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Higher, faster, stronger. Scientists told about the unexpected properties of beets and its juice

Recently, athletes are increasingly looking at beets as a miracle product that improves performance. Scientists have said this is true.

Such a simple root crop as beetroot seems to have received a “second life” – in recent years, athletes are increasingly turning to it as a natural means of increasing performance, writes Science Alert .

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Some drink beetroot juice, others prefer to just eat the root vegetable, and still others use the powdered form for drinks. However, does beet consumption really affect how fast we can run a race or climb a mountain on a bike?

Hidden Benefits

Back in 2020, scientists conducted a large systematic review that included 80 clinical trials at once, in which recipients consumed beets in one way or another. Then scientists discovered that the consumption of beetroot juice benefits athletes.

We are talking about a sport in which every second or centimeter counts, beet juice really provides hidden benefits. For example, in a 16 km time trial on a bicycle, the benefit associated with beet consumption was equivalent to 48 seconds.

However, when scientists delved into subgroups within the studies, they found that beetroot juice would not be effective for women and elite athletes. Although the researchers also note that this could be due to the fact that these subgroups simply did not have enough recipients.

In 2021, scientists conducted another systematic review that included 73 studies and focused on endurance athletes – runners, swimmers and cyclists. The results of the study were similar to the previous ones.

The scientists found that supplementing with beets and other nitrate-rich vegetables improved athletes’ time to exhaustion by an average of 25.3 seconds and distance traveled by 163 meters. However, the researchers note that these improvements were observed only in recreational athletes, but not in elite athletes and people leading a sedentary lifestyle. Also, this analysis did not take into account studies of women.

What’s in a beetroot?

The researchers point out that beets are rich in nitrates and anthocyanins, both of which provide health benefits, but nitrates provide us with the benefits in the first place.

Once in the human body, nitrates are converted to nitrites by local bacteria in the mouth, and then, under the acidic conditions of the stomach, nitrites are converted to nitric oxide, which is absorbed into the bloodstream.

Nitric oxide dilates the blood vessels, which speeds up the delivery of oxygen to the muscles, so energy can be burned to fuel the exercising muscles. As a result, less energy is spent on productivity, which means that a person will take longer to get tired.

How to use beetroot juice?

Researchers at the Australian Institute of Sport have classified beetroot as a Group A supplement. Scientists note that beetroot supplementation can be beneficial for training and competitions that last no more than half an hour, as well as for team sports with breaks.

To improve performance, it is recommended to consume a beetroot product that will contain 350 to 600 mg of inorganic nitrates. At the same time, scientists note that the beetroot itself contains about 250 mg per 100 grams of the product, and to obtain the optimal effect, it is recommended to eat about 200 g of the root crop.

Researchers also recommend consuming the product 2-3 hours before training to give nitrates time to turn into nitric oxide and be absorbed into the bloodstream. In addition, it is recommended to consume beetroot juice a few days before the competition in order to improve the result.

The use of antibacterial products, including mouthwashes, chewing gums and hard candies, is also not recommended – this can kill the bacteria in the mouth needed to process nitrates.

What are the disadvantages?

First , you need to be prepared for the fact that your urine and stool may turn red.

Second , some may experience indigestion.

Where else are nitrates found?

According to Evangeline Manzioris, a nutritionist at the University of South Australia, nitrates are not only found in beets. Vegetables high in nitrates also include:

  • celery;
  • arugula;
  • spinach;
  • chicory;
  • leek;
  • parsley;
  • kohlrabi;
  • Chinese cabbage.

Previously , Focus wrote about what scientists called products – sources of sexual power .

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