Beets. They’re so pretty but seriously stain everything from your clothes to your teeth thanks to betalains, the antioxidant that gives beets its bright red color. Beets are rich in folate (important for pregnant women) and interestingly, studies have shown that they are also good for heart health and athletic performance.
If you’re confused let me explain…
Beets contain a compound called nitrate. Nitrate is broken down starting in the mouth with your saliva, where it is then converted to nitrite. When it gets to your stomach, it becomes nitric oxide, which is what improves blood flow in your vessels.
A meta-analysis published in 2013 in The Journal of Nutrition and a review published in 2013 and in Nutrition Research Reviews show compelling evidence that consuming beetroot has many heart health benefits, including lowering blood pressure.
In a small study published in Nutrition Journal in 2012, researchers found that those who drank a beet juice and apple juice mixture ((72% beetroots and 28% apples) found that its participants had lower systolic blood pressure after drinking beetroot juice. After 6 hours, men showed a reduction of 4.7 points, and women 2.5 points.
Another small study published in Hypertension in 2015, found that those with elevated blood pressure who drank 250ml (about 1 cup) of beet juice every morning for a month had a 7-8 point reduction in systolic blood pressure.
And because nitric oxide increases blood flow, this opens up your blood vessels, lowering your blood pressure. It also makes sense when we’re talking about exercising- this opening up of vessels allows more oxygen to get to your muscles.
So when it comes to athletic performance, researchers have found interesting benefits of beetroot, especially in the endurance department. A study led by the University of Exeter found that cyclists who drank beet juice could ride 16% longer than those who didn’t. They also made this great video where they shared their exciting findings.
Another small study found that those who ate baked beets before running a 5km time trial ran faster, with the last 1.1 miles 5% faster.
So how do you take it? My favorite way...SHOTS.
If you’re not convinced yet, Beet-it has a list of published studies to back all this up…so if you want to amp up your endurance, not a bad idea to consider beet shots. And just a heads up, don’t be surprised when your urine turns pink… 🙂
If you are a beet lover already, here are some my favorite beet-related things….
For salads, I love these yummy love beets, which have a little bit of vinegar
If you like chips, say hello to Beet Chips by The Better Chip
I love turmeric elixirs, which are great for inflammation. Check out Brooklyn Beet with both turmeric and beets. I’m convinced this was for the half marathon in Brooklyn…
And of course, can’t forget the infamous shirt…
Do you like beets? Ever taken beet shots or know anyone who has?