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Beetroot – Athletic Performance Enhancer?!

One of channel 4’s ‘Food Hospital’ episodes got us much more interested in Beetroot recently. We always enjoyed eating it in salads or roasted with other vegetables, but after seeing that it could actually enhance performance, we thought it warranted more research and maybe some ‘testing’ of our own!

Beetroot is a great source of antioxidants and nutrients (including; magnesium, sodium, potassium, zinc, iron & vitamin C). It is also rich in nitrates which the body uses to dilate the blood vessels, thus reducing blood pressure. So during exercise it can effectively increase blood flow and oxygen supply to the muscles! Long term it can help prevent high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems, as well as being a very healthy food to consume as it contains very little fat and is carbohydrate rich.

I found details of a study, conducted by researchers at the University of Exeter, England, which compared the effects of acute use of beetroot juice (one serving taken 2.5 hours before exercise) and chronic beetroot juice consumption (5 and 15 days) on blood pressure, the oxygen cost of submaximal exercise, and performance in an incremental exercise test.
They found that a single dose of beetroot juice was as effective in lowering blood pressure, reducing the oxygen cost of submaximal exercise, and boosting peak power in an incremental exercise test as 15 days of beetroot juice consumption!
I also found that past studies have shown it can reduce blood pressure in as little as 24 hours. Astonishing findings, effectively meaning that consuming beetroot regularly, or at least during the days leading up to a major event or training session can improve your body’s athletic performance!

We conducted our own mini-trial… Read the rest of this entry »

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