Beet Juice Boosts Endurance
Attention all athletes: A new study has found that drinking beet juice regularly can improve stamina in exercise. The study, published by the U.K. University of Exeter’s School of Sport and Health Sciences found organic beetroot juice allowed participants to exercise for 15 percent longer than usual.
The study participants drank 500mL of beet juice six days in a row before completing exercise tests including cycling and exercise bike. There was also a placebo phase, where the participants were given blackcurrant cordial to drink daily instead of the beetroot juice before completing the fitness tests. The study found that the participants were able to cycle an average of 92 second longer after drinking the beet juice for six days than after drinking the placebo.
The researchers also found the beet juice “doubled the amount of nitrate in volunteers’ blood and reduced the rate at which muscles used their main source of energy.” It also increased muscle efficiency and decreased the uptake of oxygen during high and low-intensity exercise. They’re unsure why this increased nitrate had an effect on endurance, but believe it could result from the nitrate converting to nitric oxide, thereby reducing the oxygen cost of exercise.
“Our study is the first to show that nitrate-rich food can increase exercise endurance,” said Professor Andy Jones, the study’s lead researcher. “We were amazed by the effects of beetroot juice on oxygen uptake because these effects cannot be achieved by any other known means, including training.”
Jones said he is excited about the implications of this study for those who are not physically fit, such as the elderly. “I am also keen to explore the relevance of the findings to those people who suffer from poor fitness and may be able to use dietary supplements to help them go about their daily lives.”
Beets are nutrient dense powerhouses and can be a healthy addition to any persons diet; athlete or couch potato. Rich in calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous and the always important zinc as well as beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, vitamin B complex and vitamin C. Beets also contain a number of phytochemicals including lutein and zeaxanthin, the cartenoid nutrients important for eye health.