More and more evidence is showing you can’t beat the heart healthy benefits of beet juice. It provides long-lasting energy, improves circulation, lowers blood pressure, enhances oxygen uptake, and increases stamina. A new study from the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology confirms that drinking beet juice regularly can improve exercise endurance.
Boost Exercise Stamina with Beet Juice
In this small-scale study 14 healthy males drank beet juice for 15 days. Scientists measured blood pressure and heart function both at rest and while the men performed progressive cycling. Results indicated that the heart required less oxygen and blood pressure was lowered.
Beet juice contains a high concentration of antioxidants and inorganic nitrates that help boost blood flow throughout the body—to the brain, heart, and muscles. It increases production of a molecule in blood vessels called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps the blood vessels relax and open up, thereby increasing oxygen flow to the heart and muscles so you can exercise stronger for longer.
Lower Blood Pressure with Beet Juice
Beet juice has also demonstrated a remarkable effect on blood pressure. A meta-analysis of studies from 2006-2012 showed very obvious reductions in blood pressure among the 254 people tested, especially in systolic blood pressure. When it comes to lowering blood pressure, beat juice outperforms whole beets. All it takes is one to two glasses of beet juice a day!
Beet Juice and Endurance
Andrew Jones, at the University of Exeter shared some interesting findings in 2011 regarding beet juice and endurance. His group performed a study of eight male cyclists, who consumed approximately two cups of beet juice, which is naturally high in nitrate. A control group consumed the same amount of currant cordial juice, which has very low levels of nitrate.
After a variety of low-intensity and high-intensity cycling tests, cyclists in the beet juice drinking group were able to cycle an average of 16 minutes longer. Findings also found these men had lower resting blood pressure. But, why is that?
Ultimately, the nitrate in beet juice is the cause of this improvement. The flow of nitrates help your mitochondria produce ATP, the fuel and energy needed for your muscles during exercise. This translates to increased oxygen uptake extending time-to-exhaustion, which allows endurance athletes to push longer and harder.
Beet Juice and Mouthwash
Now, this is where it gets even trickier. According to Active.com, “While it’s not totally clear how it works, the authors suspect that when dietary nitrate turns into nitric oxide in the body, it reduces the amount of oxygen required to perform exercise.” However, new studies by same group at Exeter have found that mouthwash may inhibit the transformation of dietary nitrate into nitric oxide.
Dietary nitrate is turned into nitric oxide through bacteria in the salivary gland, via secretion to the saliva. Because mouthwash is meant to remove oral bacteria, the most important step in this process is blocked. Without this first step, your body won’t benefit from the beet juice’s high nitrate concentration.
Beet Juice and Your Workout
While the data is very interesting, it is only the first step in learning more about the benefits of beet juice and how mouthwash can affect that. So, to see the benefits of beet juice on your performance, you can take necessary precautions until further studies are done.
In a similar study, released in the journal Hypertension, the effects of beet juice were seen almost immediately, within an hour, and were strongest after two or three hours. With this in mind, you can avoid using mouthwash before a big race, allowing the nitrate process to happen.
At the end of the day, these findings are very new and have yet to be tested against other opposing studies. However, natural beet juice is beneficial for your body in a number of other ways, such as promoting blood flow and regulation blood sugar, so seeing whether this improves your personal endurance will be beneficial regardless. While you shouldn’t count on beating your PR from beet juice alone, why not give it a shot?
Beets may well be one of the least frequently consumed vegetables in America. Perhaps they’ve fallen into disuse in our hurry-up, everything-instant frenzy of life because they require some prep time. And beet greens probably find their way to the table even more seldom than the root that sprouted them.
But with a growing awareness of health and nutrition, the popularity of beets and their greens also seems to be on the rise.
Beets have been around for thousands of years and flourish in all kinds of climates. Their speedy rate of growth makes it possible to harvest two crops per year even in many northern regions.
Beets are making their comeback in three primary forms: beet juice, beet greens, and beet roots, each with its unique set of benefits.
If you’re looking for a pre-workout energy drink to boost your stamina, beet juice does just that. The juice is high in nitrates that help promote blood flow and lower blood pressure.
Beet juice also contains betalain, a powerful antioxidant that is an anti-inflammatory, fungicidal, and aids in the detoxification of the body. Beet juice promotes eye and liver health, prevents anemia, and helps heal gout, kidney and gall bladder issues.
Beet greens rank as one of the richest food sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber and contain more beneficial nutrients than its root. Beet greens boast healthy amounts of:
- Vitamins K, A, C and B1, 3, and 6
- Minerals: copper, potassium, manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron, and phosphorus
- Carotenoids: lutein and beta-carotene
These nutrients strengthen the immune system, fight cancer and heart disease, help prevent osteoporosis, boost bone strength, and may even help ward off Alzheimer’s.
In bygone eras, beet greens were eaten, while the roots were reserved for medicinal purposes. Today, we’ve all but forgotten the leaves and eat the root.
Beet roots also contain healthy amounts of the nutrients listed above. The root is low in calories and high in fiber. Additionally, raw beets provide an excellent source of folates necessary for DNA synthesis in our cells.
The deep crimson color in beets stems from betalain and other antioxidant phytonutrients. These vary from vegetable to vegetable, not only creating a beautiful array of colors, but a host of health benefits. So a colorful presentation of vegetables on the table translates into a cornucopia of nutrients as well.
The secret is out. Beets and their greens offer a double-dose of nutrients and minerals all combined in one beautiful package. Now it’s up to you to experiment with a thousand different ways to enjoy their rich flavor and healthful benefits.