A simple, daily dose of beet juice may significantly help elderly women with the leading cause of heart failure, according to a small new study conducted at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFPEF) occurs when the left ventricle of the heart pumps with each beat. It happens mostly with older women and is the most rapidly increasing cardiovascular disorder in America, according to a Wake Forest release about the research. The primary symptom of HFPEF is a shortness of breath and fatigue with normal amounts of exertion.

Researchers conducted a double-blind, randomized safety study to see which would help boost exercise intolerance in a group of 19 patients with HFPEF: a single dose of beetroot juice, or a daily dose given over several days.

The single dose did bupkis. However, a daily dose of 2.4 ounces kicked up aerobic endurance by 24 percent after one week. The juice also significantly reduced resting systolic blood pressure by 5 to 10 mmHg.

The results were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology-Heart Failure and noted on sciencedaily.com.

Beetroot juice is a rich dietary source of antioxidants and naturally occurring nitrates, which improve blood flow.

"Although larger trials need to be conducted, these initial findings suggest that one week of daily beetroot juice could be a potential therapeutic option to improve aerobic endurance in patients with HFPEF, which has implications for improving everyday activities and quality of life," Dalane Kitzman, MD, professor of internal medicine at Wake Forest Baptist and senior author of the study, said in the release.