Monday, September 21, 2009

Beets can Improve Physical Stamina

When reaching for a protein shake, you might want to add a little beet juice to the mix. A University of Exeter study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology concluded that nitrates contained in beetroot juice can reduce oxygen uptake – which means physical exertion will be less exhausting. This might be great news for runners, cross country skiers and others looking for a way to increase their endurance.

The word nitrates might remind you hot dogs – nitrates are chemicals used in some hot dogs and cured meats as a preservative, and has been linked to cancer. So should you shy away from vegetables containing nitrates as well? Actually, no. Ironically, nitrate rich vegetables like beets and green vegetables, have high levels of C and D, which inhibit the production of cancer-causing compounds. These vegetables are in fact cancer fighting foods.

The beetroot study tested eight men ages 19 to 38 for six days. The men drank 500 milliliters of juice per day. Information was gathered as to how long the men could cycle on an exercise bike. The men then drank a placebo of black currant juice, and were retested. The results showed that the eight men were able to cycle for about 90 additional seconds during the beetroot period, coming to a total of 11 or 12 minutes. This works out to an approximate 16% increase in endurance.

Scientists surmise that the nitrites are able to reduce the amount of oxygen needed during physical exertion, therefore having more oxygen stores to burn up.

Another benefit the test subjects gained was lowered blood pressure.

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