Beets: nutritious, healthy and good for endurance?

Endurance athletes take note.  Beets, and specifically beetroot juice, are the new endurance booster.  All natural and super nutritious, they pack a punch.  Ask Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall, or ultra-marathoner Chris Carver: beetroot juice improves athletic performance.

beets good for health

beets: healthy goodness

Beets and beetroot juice are known for their high nitrate content.  Nitrates are converted in our bodies into nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to relax and widen. This process allows more oxygen-rich blood to flow through the body—and the more that oxygen reaches the muscles, the longer they’re able to perform at high intensity. Athletes have sought to trigger this process called vasodilation for years, even with banned substances. But simply consuming large amounts of vegetables that are high in nitrates, such as spinach, carrots, radishes, and especially beets, can offer the same performance boost.

Studies have confirmed the effects of nitrates on athletic performance, and the result?  Beet juice improves athletic performance and reduces blood pressure.

Regarding the research behind this finding, an article in HuffingtonPost.com cited two specific studies that were performed at the University of Exerter’s School of Sport and Health Sciences in England. The studies found that “cyclists who drank a half-liter (about a half-quart) of beetroot juice several hours before setting off were able to ride up to 20 percent longer than those who drank a placebo black currant juice.” Researchers analyzed these cyclists and their energy requirements and discovered that the cyclists were able to exercise using less oxygen than normal.  “The beetroot juice was effective even without any additional training,” researcher Stephen Bailey said. “It reduces the energy requirements on your muscles so you can last longer.”

Other studies have shown that beetroot juice also helps the heart by lowering blood pressure.

For athletes, this is an interesting concept, perhaps worthy of note.  For other health conscious individuals, there are even more reasons to enjoy beets.

Note the following benefits, as mentioned on Voices.Yahoo.com:

1. Beets are high in carbohydrates which means they are a great instant energy source, but unlike processed foods which are high in carbohydrates, beets give you energy.

2. Beets contain sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron and phosperous. They contain fiber and vitamins A and C, folic acid and niacin.

3. Beets contain folic acid which is necessary for the production and maintenance of new cells.

4. Studies have shown that beets guard against cancer, especially colon cancer.

5. Medical studies have also shown that including beets in your diet helps protect against heart disease.

6. Beets are available all year round.

7. Beets can be eaten raw, boiled, steamed, roasted or sauteed. Additionally raw beets can be juiced. And, mix with some carrot or apple juice and ginger for something a little tastier.

8. Beets contain Betacyanin, the pigment that gives beets their red color, which is responsible for their cancer fighting properties.

9. Beets have been shown to help cleanse the blood, cleanse the colon and strengthen the gall bladder and liver.

10. “Beet Therapy” is known for helping people with blood diseases and leukemia.

11. Some people have used beats to treat and cure boils, abscesses and even acne.

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