Beetroot – A Natural Sports Performance Enhancer
The news of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal has been a major shock in the world of sport. It has also highlighted the widespread use of illegal substances to enhance physical performance. There is however a perfectly legal food that has found to improve sports performance.
The mystery food… as you have probably guessed is the humble beetroot. The multiple Paralympics gold medallist David Weir admitted drinking beetroot juice during the marathon.
This root vegetable has undergone various scientific studies which have verified its ability to improve sporting performance. The Channel 4 show, The Food Hospital, highlighted the ability of beetroot juice for cyclists. This was a small study, but the results were very promising, however further studies are required.
Other smaller studies have also backed the use of beetroot in sports performance. Researchers at the University of Exeter found that beetroot juice enabled people to exercise for up to 16% longer. This is a significant difference for sports men and women.
The research involving this root vegetable, are not only limited to sports performance. A study conducted by the University of Exeter and Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry found that people used less oxygen when performing low intensity exercises such as walking after drinking beetroot juice.
Beetroot is rich in potassium, folic acid, iron as well as many antioxidants including anthocyanins. Beetroots contain betaine, which has a natural anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Betaine is often used to treat cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This vegetable also contains nitrates, which help to widen blood vessels. These nitrates are converted to nitric oxide in the body. This results in lowering blood pressure and allowing more blood to flow (preventing blood clots). Nitric oxide also reduces the amount of oxygen that is needed by the body during exercise. This double effect has a dramatic effect on sports performance, as well as low intensity activity.
There is however a slight problem, before you head out to the supermarket, you would need to eat up to five beetroots for a significant benefit. Beetroot supplements also pose the same problem. You would have to eat many capsules to make a difference. This is why the experts recommend taking concentrated beetroot juice.
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