According to a group of American scientists, eating a portion of baked beetroot before an athletic performance could boost an athlete’s chance of winning.
Specifically, the team from St Louis University believes the vegetable can help runners to run faster times.
Beetroot contains high levels of nitrates, a chemical which has shown to have the ability of improving athletic performance.
In a study of 11 men and women who were both fit and healthy, they were able to run a distance of five kilometres faster after consuming beetroot beforehand.
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The researchers compared the effect of beetroot with another well known superfood; cranberries.
Participants of the study were asked to complete two five kilometre runs on a treadmill, the first time after eating beetroot, and the second time after eating cranberries, or cranberry relish to be exact.
They were given a 200g portion of beetroot and cranberries, the latter of which has the same calorific content of beetroot but lower levels of nitrates.
After eating the cranberry relish their average running times were 11.9km/h, compared to an average speed of 12.3km/h after eating baked beetroot.
“During the last 1.1 miles of the run, speed was five percent faster in the beetroot trial,” the researchers wrote.
The lead author of the study, Margaret Murphy, added: “Consumption of nitrate-rich, whole beetroot improves running performance in healthy adults.
“Because whole vegetables have been shown to have health benefits, whereas nitrates from other sources may have detrimental health effects, it would be prudent for individuals seeking performance benefits to obtain nitrates from whole vegetables, such as beetroot.”
The findings support previous research that was carried out in the UK by the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter.
That study, which was carried out in 2010, found drinking beetroot juice helped muscles to perform more efficiently during exercise.
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