Background on Beetroot
Beetroot was first cultivated by the Romans. In the 19th Century it was discovered that Beetroot could be converted into sugar and became very popular (BBC good food 2017.) Today a diet high in fruit and vegetables is widely known to promote a balanced diet and provide daily health benefits. With a growing interest in functional foods and possible health benefits beetroot is fast becoming a popular root vegetable. It is widely grown in this country and eaten daily as a vegetable and also used a a food colouring.
Beetroot is a great source of nutritional value, including the greens, which are rich in Calcium and Iron and vitamins A and C and can be cooked in the same way as spinach. Beetroots are also an excellent source of folic acid and a good source of fibre, magnesium and potassium.
Although beetroot contains a high sugar content , most people can safely eat beetroot 2-3 times a week enjoying sweet, earthy flavours and benefiting from all the nutrients.
Why is is Beetroot popular?
Beetroot contains Nitrate a source of energy . Since 2009 research into beetroot with non elite athletes has shown that nitrate from beetroot juice may sustain a higher level of power before fatigue kick in.
Allowing you to exercise for longer, by using less energy to do the same amount of work.
However it is worth knowing that to get the recommended amount you would need to consume 3-4 beetroots a day ( 200 g). Therefore in a concentrated form, beetroot juice is a more feasible option. a dose of 500 ml of beetroot juice or 170 of concentrated beetroot, or a shot of 200 g of cooked beetroot has been used in research studies and found to be effective.
Research studies have shown that Nitrate peaks 2-3 hours after consumption and gradually decline after within a 12 hour period. Wylie et al 2013 suggest that the optimal ingestion time could be 2-2 1/2 hours before exercise.
Cermak et al 2012 contrast this by suggesting Nitrate loading for 3-7 days prior to a competition resulting in high levels of Nitrate within the body.
Factors to consider
Nitrate is also found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach and rocket, celery and cress. The efficacy of uptake nitrate may depend on factors such as the ability of participant, including age, diet, and health and fitness status; the intensity, duration, and type of the exercise challenge. The amount of dose and duration of the nitrate supplementation .
Other Possible benefits of beetroot
It is worth noting that beetroot consumption may offer beneficial effects for hypertension, atherosclerosis , type II diabetes and dementia. ( Clifford et al 2015)
Beetroot can cause urine and stool colouration ,however, this is harmless and temporary.
Antibacterial mouthwash can also inhibit the effects of nitrate uptake in the body and reduces the benefits of beetroot. Initially beetroot juice is converted into Nitrate in the saliva glands by bacteria. Using mouthwash removes the bacteria and blocks this happening.
BBC Good food , 2017.howto/guide/ingredient-focus-beetroot[viewed 21 November 2018]. Availablefrom https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-beetroot
CERMAK, N.M., M.J. GIBALA and VAN LOON, L. J. C, 2012. Nitrate Supplementation’s Improvement of 10-km Time-Trial Performance in Trained Cyclists. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 22(1), 64-71
CLIFFORD, T. et al., 2016. The effects of beetroot juice supplementation on indices of muscle damage following eccentric exercise. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 116(2), 353-362
LEE J. WYLIE et al., 2013. Beetroot juice and exercise: pharmacodynamic and dose-response relationships. Journal of Applied Physiology, 115(3), 325-336