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Originally published February 18 2010

Beet Juice Boosts Athletic Performance by up to 16 Percent

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Regular consumption of beet juice may boost athletic performance, increasing endurance while lowering blood pressure and reducing fatigue, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Exeter and published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

On two separate occasions, the researchers had the same group of eight men between the ages of 19 and 38 drink 500 milliliters of an unknown beverage for six consecutive days, then perform a series of standardized tests on an exercise bicycle. On one occasion, the beverage was 500 milliliters of organic beetroot juice; on the other, it was a placebo of blackcurrant cordial.

The researchers found that men who drank the beetroot juice were able to cycle for 16 percent longer (92 seconds) than those who drank the placebo. This, in turn, would allow a cyclist to cover a set distance 2 percent faster. Participants also had a lower resting blood pressure after drinking beetroot juice than they did after drinking the placebo.

The beetroot juice apparently caused the body to burn oxygen more slowly, thus staving off tiredness longer.

"We were amazed by the effects of beetroot juice on oxygen uptake, because these effects cannot be achieved by any other known means, including training," said researcher Andy Jones. "I am sure professional and amateur athletes will be interested in the results of this research.

Jones noted that the research might also lead to benefits for people who have diseases related to lack of physical activity, such as metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and respiratory diseases.

"I am also keen to explore the relevance of the findings to those people who suffer from poor fitness and may be able to use dietary supplements to help them go about their daily lives," he said.

The researchers do not know why beets cause the observe effect, but they believe that the nitrates in the vegetables might slow the body's oxygen uptake.

"Certainly, a diet high in nitrate-rich fruits and vegetables is good for your heart health and this study provides further evidence of this," Jones said.

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