Beet juice: It does a body very good

Nadine Bells
Shine from Yahoo! Canada

Beetroot juice is probably not part of your daily routine. Maybe it should be. The natural elixir has been getting a lot of press lately, both for its antioxidant properties and its workout-enhancement benefits.

Faster and Stronger

A new study out of Exeter University found beetroot juice enhances speed, energy and stamina during workouts. It also helps cleanse the body — Gwyneth Paltrow should dedicate a GOOP newsletter to it — lowers blood pressure and decreases your risk of dementia.

Scientists say the beet’s superpowers are linked the abundance of nitrite in the vegetable.
Nitrite widens blood vessels to increase oxygen flow to the muscles, essentially maximizing the air we inhale. It can therefore reduce the amount of oxygen the muscles require for physical activity.

The study recruited cyclists to race after drinking pints of beetroot juice. Some of the drinks had been altered to be free of nitrites. Each cyclist raced four times, not knowing if his beet juice was nitrite-rich or nitrite-free. Everyone’s time was faster by a few seconds after consuming the nitrite-rich beverage.

[Related: Five surprising health benefits of celery]


"These findings show an improvement in performance that, at competition level, could make a real difference — particularly in an event like the Tour de France where winning margins can be tight,” researcher Andrew Jones said.

This better use of oxygen could also prove beneficial to frail and elderly people.

Healthier

Beets offer more than just nitrite. Beet juice is packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin B-6, iron and calcium. They have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Beet fibre is good for digestive health.

An Italian study linked the carotenoids found in beets — lutein and zeaxanthin — as unique support to eye health.

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In some lab studies, the betanin pigments found in beets have also been shown to reduce tumor cell growth.

Yucky?

Despite appealing stats, drinking beetroot juice still might literally leave a bad taste in your mouth. Diluting beetroot juice with other milder juices will make it less potent.

Blisstree suggests making the transition to gulping the good stuff by juicing a small peeled beetroot — smaller beets are sweeter — with two carrots and a celery stalk. Add an apple for additional sweetness.

Or, juice a beetroot with half a cucumber and one cup of pineapple chunks for a cleansing drink.

[Related: 15 new superfoods you should be eating now]


Warning: The Daily Mail reports a “quirk of genetics” that leaves some beet-consumers with purple urine.

Scientists call it “beeturia.” While it’s rarely anything to be concerned about, Whole Foods recommends those experiencing beeturia visit a doctor to ensure there are no problems with iron metabolism.

(Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Sheryl Nadler)

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