The Magic of Beet Juice: Why So Many Athletes Drink It
Beets are rich in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium, which is important for healthy nerve and muscle function, and manganese, which helps keep your bones, liver, pancreas and kidneys strong.
This powerful food also contains the B vitamin folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects. It is a great source of naturally occurring nitrates, which is important for athletes and active people.
The powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and vascular-protective effects offered by beetroot have been clearly demonstrated by several studies. Beetroot supplementation has been reported to reduce blood pressure, attenuate inflammation, and avert oxidative stress. Beets are also a great source of magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is strongly linked with inflammation.
Drinking 8oz of beet juice lowers systolic blood pressure by an average of 4-5 points, Matt Herzog, President of Beet Performer adds. One glass a day is enough to significantly reduce blood pressure in patients with high blood pressure, researchers who conducted a placebo-controlled trial in dozens of patients said.
One unavoidable problem that every climber, skier and other athletes face is the risk of altitude sickness. There now may be a way to reduce the body’s oxygen consumption and it is drinking beetroot juice, according to a recent study. The nitric oxide found in nitrate-rich beet juice restored reduced blood vessel function at high altitude.
Superfood in general
Beets are some of the lesser known superfoods out there. They’re not winning any beauty contests, but they are very healthy nevertheless. They are rich in folate, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. Beets are also a great source for iron and magnesium. In recent lab studies, betanin pigments from beets have been shown to lessen the growth of tumor cells. Beets also boost energy and lower blood pressure.
Beet juice is used by many athletes to help improve strength and stamina as a pre-workout drink, Herzog says. Beet root juice, when taken before exercising, has been show to improve blood and oxygen flow in the muscles, enhancing performance and increasing endurance.
A study don’t by the University of Exeter and published in the Journal of Applied Physiology shows that the amount of oxygen required to maintain a given level of moderate exercise decreased after taking beetroot juice. In effect, it took less energy to cycle at the same pace. The best results decreased oxygen consumption by about 3 percent.
When beets are consumed, a chain reaction occurs in the body that converts these nitrates into nitric oxide, a molecule that improves oxygen and blood flow throughout the body, Herzog says.
“Nitric oxide has two major effects on an athlete. The first is that it causes blood vessels to dilate, enhancing blood and oxygen flow throughout the brain, heart, and muscles. At the same time, it makes the mitochondria more efficient so they are able to create the same energy while consuming less oxygen. This is a powerful combination that helps the body use oxygen more efficiently, extending endurance and improving intensity levels during exercise.”
Juice vs. roots
When vegetables are juiced, they are 10 times more nutrient-rich because their nutritive compounds are highly concentrated, according to Superfoods for Superhealth.
“As a result, beet juice contains substantial amounts of antioxidants, naturally occurring nitrates and betaine,” Herzog says. “While you can get these same benefits from raw beets (in less concentrated amounts), people typically cook them, breaking down the positive nutrients and reducing the benefits.”