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?