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A team of scientists performed an interesting study in which they investigated the effects of drinking beetroot juice during exercise. When you exercise, the blood vessels in your muscles dilate and blood flow is increased. This helps to up your oxygen supply. Up to a certain point, the oxygen you have available is enough to meet your energy needs. However, when oxygen can’t be supplied to your muscles fast enough, you can’t produce enough of a substance called “ATP,” which is needed for further muscle contraction.
After exercise, you need extra oxygen to replenish ATP and glycogen and to remove lactic acid. The researchers decided to find out if beetroot juice could help out with this process.
They discovered that administering beetroot juice (in the amount of 500 milliliters/day for six days) during exercise decreases resting systolic blood pressure and oxygen consumption while walking and running. This means that your heart doesn’t have to work as hard and that your muscles will have greater endurance and recover faster.
Try drinking some beet juice the next time you exercise. Or, at least consider adding beets to your diet. Beets contain some special phytonutrients called “betalains.” “Betanin” and “vulgaxanthin” are two betalains found in beets that have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Beets are also high in two carotenoids — lutein and zeaxanthin. Both of these substances are great for promoting eye health. Just a quick note about betalains: they can be lost the longer beets are cooked. If you are steaming your beets, keep the cooking time to 15 minutes or less.