Healthy living

Is beetroot juice the new superfood?

mmmm beetrooty.... It can boost stamina, study claims

A new study is staking a claim for beetroot juice to be the latest superfood - because it can boost stamina and even help you exercise for 16% longer.

It's all down to nitrates according to the scientists at the University of Exeter. The nitrates in beetroot juice help cut down the uptake of oxygen, which makes exercise less tiring.

Indeed drinking beetroot juice reduces oxygen uptake better than any other known method, including training.

In the small study, researchers investigated the effect of beetroot juice on 8 men between 19 and 38 years old. Over 6 days, the men were asked to drink half a litre of juice each day, before carrying out a set of tasks. On other occasions they were given a placebo (dummy) drink which did not contain beetroot juice.

The scientists found that beetroot juice increased their stamina by 92 seconds to an average of 11.25 minutes - a 2% improvement.

While this does not seem like a lot to mere mortals like us, for elite athletes it can be the difference between Olympic Gold and the dustbin of history.

Professor Andy Jones of the University of Exeter's School of Sport and Health Sciences, said: "Our study is the first to show that nitrate-rich food can increase exercise endurance. 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. I am sure professional and amateur athletes will be interested in the results of this research."

Interestingly the beetroot juice also lowered the resting blood pressure of the participants, echoing similar findings in a study last year.

The results of the study are published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

This article was published on Fri 7 August 2009

Image © Prashant ZI -

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