Beetroot juice is very useful for athletes and for a healthier heart. We often repeat the three basic habits for healthy living – healthy and varied diet, regular physical activity and quality sleep.
They are all interconnected and interdependent. If they are balanced, our quality of life will be at the highest level.
This connection is the subject of many studies.
We know that physical activity is directly dependent on diet (as a source of energy and matter for the body). So, we often hear about foods that are extremely good and desirable for people who are physically active.
One of those foods is beets.
Its effect on the ability to exercise is the subject of much research and that is exactly the topic of our today’s article.
Why is it healthy to eat beets?
Before we look at the effects that beets have on physical performance, let us first briefly mention what actually makes beets so healthy.
Namely, beetroot is a biennial plant with dark red spindle root and dark green leaves, and is one of the most useful and healing garden crops.
The whole plant is used and can be used throughout the year.
This plant is rich in essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, but also some phytochemicals that can even have healing properties.
It is low in calories and is a good source of fiber.
Beetroot can help reduce high blood pressure by a few units in a very short time.
We know that hypertension is one of the biggest risk factors for most cardiovascular diseases.
The beneficial properties of beets in terms of cardiovascular health are mainly due to its composition, ie the content of nitrates, which are “converted” into nitric oxide in the body.
This oxide acts to relax the blood vessels, thus improving blood flow through them, which in turn leads to a reduction in blood pressure.
It is this compound that is credited with the popularity of beetroot juice, especially among athletes.
Benefits of consuming beet juice
As mentioned, beetroot, and thus beet juice, is an excellent source of inorganic nitrates that undergo metabolic changes in the body and are converted to nitric oxide.
Namely, an older research shows that supplementation with such nitrates reduces the need for oxygen in the body of cyclists.
This discovery was very interesting for the scientists and was a motive for additional, new research.
One such study included two groups of men who received about 500ml of beetroot juice or currant juice (which contains very small amounts of nitrate) within 6 days.
At the end of the 6 days, a break of 10 days was taken, and then the drinks were replaced with the groups.
In the last 3 days (out of 6), the concentration of nitrates in the blood of the subjects who drank beet juice was almost doubled (compared to the initial one) and their systolic blood pressure (upper value) dropped by an average of 6 units.
When exercising on a stationary bike, their oxygen consumption was reduced by as much as 19%.
They were also able to continue exercising longer despite the fatigue they felt.
Such results are thought to be due to nitric oxide, which, as we have said, leads to relaxation of blood vessels, helps with muscle contraction and the transmission of nerve signals.
Other research shows that beets can increase fitness by 16%, due to the stimulation of nitric oxide production.
The peak of this oxide in the blood occurs 2-3 hours after drinking beet juice, so for the best performance, it is optimal to drink the juice a few hours before training or competition.
A study conducted in 2015 included five women who were professional athletes (kayakers).
They received about 140ml of beetroot juice, which contained about 600mg of nitrates, two hours before training.
Compared to placebo, athletes after performing beet juice had a better performance by 1.7%. There are many types of studies that show similar results.
Beetroot juice (consumed just before physical activity) improves performance, thanks to the nitrates it contains.
However, it is not yet known whether long-term consumption of beets will mean long-term improved performance and whether the effect of nitrates will increase.
In addition to athletes and people who practice regular physical activity, this positive effect of beets can be useful and desirable for people with heart problems, high blood pressure and the like.
The positive effect of beets can facilitate the performance of daily activities, improve their fitness, ability for physical activity and so on.