The latest sensation in the sports supplement industry is none other than the humble, versatile vegetable, beetroot. Used in a variety of dishes, beetroot is packed with iron, carotenoids such as dietary fiber, and healthy antioxidants like vitamins A and C. All of these nutrients play vital roles in helping to lower blood pressure and boost brain health. Recent research suggests that beetroot even has the power to enhance athletic performance.
How is all this possible with a single veggie? Beetroot contains a large supply of nitrate, which is needed to build strong muscles. In a recent study, eight recreational athletes who consumed at least eight ounces of beetroot juice daily extended their exertion levels by up to 16 percent. And cyclists were able to improve their time trials by about two percent after supplementing with beetroot juice.
To reap the performance enhancement benefits of nitrates, drink beetroot juice two to three hours before competition or training. Although you can buy beetroot, you may wish to try juicing it yourself. Caution: cooking beetroot actually reduces its nitrate content, and beetroot depleted of nitrate offers no benefits associated with improved exercise efficiency.
Learn more about the performance benefits of beets. If beets just aren’t your thing, nitrate is also plentiful in radishes and in leafy green vegetables like spinach, rocket arugula and celery.