed in larger, longer-term studies,” Hopkinson said in the press release.1

REFERENCES

  1. Beetroot juice supplement lowers blood pressure and improves exercise capacity in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. European Respiratory Society. December 19, 2023. Accessed on January 12, 2024. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/1011363
  2. Chen L, Zhu Y, Hu Z, Wu S, and Jin C. Beetroot as a functional food with huge health benefits: Antioxidant, antitumor, physical function, and chronic metabolomics activity. Food Sci Nutr. 2021 Nov; 9(11): 6406–6420. doi: 10.1002/fsn3.2577
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