The nitrates found in many vegetables may help lower blood pressure and keep blood vessels healthy, a new study suggests.
According to the report, nitric oxide, generated by nitric oxide synthase, is a key regulator of vascular integrity. This system is dysfunctional in many cardiovascular disorders, including hypertension (high blood pressure).
Researchers at the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences examined the effects of three-day dietary nitrate supplementation in a group of 17 healthy, non-smoking young adults.
Each participant rotated between taking a daily dose of nitrate supplement equivalent to the amount normally found in 150 to 250 grams of a nitrate-rich vegetable, such as spinach, lettuce or beetroot, for three days, and taking a placebo for a different three days.
The study found that average diastolic blood pressure was 3.7 mm Hg lower after three days of nitrate supplementation than it was after taking the placebo.
The researchers concluded that these benefits are similar to those found among healthy participants in the DASH trials and suggested that nitrates' blood-pressure-lowering effects deserve further study.
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Reference: 1) Larsen, F. Effects of Dietary Nitrate on Blood Pressure in
Healthy Volunteers. New England Journal of Medicine, Dec. 28, 2006; vol
355: pp 2792-2793.
This abstract has not yet been posted.