If you hang around the sports nutrition world you'll see there's a lot of fuss about beetroot juice, which has recently been promoted to a Grade A supplement by the Australian Institute of Sport. Supplements are only rated Grade A if there is an evidence level that the supplement directly contributes to optimal performance. Studies have found that athletes supplementing with beetroot juice are able to exercise for longer at the same pace. Recreational athletes appear to gain larger benefits than professionals.
Why is beetroot special? The naturally occurring nitrates in beetroot are converted in the body to nitric oxide which is is a potent vasodilator - it relaxes the smooth muscle lining the artery walls to improve blood flow and oxygen delivery to working muscles. This affect also keeps the blood vessels open and relaxed, helping to keep blood pressure down - beetroot juice has also been demonstrated to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.
So whether you are trying to improve your exercise endurance, improve your blood pressure or just add more veggies to your diet - check out my beetroot smoothie. I've based it on the awesome "can't beet me smoothie" recipe in Run Fast, Eat Slow but changed it to have more veggies and less fruit. This brings down the calorie content for people not knocking out 2 hour runs.
- 2-3 baby beetroots
- 250ml coconut water (unsweetened)
- 1 apple cut into chunks
- cup of frozen raspberries
- knob of ginger, peeled
- 1 tab almond butter
- Blend in a high speed blender for 1 minute
- Serves 2