(Natural News) Research shows that beetroot (Beta vulgaris) may improve both physical health and brain health. A review published in HerbalGram looked at the benefits of beetroot and how it may help support body systems, such as cardiovascular health and cognitive function.
In recent years, beetroot has emerged as a promising exercise performance supplement ingredient. Beetroot contains many health-enhancing compounds, such as betaines, resveratrol, and quercetin. In addition, it is rich in nitrates, which have been the primary compound the studies in the review focused on.
One of the studies reviewed, which was published in 2017, aimed to determine the effects of nitrate supplementation on physiological functioning and exercise performance in trained runners and triathletes during short- and long-distance time trials. Participants in this study consumed either nitrate-rich beetroot juice or nitrate-depleted beetroot juice after completing four exercise performance tests.
The study, conducted by researchers from Leeds Beckett University and the University of Newcastle in the U.K., revealed that supplementation with nitrate-rich beetroot juice may be ergogenic, which means that it can enhance athletic performance. However, it was only effective during shorter-distance time trials at a high work rate and not during longer-distance time trials at a lower rate.
Another study, which was conducted by researchers at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, examined at the effect of beetroot on high-intensity or intermittent-type exercise. The study examined whether a six-day nitrate-rich beetroot juice supplementation would improve exercise performance in trained soccer players.
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The results showed that consuming nitrate-rich beetroot juice for six days effectively improves high-intensity intermittent type exercise performance in trained soccer players. This suggests that supplementation with nitrate-rich beetroot juice could be an effective way to boost exercise performance.
When it comes to cognitive performance, beetroot juice also has beneficial effects. A study published in 2016 investigated whether beetroot juice consumption might have a synergistic effect with exercise on neuroplasticity in older men.
Results of the study showed that older men who drank beetroot juice for six weeks with exercise had brain networks closely similar to those of younger adults, suggesting that beetroot juice combined with exercise potentially enhanced neuroplasticity. In addition, they had lower mean heart rates compared to the placebo group. (Related: Beetroot juice found to decrease blood pressure and could be a great alternative treatment for people with cardiovascular disease.)
The findings of these studies support the use of beetroot supplementation as a natural way to boost athletic performance and endurance and cognition.
Other health benefits of beetroot
This popular root vegetable offers many health benefits. Beetroots have a great nutritional profile; they are low in calories, but rich in vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid, fiber, manganese, potassium, and vitamin C. The greens are also nutritious. They are rich in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C. Beetroots can also do the following:
- Aid in weight loss: Beetroots are low in calories and high water – both of which are helpful for losing weight. Beetroots’ fiber content may also help promote weight loss by reducing appetite and making you feel full.
- Help fight inflammation: Betalains, which are the pigments in beetroots, have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce or fight inflammation.
- Help ward off cancer: There is some evidence that the antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory property of beetroots can help prevent cancer.
- Improve digestive health: As mentioned earlier, beetroots are rich in fiber, which can promote digestive health and prevent digestive problems like constipation, diverticulitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Regulate blood pressure: The nitrates in beetroots can help lower blood pressure, which, in turn, help prevent heart attacks, heart failure, and stroke.
While beetroots are widely consumed as a juice, you can add them to your diet in other ways. You can eat them as a side dish, add to your salad or soup, pickle them, or use as a pizza topping.