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Food for stamina - beetroot juice

Photo of beetroot courtesy of Gordon Joly

Are you an athlete or sportsperson wanting more stamina or just a health enthusiast wanting to exercise for longer? Or are you an elderly or have cardiovascular, respiratory or metabolic diseases that make you lethargic? Drink beetroot juice. According to a report published in the Journal of Applied Physiology by researchers from the University of Exeter and Peninsula Medical school, drinking beetroot juice will boost your stamina and help you exercise for up to 16% longer. Nitrate in beetroot juice leads to a reduction in oxygen uptake, thus making exercise less tiring.

Researchers gave 8 men of ages between 19 and 38 years 500ml of organic beetroot juice per day for 6 consecutive days and then subjecting them to a series of tests including cycling on an exercise bike. They were also given a placebo of blackcurrant cordial on other occasions, also for 6 consecutive days, each ending with the same series of tests including cycling.

It was found that after drinking beetroot juice, the subjects were able to cycle for 675 seconds on the average while after drinking the placebo, they were only able to cycle for 583 seconds, 92 seconds less than after drinking beetroot juice. Drinking beetroot juice not only enabled the subjects to cycle for longer, they also had lower resting blood pressure.

While the researchers are not sure of how nitrate in beetroot juice increased stamina, they suspect it could be because nitrate turned into nitric oxide thereby reducing oxygen requirement of the exercise.

Professor Andy Jones of the School of Sport and Health Science, University of Exeter says he is keen to explore the relevance of these findings also to people who suffer from poor fitness who may be able to use dietary ways to help them go about their daily lives.

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