The “mechanism of action” of beets have been determined by several studies. Findings have shown that this plant can boost body systems and impact blood pressure, cognitive function, and heart health.
At present, beets are used as an ingredient in sports performance supplements. According to studies, beetroot or the taproot of the beet plant can improve athletic endurance and performance.
Found in beetroot are health-promoting compounds like quercetin, resveratrol, and betaines. However, its potential sports performance benefits have been focused on nitrates. Nitrates found in beets are turned into nitrite while some are turned into nitric oxide, which is beneficial to cardiovascular function, mitochondrial energy production, and blood pressure regulation.
Studies claimed that dietary nitrate supplementation has positive exercise benefits. It can minimize the oxygen cost of submaximal exercise or exercise done at a lower intensity compared to the maximum that a person is capable of and maximized high-intensity exercise tolerance among recreational athletes.
A study conducted in 2011 illustrated that beetroot juice full of nitrates can help boost oxygen efficiency in submaximal cycling exercise.
Beetroot, Cognitive Function, And High-Intensity Exercise
In 2017, the effects of beetroot to individuals performing high-intensity/intermittent-type exercises were carefully studied. The study was headed by Jean Nyakayiru of the Department of Human Movement Sciences at NUTRIM School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism at Maastricht University Medical Centre (Maastricht UMC+) in the Netherlands,
The team analyzed if six days of nitrate-rich beetroot juice supplementation can boost the exercise performance of trained soccer players.
The placebo consumed 800 milligrams (mg) of nitrate or two 70-mL doses of beetroot juice (without any nitrate) while 32 participants consumed two 70-milliliter (mL) doses of beetroot juice (140 mL per day) for six days.
Three hours before the exercise test, the subjects ingested the final dose. In order to measure their performance and heart rate, the distance covered during the test were used. Saliva and blood samples were also taken before the test.
The researchers determined that, as compared to the placebo group, those who ingested nitrate-rich beetroot juice have boosted their performance by 1.3 to 3.4 percent.
Aside from athletic performance, beetroot also has other significant benefits. It can contribute to cognitive function and healthy aging and the brain. A 2016 study looked into beetroot juice’s possible synergistic effect with exercise on neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to reorganize by forming new nerve cell connections).
It was concluded by the researchers that participants who exercised and drinks beetroot juice had brain networks that are more similar to younger adults. With this, the possibility of enhanced neuroplasticity can be gained by exercising regularly and drinking beetroot juice.
Other Health Benefits Of Beets
- They may have anti-cancer properties — As proven by studies in isolated human cells and rats, pigments in beets can help hinder the growth of cancer cells.
- They can help improve digestive health — Beets contain good amounts of fiber, which is needed for digestion. It can also reduce your risk of various chronic health conditions.
- They are rich in nutrients yet beets only contain a few calories — Beets are full of vitamins and minerals but low in calories and fat.
- They can help you lose weight — Beets have low calorie and high water content, both of which can be good for those trying to lose weight.