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Friday, October 15, 2010

Drinking beetroot juice dramatically lowers risk of heart disease and strokes

(By Sophie Borland)

You'll look a little bloodthirsty while slurping it down.

But don't let that put you off beetroot juice - because it could save your life.

The bright-red juice contains the chemical nitrate, which dramatically reduces blood pressure, cutting the risk of heart disease and strokes.


Dramatic effect: Patients who drank a glass of beetroot juice a day were found to have significantly reduce blood pressure 24 hours later

Patients who drank a glass of beetroot juice a day were found to have significantly lower blood pressure just 24 hours later.

The findings, published in Hypertension, the journal of the American Heart Association, could now see beetroot juice being used as a treatment.

Researchers at William Harvey Research Institute at Queen Mary University in London compared patients who were given a 250ml glass of beetroot juice a day with those who took nitrate tablets.

They found that the two methods were equally successful in reducing blood pressure.

The researchers concluded that the nitrates which naturally occur in beetroot are the cause of its beneficial effects.

They produce a gas known as nitric oxide in the blood which widens blood vessels and arteries and lowers blood pressure.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects 16million Britons - one in five - and is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.

Amrita Ahluwalia, Professor of Vascular Biology at the William Harvey Research Insti tute, said: 'We showed that beetroot and nitrate capsules are equally effective in lowering blood pressure indicating that it is the nitrate content of beetroot juice that underlies its potential to reduce blood pressure.

'We also found that only a small amount of juice is needed - just 250ml - to have this effect, and that the higher the blood pressure at the start of the study the greater the decrease caused by the nitrate.

'Our previous study two years ago found that drinking beetroot juice lowered blood pressure; now we know how it works.'

Scientists have already showed how drinking beetroot juice can boost stamina.

Last year researchers from the University of Exeter and Peninsula Medical School found that it could have as much effect as a punishing training regime.

They found that healthy young men were able to increase their stamina by up to 16 per cent after drinking a glass of beetroot juice for a week.

Beetroot juice is found in most health food shops and usually costs around £2 a bottle.

Though very good for your body, it has one rather alarming side-effect.

Those who consume large amounts are likely to experience purple urine, or beeturia as it is known to scientists.


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