Scientists from the University of South Australia found beetroot could boost sports performance.
They found that beetroot, grapes, sour cherries, and pine bark extract, which contribute to nitric oxide availability in the body, boost endurance exercise performance.
The research is published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition and was conducted by Noah D’Unienville et al.
In the study, the team used data from 118 studies involving 1,872 participants from 25 different countries.
They examined the effect of consuming nitrate-rich foods (typically green leafy vegetables), foods that contain polyphenols (such as berries, cherries, and cocoa), and L-Citrulline (found in watermelon) on exercise endurance performance.
The team found that the nitrate levels contained in beetroot, which have been shown to boost blood flow and increase the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to muscles during exercise, helped athletes perform better more quickly.
Similarly, the polyphenols in grapes, cherries, and pine bark extract helped protect nitrate from degradation in the body, boosting stamina.
And, despite the ability of L-citrulline to boost nitric oxide production in the body, consuming watermelon (high in L-citrulline) did not boost exercise performance.
These findings provide further evidence of foods as natural endurance enhancers.
The study shows that beetroot (among other foods) can boost performance, but other nitrate-rich foods such as red spinach, Swiss chard, and rhubarb, did not show similar benefits.
Also, while grapes, pine bark extract, and sour cherries can help athletes perform better and faster, there are no effects on other polyphenol-rich foods, including blackcurrant, cocoa, ginseng, green tea, or raisins.
The results show that more effects among athletes who were less fit, and also that men were more likely to benefit from these foods than women.
The team suggests that trying to get fit takes time and effort but add a glass of beetroot juice to your training schedule and you just might see the difference.
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