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Nitrate-Rich Beetroot Juice May Restore Blood Vessel Function At High Altitudes

One effect of high altitudes can be acute mountain sickness (AMS), with symptoms that include headache, dizziness, insomnia, and extreme fatigue. A recent study suggests that consuming nitrate-rich beetroot juice may help restore blood vessel function in healthy people suffering from AMS.

Participants in the study included eight people who took part in a high altitude expedition in the Himalaya. Their blood vessel function was measured before and during the high altitude expedition using a flow-mediated dilation test that uses ultrasound to measure blood vessel function. As expected, the blood vessels contracted at high altitude.

While at high altitude, the participants were given either nitrate-rich beetroot juice or a placebo juice with no extra nitrate, with a 24-hour break between tests. The researchers found that the nitrate-rich beetroot juice was associated with the blood vessels relaxing and returning to normal function at high altitude. The placebo, however, did not have the same effect.

Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on the August 2015 issue of Nitric Oxide.

Previous studies have linked nitrate with improved regulation of blood flow, better blood pressure, cellular signaling, glucose homeostasis, and improved tissue responses to low oxygen levels as well as improved cardiovascular health.

In addition to nitrate, beetroot juice is packed with nutrients such as folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin B complex, amino acids and calcium. It has been associated in previous studies with lowering blood pressure, improving digestive health, boosting stamina and combating liver problems. While beetroots are perhaps the most popular nitrate rich food, if their taste does not appeal to you, nitrates can also be found in spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale, cucumber, garlic, pumpkin, radishes, and string beans.

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