Beet the Brain Drain: Veggie Secret for More Muscle and Smarter Choices!

The humble beetroot has come a long way in terms of recognition for its health benefits, especially its impact on athletic performance. But the effects of this bright red root vegetable may go beyond athletes and extend to anyone looking to improve their fitness level and mental acuity.

By now, you’re probably aware of the research proving the effectiveness of beetroot and beet juice in boosting blood circulation and transporting oxygen to muscles, thanks to the naturally occurring nitrates found in the vegetable. Moreover, it is reported that up to 90 percent of the athletes at the 2012 London Olympics used beet juice as a supplement in their diets.

Recently, researchers at the University of Exeter discovered one more reason why nitrates make beets a must-have food item – it boosts cognitive performance during prolonged exercise.

Going Beyond Physical Endurance

The study conducted by the University of Exeter researchers involved 16 male team-sport athletes who participated in two sessions on a stationary bike. These sessions consisted of intermittent sprints, active and passive recovery times. During the active recovery periods, the athletes were asked to complete various cognitive tests designed to measure their response time and accuracy.

The preparation differed between the two sessions. For one session, participants consumed two shots of nitrate-rich beet juice daily for seven days and took a double shot 2.5 hours before they started cycling. In the other session, the beet juice had all nitrates removed.

The results were striking – athletes achieved 3.5 percent more work when they consumed the nitrate-rich beet juice compared with the placebo. Moreover, they were able to make the same decisions, only faster, according to the study’s lead author, Chris Thompson.

The reason? The nitrate-rich beet juice may prevent the decline in cognitive performance that usually occurs during prolonged intense exercise by delivering vital oxygen to decision-making areas of the brain.

Beets for Everyone

The findings of this study provide strong support for the idea that athletes should incorporate beets into their diet. However, this recommendation can extend to anyone wanting to boost endurance and sharpen their thinking.

Although eating beets can be just as beneficial as drinking their juice, it might be more convenient to consume beet juice because it contains a known concentration of nitrates. There are now many beet-based juices and supplements available on the market.

It’s important not to skip eating beets altogether because they can be enjoyed in various delicious dishes. Additionally, there are many other nitrate-rich vegetables to add to your diet, including spinach, green beans, carrots, cabbage, collard greens, and radishes. They all have a positive impact on cardiovascular and overall health.

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re an endurance athlete looking for a competitive edge or an individual aiming to improve their mental sharpness and overall fitness, incorporating beets and beet juice into your diet could be a game-changer.

The nitrate-rich vegetable can boost your blood circulation, increase oxygen transportation to the muscles, and enhance cognitive performance during extended periods of intense exercise. So, give beets a try and watch your performance soar!