Are you looking for ways to improve your performance? It could be as simple as just including beetroot juice in your daily nutrition.
If you’re a regular ‘juicer’ you’re probably well-versed in the benefits of juices containing superfoods like spinach, kale, broccoli, cucumber, green apples, ginger and celery – but have you thought about adding beetroot into the mix?
Like many superfoods, beetroot juice is rich in vitamins B and C and minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium, copper and folic acid. The iron content in beetroot can help those suffering from anaemia and fatigue, while its soluble fibre has been shown to have a cholesterol lowering effect. Beetroot contains a red coloured pigment called betalain which acts as a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying agent for the body; helping to protect against degenerative and age-related diseases such as arthritis, cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as reinforcing the body’s immune system. Beetroot also contains silica, which helps the body to utilise calcium, thereby reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
In addition to this impressive array of benefits, beetroot juice is one of the best sources of nitrates, which the body converts to nitric oxide. This compound helps open up the blood vessels, reducing blood pressure and increasing oxygen flow around the body – a significant benefit for anyone suffering from high blood pressure and associated health risks such as heart attack and stroke.
But there is an added bonus for athletes – and even just fitness enthusiasts like us – which is that nitric oxide also enables muscles to perform at a higher intensity, and for longer periods than normal without suffering fatigue. Studies are in their infancy but so far, research* has shown that when nitrate turns to nitric oxide, it reduces the amount of oxygen required by the body to perform exercise. Controlled trials with runners showed a 3-5% improvement in speed over a 5k run when 200g beetroot was consumed one hour before exercising, and the perceived exertion level was lower.
So, next time you’re putting your favourite ingredients into the blender, don’t forget the humble beetroot, for that little bit of extra oomph!
One of our favourite mixes is:
2 or 3 ice cubes
2 small beets
1 small apple
1 small pear
Handful of spinach
Squeeze of lemon
Splash of water (adjust to achieve preferred consistency)
Optional extras: stick of celery, inch of ginger, one carrot
Blend and enjoy!
Warning: If you do start adding beetroot juice to your diet regularly, be prepared for the totally harmless, but potentially alarming side effects: The powerful red betalain pigment is excreted in urine and stools, giving both a reddish appearance.
*Murphy M., Eliot K., Heuertz R.M., and Weiss, E. (2012). Whole beetroot consumption acutely improves running performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 112