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Beetroot Juice Supplements Lower Blood Pressure In COPD Patients

12-week course of daily beetroot juice improves exercise capacity, reduces blood pressure in people with serious lung conditions.
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Trendy beetroot juice supplements lower blood pressure and improve exercise capacity in people with serious lung conditions, according to a new study. Researchers found that a 12-week course of a daily beetroot juice supplement for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) reduced their blood pressure and improved how far patients could walk in six minutes.


Beetroot juice is routinely taken by top athletes – including Premier League footballers and England cricketers – to aid their recovery after matches. It first became popular among sports stars after Leicester City players credited the juice with helping them recover quicker and avoid injury during their shock surge to the Premier League title in 2016.


COPD, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, affects around 400 million people worldwide.

It causes breathing difficulties and severely limits people’s capacity for physical activity. It also increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.


The new research, published in the European Respiratory Journal, tested a concentrated beetroot juice supplement that is high in nitrate against a beetroot juice placebo that looked and tasted the same but had the nitrate removed.

The study was conducted by researchers at Imperial College London, led by Professor Nicholas Hopkinson.


 “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 Hopkinson.

“Higher levels of nitrate in the blood can increase the availability of nitric oxide, a chemical that helps blood vessels relax. “It also increases the efficiency of muscles, meaning they need less oxygen to do the same work.”


The study included 81 people with COPD who were being treated at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London and whose systolic blood pressure measured higher than 130 millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

Systolic blood pressure is the highest level your blood pressure reaches when your heart beats and the ideal range is between 90 and 120mmHg.


As well as monitoring patients’ blood pressure, the research team tested how far patients could walk in six minutes at the beginning and end of the study.

Participants were randomly allocated to either receive the 12-month course of nitrate-rich beetroot supplement or the placebo.

Researchers found that those taking the nitrate-rich supplement experienced an average reduction in systolic blood pressure of 4.5mmHg compared to those taking the placebo. There was also an average increase of around 30 meters (98 feet) in how far patients could walk in six minutes for those taking the nitrate-rich beetroot juice.

Hopkinson said: “At the end of the study, we found that the blood pressure of people taking the nitrate-rich beetroot juice drink was lower and their blood vessels became less stiff.


“The juice also increased how far people with COPD could walk in six minutes compared to placebo,” he added. “This is one of the longest-duration studies in this area so far. “The results are very promising, but will need to be confirmed in larger, longer-term studies.”


Professor Apostolos Bossios, Head of the European Respiratory Society’s airway disease assembly, welcomed the findings. Bossios, of the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, said: “COPD cannot be cured so there is a pressing need to help patients live as well as they can with the condition and to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.


“Patients taking part in this trial generally found the beetroot juice supplement acceptable and they saw benefits in terms of their blood pressure and mobility.

“This suggests they may see improvements in everyday life and should have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, but we will have to study patients for longer to confirm if this is the case.”


He added: “Beetroot juice has been consumed widely and tested in other research, so it has the potential to be a safe treatment for people with COPD.”


Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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