The vitamin and mineral content of beetroot juice is impressive. In terms of vitamin content, it contains high levels of vitamin C, folic acid, beta carotene (vitamin A) and vitamins B1, B2 and B3. Mineral wise, beetroot juice boasts a long list of valuable nutrients: potassium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, copper, selenium and iron. Additionally, beetroot juice contains protein in the form of a complete set of amino acids. Not too shabby!
A recent British medical study at the University of Exeter shed some light on the properties of beetroot juice that can increase stamina. Specifically, the study showed that athletes were able to exercise 16 percent longer than normal, because the nitrates in beetroot juice reduced oxygen uptake. This reduced uptake, in turn, had the effect of making workouts less fatiguing.
Professor Andy Jones, who organized the study, was quoted as saying: "Our study is the first to show that nitrate-rich food can increase exercise endurance."
As it turns out, the nitrates in beetroot juice may not only increase stamina, but lower blood pressure as well. The evidence is courtesy of yet another British study, this time courtesy of The London School of Medicine. Professor Amrita Ahluwalia's study determined that the nitrate levels in 500 milliliters of beetroot juice a day had a measurable effect on blood pressure reduction. The findings further showed that not only did the nitrates in the beetroot juice reduce blood pressure a mere few hours after ingestion, but that the positive effects still registered a full day after ingestion.
How nitrates reduce blood pressure is still under scrutiny, but the researchers believe that nitrite may act as a blood vessel expander, thus improving circulation.
The widening of blood vessels caused by nitrate ingestion not only improves circulation, but also decreases the risk of heart disease, artery hardening and vascular disease. In short, by expanding the blood vessels, the nitrates in beetroot juice supply more blood to the heart, and along with it, more oxygen. Improved blood and oxygen flow through the heart keeps it healthy, and also reduces the chest pain that accompanies heart disease and hardened arteries. For years, doctors have recommended a different form of nitrate to patients with chest pain and heart disease: nitroglycerine. While the body makes nitroglycerine already, the production of it slows and eventually stops with age, leading to the heart and artery diseases associated with aging. Two cups of beetroot juice daily are recommended for increasing nitrate levels to a degree that's beneficial for the cardiovascular system.
Best ways to get beetroot juice:
Aside from growing your own beets, the cheapest way to get fresh, organic beetroot juice is to juice them yourself. Organic beets can be picked up at your local farmers market (when in season), or in the organic produce section of a supermarket. Pre-packaged beetroot juice is available, but it's pricey: As of this writing, costs average around $6 or $7 per bottle. A case of six 16-ounce bottles tends to sell for about $40, so buying in bulk doesn't seem to offer any cost savings. If you decide to go the store-bought route, well-known companies like Lakewood, Biotta and Eden Organic sell beetroot juice.
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