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Research  Does a beet a day keep heart disease away?

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https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/1047680

INTRO: After women go through menopause, their risk of heart disease increases dramatically. To improve and support heart and blood vessel health among postmenopausal women, researchers at Penn State studied whether beetroot juice can improve how blood vessels function. Results published today (June 10) in Frontiers in Nutrition indicated that daily consumption of beetroot juice by postmenopausal women may improve blood vessel function enough to reduce future heart disease risk.

Beetroot juice contains high levels of nitrate, which the body converts to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps blood vessels expand, making it easier for blood to flow through the circulatory system. The ability of nitric oxide to widen blood vessels is known to be particularly helpful during periods of limited blood flow and oxygen delivery, such as during a heart attack, according to the researchers.

David Proctor, professor of kinesiology and physiology at Penn State, and Jocelyn Delgado Spicuzza, who earned her doctorate in integrative and biomedical physiology from Penn State in May, led an interdisciplinary team of researchers who tested how nitrate-rich beetroot juice impacted blood vessel health in 24 postmenopausal women in their 50s and 60s.

“After menopause, women no longer produce estrogen, which helps maintain nitric oxide in the body,” said Delgado Spicuzza, first author of the research and current SAFE-T center research project manager. “This loss of nitric oxide production contributes to the substantial increase in heart disease risk for postmenopausal women. Foods that are rich in nitrate — especially beets — are being investigated as a natural, non-pharmaceutical way to protect the heart and blood vessels.”

Nitrate is an approved food additive for some animal-based food products, such as processed meats. However, nitrate food additives and preservatives are strictly regulated due to their potential to cause cancer, according to Delgado Spicuzza. In contrast, plants like beets, spinach and lettuce naturally accumulate nitrate from the soil. These plant-based sources of nitrate have cardiovascular benefits because the human body can convert nitrates from plants to nitric oxide, which it cannot do with nitrate added to meats... (MORE - details, no ads)
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