Raw Beet Juice Reduces High Blood Pressure and Improves Athletic Performance (repeated bouts of sprinting) in Trained Soccer Players
Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No. 64 (August 23, 2017)
with Dr. James Meschino
Research Topic: Raw Beet Juice Reduces High Blood Pressure and Improves Athletic Performance (repeated bouts of sprinting) in Trained Soccer Players
Source: Journal of Human Hypertension (2016) and the journal Nutrients (2017)
The research I am citing today is from the Journal Human Hypertension (2016) and The Journal Nutrients (2017), and it features the emerging evidence that raw beet juice provides benefits both to heart health and athletic performance. I am a big fan of pomegranate juice. If you follow my research updates, then you know that I believe everyone should consume at least 4 oz. per day of pomegranate juice to help prevent prostate and breast cancer. Up until now, it is the only juice I have recommended but we have impressive data to show health benefits. But, I think we need to add to the list, raw beet juice, based on some impressive recent research. Raw beet juice is a rich source of nitrates. Once in the bloodstream, the body can convert nitrates into nitric oxide, which opens-up (dilates) blood vessels allowing more blood to circulate to the heart muscle. And during exercises, such as endurance aerobic exercise or repeated bouts of sprinting, nitric oxide improves blood and oxygen flow to muscles -including the type II fast-twitch muscles required for quick acceleration, explosive strength and sprinting. So, in the past few years, researchers have designed human studies to investigate whether or not raw beet juice consumption can improve blood circulation to the heart, relax the artery wall and reduce high blood pressure to some degree and improve other cardiovascular risk factors.
The 2016 study in the Journal- Human Hypertension recruited 24 patients with high blood pressure, between the ages of 25-68. This well-designed, randomized crossover study showed that the ingestion of 250 ml (about 8.5 fluid oz.) of raw beet juice per day produced the following outcomes:
- A lowering of systolic and diastolic blood pressure
- Decreased markers of blood vessel inflammation (i.e. CRP)
- Improved blood flow to the heart and the general circulation
- Lowering of the bad cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol)
- And Improved antioxidant status
Other studies have shown similar effects. It appears that the high nitrate content of raw beet juice provides the building block for the body to increase its production of nitric oxide, which we believe accounts for many of these cardiovascular benefits. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27278926 Beet juice also contains antioxidants, fiber, potassium, folic acid and vitamin C, some of which may account for the other benefits noted, such as lowering cholesterol, reduced inflammation and improved antioxidant status. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/truth-about-beetroot-juice. Eight ounces of beet juice contains about 100 calories – the equivalent of a little less than two fruit servings. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/truth-about-beetroot-juice
With respect to athletic performance, the improved blood flow to exercising muscles induced by higher nitric oxide levels has resulted in improved performance in various aerobic events, such as long-distance cycling, when athletes used raw beet juice prior to and during athletic competition. In 2017 a study in soccer players showed that raw beet juice can also improve the ability to perform repeated bouts of all-out sprinting, which helps them maintain more optimal speed endurance in the latter aspects of a soccer game, hockey game, basketball game, tennis, or any sport requiring repeated bouts or all-out sprint-like activity. http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/3/314/htm
So, if you are wanting to improve your blood pressure or cardiovascular risk profile, or wishing to improve your endurance performance, or your ability to sustain all-out repeated bouts of sprinting required in many sports, then you may want to add 8 oz. of raw beet juice to your daily wellness checklist or natural and approved ergogenic aids for athletic performance.
I have included the cited research papers in the text below.
1. Asgary S et al. Improvement of hypertension, endothelial function and systemic inflammation following short-term supplementation with red beet juice: a randomized crossover pilot study. J Human Hypertenstion. 2016. Oct 30 (10):627-32. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27278926
2. (WebMD Beet Juice) http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/truth-about-beetroot-juice
3. Nyakayiru J et al. Beetroot juice supplementation improves high-intensity intermittent type exercise performance in trained soccer players. 2017. Nutrients 9(3),314 http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/3/314/htm
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