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Beet Juice – Nature’s Performance Drug May Also Lower Blood Pressure

Growing numbers of elite athletes are turning to beverages with beetroot juice and tart cherry juice to provide what they hope will be a legal performance benefit. Beetroot juice has been found to enhance certain types of athletic performance. Cyclists who ingested half a liter of beetroot juice before a 2.5-mile or a 10-mile time trial were almost 3 percent faster than when they rode without drinking the juice. 

Since in the world of elite sports a 3 percent improvement in performance is enormous, athletes quickly embraced the juice as news of the studies spread. Although it isn’t clear just how beetroot juice improves performance, it seems to improve blood and oxygen flow to muscles.

Beetroot juice, while effective at improving performance in short, extremely strenuous bouts of exercise, may have less effect during longer, relatively less intense types of exertion. In other words, the juice might help an 800-meter runner but perhaps not a marathoner. It’s also likely that benefits will be most evident in someone who drinks the juice regularly, not someone who tries it for the first time on the day of a race.

 

Somewhat more palatable is tart cherry juice. Created using sharp, almost sour-tasting Montmorency cherries, it is not, strictly speaking, a performance-enhancing beverage. Instead, it affects the body’s ability to recover from hard exertion. Tart cherry juice reduced muscle pain and weakness after bouts of intense strength training as well as after a marathon.

Drinking beetroot juice every day could also help to lower blood pressure, say researchers.

They found a dose of eight ounces – around one cup – may help people with high blood pressure, cutting their readings by about 7 per cent. Tests suggest the effect is produced by beetroot’s naturally high levels of nitrate.

High concentrations of nitrate are also found in celery, cabbage and other leafy green vegetables such as spinach and some lettuce. Eating high-nitrate foods triggers a series of chemical reactions in the blood, which can increase oxygen in areas of the body which are specifically lacking supply.

Researchers say, ‘Our hope is that increasing one’s intake of vegetables with a high dietary nitrate content, such as green leafy vegetables or beetroot, might be a lifestyle approach that one could easily employ to improve cardiovascular health.’

Previous research has shown beetroot increases stamina, and can boost blood supply to vital areas of the brain.

Article Sources:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/08/looking-for-fitness-in-a-glass-of-juice/?ref=health
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2309667/Beetroot-juice-helps-lower-blood-pressure-A-glass-day-reduce-7--say-researchers.html April 2013

 Dr. Iverson's Comment

Beet root has been considered one of Nature’s “superfoods” because of its antioxidant potential found in its dark red color as well as it contains nutrients that support liver health.  One aspect of the article I particularly liked was the benefit of naturally occurring nitrates found in plants.  In fact, one of the chemistry tests we perform at the clinic is to determine what level of nitrate an individual has in their urine and saliva.  This value in turn tells us about vegetable intake, circulatory health, bacterial levels, and inflammation levels.    Vegetable juicing (vegetable- not fruit), is the best way to raise nitrate levels which will in turn raise nitric oxide levels which have been found to cause vasodilation and not only lower blood pressure but can also improve male sexual function.  

 

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