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Beetroot-hawthorn berry blend may boost heart health

By Stephen Daniells , 27-May-2011
Last updated the 27-May-2011 at 16:58 GMT

A proprietary blend of beetroot and Hawthorn berry may boost the activity of an enzyme linked to improved heart health, suggests a new study from Texas.

Researchers from the University of Texas and Neogenis Laboratories report that the herbal blend could improve the status of nitric oxide in the body – nitric oxide (NO) is a potent vasodilator, or compound that promotes the dilation or relaxation of blood vessels, thereby easing blood pressure and boosting heart health.

“The strategy of formulating a combination of natural products and botanicals chosen specifically for their NO activity shows promise in restoring NO [control] in human subjects at risk for cardiovascular disease for use as a dietary supplement,” wrote researchers in Nutrition Research.

The researchers used a ‘unique formulation from intellectual property’ developed by the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, and licensed exclusively to Neogenis Laboratories. The formulation is called Neo40 Daily.

“The formula is based on a proprietary blend of NO active herbs that act to replete and restore NO production in the human body by exploiting the nitrate-nitrite-NO pathway,” explained the researchers.

Recent study of the nitrate-nitrite-NO pathway has highlighted its importance in biological processes, including regulation of blood flow, blood pressure, cellular signaling, glucose control, and tissue responses to low oxygen levels (hypoxia).

The first study of many?

The study’s corresponding author, Nathan Bryan, PhD, assistant professor of molecular medicine at the University of Texas, told NutraIngredients-USA.com: “This is the first human study of the supplement although we have several more studies planned and in the process.”

Dr Bryan explained that the product has been commercially available since August 2010. “What makes our product unique is the system we have developed to produce nitric oxide where beet root and hawthorn play a unique and critical role.”

Beetroot was chosen because it was found to contain high levels of nitrate, while hawthorn berries have a high activity of the enzyme nitrite reductase, which converts nitrite to nitric oxide.

Dr Bryan acknowledges a financial interest in Neogenis and adds that such conflicts of interest are managed by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Conflicts of Interest Management Plans.

Study details

The researchers recruited 30 people with a median age of 56 with at least three cardiovascular risk factors, including a family history of heart disease, smoking, elevated blood pressure (hypertension), obesity, or high blood lipid levels (hyperlipidemia).

Participants were randomly assigned to receive either the herb blend or placebo for 30 days.

At the end of the study, Dr Bryan and his co-workers found that blood nitrate and nitrite levels increased in the herb blend group, compared with placebo, and these increases were indicative of “an increase in systemic NO availability”, they said.

In addition, 72 percent of the herb supplement group experience statistically significant reductions in the blood triglyceride levels, compared with their levels at the start of the study.

Proof of concept

“Although these studies were simply designed to show proof of concept for restoring NO homeostasis through a dietary supplement, therefore modifying risk factors for CVD, more studies are needed to more clearly define the role of NO dietary supplement for optimal health and nutrition,” explained the researchers.

“Future studies will determine if such strategies using NO active dietary supplements can help reduce the progression of [cardiovascular disease] and the incidence of myocardial infarction and stroke,” they added.

NO Index

Dr Bryan added that his group “continues to investigate the NO activity of certain foods and have developed an algorithm for predicting and quantifying the nitric oxide activity of foods,” he added.

“We call this the Nitric Oxide Index.”

Source: Nutrition Research
Volume 31, Issue 4, Pages 262-269
“All-natural nitrite and nitrate containing dietary supplement promotes nitric oxide production and reduces triglycerides in humans”
Authors: J. Zand, F. Lanza, H.K. Garg, N.S. Bryan

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