Enriching bread with nitrate-rich beetroot could help to lower our risk of heart disease by reducing blood pressure and improving blood vessel functioning, according to new research.
The open-label randomised trial suggests that bread could be used as a vehicle to increase intakes of cardioprotective beetroot in the diet - and could offer new options for those who need to manage high blood pressure (hypertension).
Writing in the Journal of Nutrition, the UK-based research team revealed that consumption of four slices (200 grams) of beetroot bread led to a lowering in diastolic blood pressure of up to 7 mmHg when compared to a control group who consumed normal white bread.
"These exciting and novel findings show for the first time that bread containing beetroot improves blood vessel function," said Professor Julie Lovegrove from the University of Reading - who led the study. "This is an important addition to the increasing body of evidence that suggests beneficial effects of dietary nitrate rich foods on the heart."
Lovegrove added that the research also supports the findings of previous work undertaken by the team - which suggested that beetroot in the form of juice or bread lowers blood pressure .
"Collectively, these studies suggest a potential role for foods rich in dietary nitrate in the management of high blood pressure," she said.