The 2012 Olympics were notable, especially for juice enthusiasts. It was the year that Olympic Village was flooded with beet juice.
Yes, along with the thousands of calories that these young, fit athletes were able to consume to fuel their performances on the field, they were chugging beet juice.
You see, in 2010, two independent studies came out that focused on beet juice, one at the University of Exeter, and one at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry. The Exeter study showed that people who drank beet juice could exercise 15 % longer. The Peninsula study, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, found that subjects used less oxygen while walking, and reduced the effort by 12%.
Another study showed that competitive cyclists who drank half a liter of beet juice before time trials rode 3% faster than without the juice. 3% might not make a big difference if you are just a regular gym-goer, but for an athlete, it’s a big bonus.
The magic of beets is that they contain nitrates, which are converted in the body to nitrites. These expand blood vessels, effectively reducing blood pressure and allowing blood to flow faster and more easily. The juice also reduces the amount of oxygen that the muscles need to function. All this means that going faster and longer takes less energy, something Olympic competitors, and the rest of us should find pretty attractive.
The same mechanisms make beet juice a good treatment for varicose veins.
Other studies show that a cup of beet juice a day causes a drop in blood pressure, and the effects start right away. The nitrates are destroyed by cooking, so you have to eat a large amount of raw beets or drink the juice to get the benefits.
All that blood red color is a sign of high antioxidant content as well, and the phyto-chemical betaine in beet juice is recommended as a cancer preventative. High in A, B1, B2, B6 and C, it’s a great source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, iron, and other minerals.
Even if you never make it to the gym, the blood vessel expanding, blood pressure reducing properties of beet juice will make you healthier, so get juicing!
Carrot Beet Cocktail
2 pounds beets, peeled
1 pound carrots, peeled
1 bunch parsley stems
1/2 large lemon
Juice everything, drink soon.