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Sports Nutrition Benefits of Beets

Jan 11, 2017, 16:40 PM by Kristin Price, RDN
Beet Juice
Are you looking to increase your endurance or improve your overall performance; maybe run or ride faster? Consider adding beets or beet juice to your routine.

Beets and beet juice are naturally high in nitrate and may be the answer to enhanced performance. Nitrates and nitrites are converted to the potent vasodilator nitric oxide (NO) which is important for cardiovascular function, blood flow and increasing oxygen available to muscles. This in turn increases both the power available to the muscles and the length of time that the muscles can exercise without tiring.

Research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has shown that eating cooked beets can acutely improve running performance. After eating 200 grams (7 ounces) of cooked beets, runners ran an average of 3 percent faster. In another study, beet juice consumed by cyclists enabled them to ride 16 percent longer. The scientific research is compelling, with benefits being found not just for athletes.

Beets have the power to decrease inflammation and promote detoxification within your body. The anti-inflammatory compounds in beets, betalains, are being studied for heart disease and blood pressure management. One study used beet juice and found that it dropped blood pressure by over 10 points and worked within a few hours of consuming it. Beets may also help to eliminate toxins like pesticides from our bodies.

You may be more familiar with sodium nitrates and sodium nitrites, which are used as curing agents and preservatives for meats such as sausage, bacon and hot dogs. Sodium nitrite has been linked to an increased risk of some cancers, including colorectal and pancreatic cancers. It is also important to keep in mind that the added nitrates and nitrites are used as preservatives in processed foods, which are typically calorie dense, nutrient poor, high in saturated fat and excess sodium.

Fortunately, epidemiological investigations and human toxicological studies have not shown a relationship between cancer and naturally occurring nitrates in vegetables such as beets, cauliflower, spinach, collard greens, broccoli and tomatoes.

If you want to improve your athletic performance and stamina, there is no real substitute for putting the time into your workouts. But if you are looking for a simple way to increase the length of your workouts, or if you just want that little edge in endurance or speed, then beets and beet juice may be the answer. Including beets in your diet can be an easy way to ward off inflammation, get rid of toxins from our food and environment, as well as boost athletic performance. Try juicing beets or tossing them in a salad.

Carrot & Beet Juice Boost


Ingredients:

  • 8 organic carrots, washed and peeled
  • 1 organic beet, washed and peeled
  • 1 large organic apple, washed
  • 1 small piece of raw ginger, peeled

Juice all ingredients together and enjoy!

Kristin Price, RD

Kristin Price is a Registered Dietitian in the Oncology Nutrition Program, which is part of the Oncology Supportive Care Program at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara. She has over 14 years of experience working with diverse populations in hospital, rehabilitation, and outpatient settings. With degrees in both psychology and nutrition, Kristin individualizes her approach to patients, helping them navigate the latest scientific research and trends in nutrition. Her experience allows her to assist individuals meet their personal health goals and improve nutrition-related health conditions.

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