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Looking for an energy drink? Beet juice is a healthy alternative for athletes to help endure tough workouts and improve performance. Many athletes already know about the wonderful properties of beets, but do you know why they are so healthy?

In 2010, eleven fit women and men were chosen to run two trials of five kilometers on a treadmill, once after consuming beet juice and once after consuming a cranberry relish as a placebo. This study showed that after consuming the beet juice, the participants ran 12.3 km per hour compared to the speed of 11.9 km per hour before drinking the juice. The participants were able to run 5% faster in the final 1.1 miles.

Nitrate, a molecule found in beets, can cause cancer and is commonly found in processed meat. However, when consumed in the vegetable form instead of the sodium nitrate form, nitrate can increase the volume of blood vessels and, therefore, help to increase the amount of oxygen available for hard-working muscles. Nitrate also helps muscles use oxygen effectively so muscles don’t need as much oxygen. This molecule is responsible for improving the athletes’ average running speed by 0.4 km, as shown in the studies mentioned earlier.

Nitrate holds the key to beets’ health benefits.

Beets’ health benefits are not limited to athletes because they can also help those who are suffering from high blood pressure.  In a trial conducted at Queen Mary University of London, 64 participants between the ages of 18- 84 were split into two groups. All participants were diagnosed with high blood pressure, but only half were taking medication at the time they were enrolled in the study. One group drank one glass of beetroot juice everyday while the placebo group drank one glass of beetroot juice without nitrate. After four weeks, patients who drank the beet juice with nitrate had reduced blood pressure compared to the nitrate-free beetroot juice drinkers, but their blood pressure escalated again after these participants stopped drinking the beet juice for two weeks.

Fascinated by all the positive effects of beets? Beetroot is a healthy choice for people who are looking to become better athletes and those who are seeking to improve their health in general. However, if you start consuming beetroot, don’t be afraid when you see purple urine. It is a natural side-effect!

Feature Image Source: beets by Kelsey

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