A 2010 study carried out by Queen Mary’s University in London found that drinking just one 250ml glass of beetroot juice a day dramatically lowered blood pressure for several hours.
It also found that the higher the blood pressure, the greater the drop observed.
A new study carried out by the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, found that a 500ml glass of the juice led to a significant drop in blood pressure after six hours. If beetroot juice was consumed widely, researchers say we could see a ten per cent reduction in death from cardiovascular disease.
Nitrates lower blood pressure because bacteria in the mouth and gut convert it into the gas nitric oxide, which relaxes and widens the blood vessels, allowing blood to circulate more freely.
Studies carried out by the University of Exeter have shown that nitrates not only lower blood pressure but improve stamina too.
A 2010 study found that adults who drank 500ml of the juice a day could exercise 16 per cent longer than those given a drink supplement with nitrates removed.
‘Nitrates work in synergy with the other antioxidants that beetroot contains to reduce the oxygen needed by muscles,’ says Stephen Bailey, who worked on the study. ‘This enables them to work more efficiently and slows fatigue.’
A 2011 study carried out by Wake Forest University in North Carolina found beetroot may slow the progression of dementia.
It is thought this is because nitric oxide boosts blood flow to the brain. Beetroot’s high folic acid content – approximately 75 per cent of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) in just two or three small beetroots – may also play a role as previous research has suggested the nutrient protects against Alzheimer’s.
In 2011, a study carried out by Howard University in Washington, USA, found that betacyanin slowed tumour growth by 12.5 per cent when exposed to prostate and breast cancer cells.
‘It also contains a substance called betaine which normalises stomach acid secretion.’
The compound increases acid levels in the stomach if you do not have enough and acts as an antacid if you are producing too much. ‘Beetroot supports the liver too,’ she adds.
‘Antioxidants vulgaxanthin, betalain and betanin promote the production of glutathione, a substance that helps the liver process toxins.’
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Back before Finland joined the EU and a bunch of food coloring was banned, they used mainly beetroot extract for red food coloring. Now that we're a respectable member of the Union we can has crushed bugs as a substitute for that.