ew York (Online) - Patients with peripheral artery disease who drink beet juice before walking may feel less pain from this type of exercise than people who don’t, a small experiment suggests.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) develops over time with hardening of the arteries and reduced blood and oxygen flow to the tissues and muscles in the legs. When people have PAD, walking can cause severe pain that requires them to stop and rest after very short distances because the legs don’t get enough oxygen to handle the demands of even this gentle form of exercise.

Some previous research suggests that inorganic nitrate, an ingredient in beet juice, can help increase delivery of blood and oxygen to working muscles and enable muscles to use oxygen more efficiently, particularly in people who are less fit or who do high-intensity exercise.

“This makes it an attractive potential therapeutic approach for individuals with PAD who have severely limited blood/oxygen supply to the lower limbs which severely reduces their function and makes everyday tasks require a vigorous effort,” said senior study author Jason David Allen of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.