Beetroot Benefits Both Athletes and Heart Patients

SONY DSCAs we have mentioned in the past, new research from Kansas State University has confirmed some of the health benefits of beetroot.  Beetroot has been shown to help the body produce additional nitric oxide in the blood stream.  This research has shown that beetroot juice, which is loaded with nitrate, which is reduced to nitric oxide in the blood, increases blood flow to the heart and extremities.  This terrific article details some of the findings.

Nitric oxide is a vasodilator which signals the blood vessels to open, thus allowing more blood, oxygen and nutrients to the muscles.  We have discussed the benefits of increasing blood flow via nitric oxide earlier in this blog. The Auburn Football team recently revealed that players routinely drink a beetroot supplement prior to each game.  Could it have helped the Auburn football team’s success over the past few years?  At least one exercise physiologist thinks so.

“Our research, published in the journal Physiology, has shown that the nitrate found in beetroot concentrate increases blood flow to skeletal muscles during exercise,” said David Poole, professor of exercise kinesiology and anatomy and physiology at Kansas State Univ.

Again from the article:  “The beetroot juice consumption resulted in a 38 percent higher blood flow to the skeletal muscles during exercise and was preferential to the less-oxygenated, fast-twitch muscles.”  The fast twitch muscle fibers receiving an extra dose of oxygen and increased efficiency in the removal of lactic acid is huge since these are the muscle fibers involved in explosive movements like sprinting and jumping.  Precisely what football players need!

Beyond athletes though, beetroot, and specifically nitric oxide increases the amount of blood and oxygen that gets to the skeletal muscles.  This is important because one of the best therapies for those struggling with heart disease is getting up and moving around, which in their weakened state is very difficult. Poole said, “Remember, for every one football player in the United States, there are many thousands of heart failure patients that would benefit from this therapy.   It’s a big deal because even if you can only increase oxygen delivery by 10 percent, that can be the difference between a patient being wheelchair-bound versus getting up and walking around and interacting with his or her family.”