This bright red superfood activates the miracle molecule nitric oxide to boost blood flow throughout your body.
Apart from Aussie hamburgers and the occasional salad, most of us don’t eat much beetroot. But the modest, often forgotten vegetable is definitely one you want on your plate because it’s full of antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory benefits, enhances endurance, lowers high blood pressure and increases blood flow through your veins.
Beetroot – and beetroot juice – is an excellent source of folate and manganese, and a good source of potassium and copper. They also contain more nitrates than any other vegetable. Nitrates are converted to nitric oxide through a series of reactions, which expands blood vessels to accommodate greater blood flow. This increase in blood flow allows more oxygen and nutrients to be delivered around the body.
Research published in the Journals of Gerontology showed that supplementing with beetroot juice before a moderately intense walk on a treadmill improved brain functioning.
Beetroot the Endurance and 02 enhancer
Consuming dietary nitrates can lead to increased oxygen efficiency when exercising, as well as improve performance and endurance. A 2011 study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that consuming 500ml of beetroot juice before cycling increased performance times by 3%, and two recent studies in the Journal of Applied Physiology reported that drinking 500ml of the juice over a six-day period boosted endurance in step-up exercises by 25% and treadmill running by 15%.
Research from 2015 in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that eating beetroot can widen blood vessels and reduce the amount of oxygen muscles need to perform, lowering blood pressure and upping endurance, which lead to 16% longer exercise times.
Get on the beet
Now that beetroot is on your shopping list, make sure to prepare them properly: first, scrub the outside of raw beetroot (unless you’re into an earthier, aka dirt, taste). To cook, cover in foil and roast them at 200°C for one hour; they taste sweet once cooked.
Add cooked beetroot to salads or snack on them with olive oil and lemon juice. You can also blend them with spinach and other healthy ingredients to make a super-nitrate smoothie, or toss them in a juicer for an awesome dark red blood-flow booster.