CopyRight iStock Swoosh-R Beetroot juice, Nutrition for runners, Steinar B Adalbjornsson, M.Sc., RD.

The next Olympics Winner: beetroot juice

Raw beetroot is an amazing little nutrient bomb. As with most vegetable, it is packed with great nutrients such as Vitamin C, folate, iron, magnesium, copper, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, fiber, antioxidants and nitrates, which require special attention.

But what is it in raw beetroot and beetroot juice that is so amazing? It’s called nitrates and can be found in amble quantity in raw beets. In the body a conversion takes place from dietary nitrates to a compound called nitrite. This nitrite is then converted to a highly volatile compound, nitric oxide, which plays a role in many bodily processes such as blood flow, muscle contraction and more. And that´s where the benefits for the general public and athletes alike come in.

The consumption of raw beetroots and cold pressed beetroot juice, can therefore, positively affect blood pressure and blood flow by relaxing the vascular system and causing a moderate decrease in blood pressure. Well, how about that?

Several studies have now shown that an adequate consumption of beetroot juice significantly lowers blood pressure and more studies are on-going. More studies are needed to determine what adequate amounts means. Some studies suggest that 500 ml. (about 17 fl. oz) once a day will do the trick, whether the purpose is to lower blood pressure for overall health or to significantly improve athletic performance. And the amazing thing is that the effects from beetroot juice are almost instant.

This is particularly good news given that 25% of the world population suffers from hypertension, and it is expected that this number will rise to 29% in 2025. Hypertension accounts for approximately 50% of coronary artery diseases, and approximately 75% of stroke. One of the many researchers who have studied beetroot juice for health benefits for the general public, is Amrita Ahluwalia, Ph.D., a professor at the William Harvey Research Institute in the UK. She has claimed that results from one of her studies indicate “that consumption of beetroot juice or other nitrate rich vegetables, might be a simple way to gain a healthy cardiovascular system.”

Yet another professor, Dr. Graham McGregor, at the British hypertension association, described Dr. Ahluwalia’s study as “interesting and said: “This shows that beetroot juice brings blood pressure in a very short time to normal. What we need to see now are the effects of consuming beetroot juice for a longer time.”

And the benefits for athletes are no less amazing. For athletes engaged in an exercise or training of medium to severe intensity, 500 ml. (about 17 fl. oz) of beetroot juice can result in significant improvements in exercise performance among endurance athletes and can enhance exercise tolerance especially during severe-intensity exercise.

So if you are a runner, triathlete, swimmer, cyclist or you participate in any other endurance sport, make sure you go to your Whole Foods Market or any store that sells quality beetroot or beetroot juice and pick up one!

P.s. more is not necessarily better with beetroot juice as with so many other types of foods and food supplements. One serving of about 500 ml. / 17 fl. oz a day should suffice. The cardiovascular benefits of beetroot juice and beetroot itself can only be experienced if the beetroot is not cooked or heated by other means.

Want to know more about nutrition for running? Take a look at this book in Amazon Kindle Store.

References
http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/56/2/274
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23640589
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24089377
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20702806
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21071588
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19661447

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  1. […] 200ml of cold pressed beetroot juice for recycling of waste (why in the world?) […]

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