Beetroot is showing wonderful benefits to help improve athletic performance, lower blood pressure, and increase blood flow. A new Canadian study suggests that drinking beetroot juice can keep the brain young and boost muscle power.
In a new study, researchers stated that drinking beetroot before exercising may aid brain performance for older adults. They found that older adults who consumed beetroot juice prior to engaging in moderately intense exercise demonstrated greater connectivity in brain regions associated with motor function.
The study, published in the Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences is the first to suggest that beet juice might actually enhance the effect that exercise training has on the ageing brain.
Beetroot has been used since the middle ages as a treatment for ailments, particularly those relating to the blood and digestion.
Beetroot is a good source of iron, vitamin C and folate (naturally occurring folic acid). It also contains nitrates, betaine, magnesium and other antioxidants (notably betacyanin).
It is high in dietary nitrate, which the body converts to nitrite and then nitric oxide. Nitric oxide increases blood flow and targets areas that are especially in need. It is also known to help relax blood vessels.
Numerous studies have linked the nitrate in beets to better exercise performance across age groups, greater blood flow to the brain, and improvement in conditions ranging from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to diabetes to hypertension.
Just plain exercise increases blood flow to the brain, so the nitric oxide from the beet juice amplifies the effect.
This study, which suggests that as one age diet could be critically important to the maintenance of brain health and functional independence included 26 men and women aged 55 and above.
These were individuals that do not exercise, had high blood pressure, and took no more than two medications for high blood pressure. Three times a week for six weeks, they drank a beetroot juice supplement called Beet-It Sport Shot one hour before a moderately intense, 50-minute walk on a treadmill.
Half the participants received Beet-It containing 560 mg of nitrate; the others received a placebo Beet-It with very little nitrate.
Post-exercise analysis showed that, although the study groups have similar levels of nitrate and nitrite in the blood before drinking the juice, the beetroot juice group had much higher levels of nitrate and nitrite than the placebo group after exercise.
Meanwhile in 2016, researchers indicate that daily intake of beetroot juice significantly boosts muscle power in patients with heart failure in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Heart Failure.
The scientists reported data from nine patients with heart failure. Two hours after the treatment, patients demonstrated a 13 per cent increase in power in muscles that extend the knee.
The researchers observed the most substantial benefit when the muscles moved at the highest velocities. The increase in muscle performance was significant in quick, power-based actions, but researchers saw no improvements in performance during longer tests that measure muscle fatigue.
The researchers also pointed out that participants experienced no major side effects from the beet juice, including no increase in heart rates or reductions in blood pressure, which is important in patients with heart failure.
Heart failure can have various triggers, from heart valve problems to viral infections, and with a resultant gradual loss in heart’s pumping capability.
Heart failure becomes a whole-body problem because of the metabolic changes that happen, increasing the risk of conditions such as insulin resistance and diabetes and generally leading to weaker muscles overall.
Moreover, drinking beet juice is helpful in blood pressure control. A 2008 study published in Hypertension examined the effects of ingesting two glasses (500 millilitres) of beetroot juice in healthy volunteers and found that blood pressure was significantly lowered after ingestion.
Researchers hypothesised this was likely due to the high nitrate levels contained in beet juice and that the high nitrate vegetables could prove to be a low-cost and effective way to treat cardiovascular conditions and blood pressure.
Another study conducted in 2010 found similar results, concluding that drinking beetroot juice lowered blood pressure considerably on a dose-dependent basis.
Raw beetroot juice is also a remedy cancer. In a recent clinical trial, 22 patients with advanced inoperable cancers that took beet juice for three to four months showed dramatic improvements.
Also, a 2011 study on rats found that beetroot extract lowered total cholesterol and triglycerides and increased HDL (good) cholesterol. It also reduced oxidative stress on the liver. Moreover, researchers believe beetroot’s cholesterol-lowering potential is likely due to its phytonutrients like flavonoids.