Friday, August 24, 2012

Food Facts Friday: The Power of Beetroot Juice

Coming home from vacation, I had plenty of time to skim through some reading material. It was a good distraction from the 2-hour delay in flights due to area thunder and lightening storms. So taking advantage of this delay and staying positive, I started to read my Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN)  2012 Summer Issue. SCAN is a dietetic practice group within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). Don't you just love government acronyms?

I love reading the SCAN articles, they are quite informative. This issue was no different. In this issue, I stumbled on a little blurb about beetroot juice and it's ability to improve performance. My eyes bugged out!
Improve Performance?
Read on, girl, read on!
Apparently, beetroot juice is a potent source of nitrate, which "has the ability to improve endurance exercise efficiency."

I knew nitric oxide (NO) could help regulate blood flow, muscle contraction and mitochondrial biogenesis, but I didn't know we could get this help from something as simple as beetroot juice!
Mitochondria: Energy Powerhouse of the Cell
When we eat something that contains nitrate, like beetroot juice, the nitrate is converted to nitric oxide. In this study reported by SCAN, cyclists consumed beetroot juice for six days and participated in time trials following a 60minute sub-maximal ride. When compared to the control/placebo group, the beetroot juice drinkers had higher NO blood levels and were 1.2% faster!
Not 100%faster, but hey, I'll take it!

Other studies showed how drinking 500ml (1 cup = 236.6ml) of beetroot juice for three consecutive days helped reduce the"oxygen cost" to cyclists by as much as 20%.

Beets also contain betaine, a compound that can help enhance liver and joint function and bolster muscle strength and power.
I have seen Beet It and Biona, two Organic beetroot juice brands, in Whole Foods.
Seen Beet It in the refrigerated section
I have never tried beetroot juice, but I love beets in my salad. This is one of my favorite recipes, from Allrecipes.com:
Green Salad with Beets
If your not crazy about goat cheese (like my Side-kick), you can use Feta cheese, instead. Also, I use about 1/4cup (not 1/2cup) of the olive oil.

Well, I'm glad I had some beets in my salad this past week, but I don't think it was enough to help improve my NO blood levels for my 13.1 race, tomorrow. Think I'll go run to the store and buy some beetroot juice for my trip down to Virginia. Wish me luck &
TRAIN SMART TODAY!
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