Beetroot juice has been topic of research for the last couple of years and is not just because of its vasodilation properties which facilitates nutrient delivery to muscles, but apparently regular intake of Nitrate (NO₃), which is found in high amounts in beetroot juice, can decrease blood pressure and improve sports performance optimizing Oxygen (O₂) utilization.
When a substance is said to work as a vasodilator it means it causes blood vessels to enlarge and blood flows more easily, therefore blood pressure will decrease. Another advantage of vasodilation is improvement in micro-vascular circulation, which can help athletes exercise for longer periods of time and also improve quality of life of people who suffer from Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). In PAD atherosclerotic occlusions impair blood flow to lower extremities, affecting even the most simple of the daily activities such as walking, causing pain due to lack of oxygen in muscle tissue. As mentioned before, beetroot juice and its NO3 content help decrease blood pressure and may be the next alternative for treating patients with hypertension or impaired blood circulation in addition to conventional treatment
Analysis of Beetroot Juice confirms that 500ml can provide as much as 99mg of Nitrate (NO₃), which would be enough to increase blood supply to muscles during exercise also increasing endurance. When ingested, NO₃ is absorbed by salivary glands or partially reduced to Nitrite (NO₂) by bacteria in the mouth, some of it is converted to Nitric Oxide (NO) in the stomach and the remaining NO₂ is absorbed in the gut. Further reduction of Nitrite to NO will happen in muscles where less oxygen is available, therefore supporting energy production by bringing more blood and O₂ to the area. However, studies show Nitric Oxide may also decrease the need for O₂ to generate energy in muscle cells, meaning that oxygen costs of exercise will be lower and athletes ingesting adequate amounts of beetroot juice will be able to exercise for longer periods of time.
The science behind Beetroot Juice and its impact on blood flow and sports performance still needs more research, although the benefits have been confirmed and many sports people have included the juice into their diets. A more practical way of getting enough Nitrate (NO3) without sculling 0.5L of cold pressed beetroot juice is opting for a concentrated version of it. The sports supplement industry is in a constant run to get the latest research, turn it into products and deliver it to the public. So when the topic is beetroot, a company called Beet It knows all about it. Beet It has just released Beet It Sport, a 70ml drink made of pure concentrated beetroot juice containing 400mg of Nitrate. These beetroot shots have shown great results in elite athletes and may be the newest sports supplement to take place into our list to help improving performance.
It is important to remember that a diet based on variety will provide all essential amino acids, fats, and energy needed for our body to function and maintain good health. Said that, some extra beetroot juice will just add more vitamins and minerals to our daily account of nutrients.
TIP: Try juicing some beetroot, ginger mint and lime. Besides an amazing taste, this juice will provide Nitrate (of course), vitamin C, phytonutrients, and it can also act as a good anti-inflammatory. Enjoy it!
- Aarti A. Kenjale et all. Dietary nitrate supplementation enhances exercise performance in peripheral arterial disease. J Appl Physiol 110:1582-1591, 2011. First Published 31st March 2011; doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00071.2011
- Leonardo F. Ferreira and Bradley J. Behnke. A toast to health and performance! Beetroot Juice lowers blood pressure and the O2 cost of exercise. J Appl Physiol 110:585-586,2011. First Published 23 December 2010; doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01457.2010
- Stephen J. Bailey et al. Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high- intensity exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol 107:1144-1155, 2009. First Published 6 August 2009; doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00722.2009