Nitrate-raising beetroot juice helps chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

A course of nitrate supplements in the form of beetroot juice benefits symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, British researchers report today.

In today’s European Respiratory Journal Professor Nicholas Hopkinson of Imperial College London, UK, and colleagues outline their study of 81 people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

They explain that patients have a raised risk of heart attack and stroke, so they examined whether increasing nitrate intake could help.

Participants all had high blood pressure – systolic blood pressure measured higher than 130 millimetres of mercury (mmHg).

They were split into two groups and given either beetroot juice with 400 milligrams of nitrate, or a placebo drink without nitrate, each day.

After 12 weeks, average blood pressure was lower in those on the nitrate-rich beetroot juice drink, the health of their blood vessels was improved, and they were able to walk further in a six minute test.

Professor Hopkinson said: “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.

“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.”

He added: “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.

“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.”

Alasmari, A. M. et al. Oral nitrate supplementation improves cardiovascular risk markers in COPD: ON-BC a randomised controlled trial. European Respiratory Journal 20 December 2023; doi: 10.1183/13993003.02353-2022


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