The Beet Goes On
Improve cardiovascular endurance with the power of beet juice
Athletes are turning to beet juice as an energy-enhancing aid,Â and it certainly does not get any more natural than that! But whyÂ beet juice? Beets are a natural source of nitrates which the bodyÂ can convert to nitrite and later to nitric oxide to enable musclesÂ to utilize oxygen more efficiently. Nitric oxide opens your bloodÂ vessels to lower blood pressure and prevent blockages that leadÂ to stroke and heart attack.
But what about nitrates in cured meats and it’s link to cancer?Â Nitrates and nitrites are added to cured meats as a preservativeÂ and many consumers actively try to avoid them. According toÂ functional medicine practitioner Chris Kresser, “The study thatÂ originally connected nitrates with cancer risk and caused theÂ scare in the first place has since been discredited after beingÂ subjected to peer review.” He goes on to say that, “If you thinkÂ you can avoid nitrates and nitrites by eating so-called ‘nitrite- andÂ nitrate-free’ hot dogs and bacon, don’t be fooled. These productsÂ use ‘natural’ sources of the same chemical, like celery, beet juiceÂ and sea salt, and are no more free from nitrates and nitrites thanÂ standard cured meats.” Many scientists suggest nitrates andÂ nitrites are not problematic, but may actually be beneficial toÂ health, specifically in athletes looking to increase performance.
Many scientists suggest nitratesÂ and nitrites are not problematic, butÂ may actually be beneficial to health,Â specifically in athletes looking toÂ increase performance.
How do nitrates support athletic performance and cardiovascularÂ endurance? Nitrates (which get converted to nitric oxide in theÂ body) dilate blood vessels and allow more oxygen and nutrientsÂ to reach your working muscles. This increases the efficiencyÂ of oxygen utilization for energy production during exercise. InÂ addition to the beneficial properties of nitrates, beets also offerÂ nutritional value in the form of betalains. Betalains give beetsÂ their vibrant red pigment and act as antioxidants inÂ the body to reduce inflammation, which can aid in aÂ faster recovery. Head of Sport and Health ScienceÂ at the University of Exeter, Professor Andrew Jones,Â Ph.D., offers supporting research in his numerousÂ studies related to athletic performance and beetroot juice. HisÂ recent study in the International Journal of Sports Physiology andÂ Performance looked at dose-related effects of beetroot juice onÂ rowing performance in highly trained athletes. Results suggestÂ that athletes ingesting 200-500mL of beetroot juice twice dailyÂ (with one dose taken two hours before exercise) showed significant improvement in athletic performance.
How can you reap the benefits of beetroot juice? Juicing freshÂ beets in your own home is one solution. Given the natural earthyÂ flavor of beets, combine the juice with carrot, apple and ginger forÂ a more pleasant flavor. Alternatively there is an expanding numberÂ of new beetroot juice products on the market including BeetEIiteÂ and BeetElite Neo Shots that athletes can turn toÂ for convenience.