PLANT POWER: Beetroot – hard to beat this nutritional profile
June 26, 2019 • 1 min read
-- Ranked as one of the 10 most potent antioxidant vegetables, beetroots are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds, some of which have medicinal properties.
Studies have shown how consuming beetroots can lower blood pressure, decreasing the risk of heart disease and stroke – an effect caused by a high concentration of nitrates in beetroot.
Dietary nitrates are converted to nitric oxide, a molecule that dilates blood vessels, causing blood pressure to drop.
Beetroot has also caught the attention of endurance athletes. Nitrates appear to boost physical performance by improving the efficiency of mitochondria, the powerhouses in our cells.
A series of small studies involving athletes showed significant performance gains on the back of chugging beetroot juice before exercise.
In one case, athletes consuming 17 ounces (500 ml) of beet juice daily for six days were able to extend their time-to-exhaustion during high-intensity exercise by 15–25%.
Another study of nine competitive cyclists looked at the effect of 17 ounces (500 ml) of beetroot juice on cycling time trial performance over 2.5 and 10 miles (4 and 16.1 km). Drinking beetroot juice improved performance by 2.8% over the 2.5-mile (4-km) time trial and 2.7% over the 10-mile (16.1-km) trial.
Timing is critical. Blood nitrate levels peak within 2–3 hours, so juice up 2–3 hours before training or competing.