Unbeetable: The Humble Root Which Fights Cancer,
Boosts Endurance and Lowers Blood Pressure
With its sweet,
earthy taste and ruby-red interior, beetroot is a favourite of foodies,
but theres far more to it than that.
how the secret weapon of sports stars increases fitness and can
help stave off cancer...
of beetroots benefits stem from the unusually high levels
of nitrates it contains gram for gram it possesses about
20 times more than most other vegetables.
suffered a bad reputation because of their use as a food additive.
had linked their commercial use to cancer and in the Sixties the
World Health Organisation set upper limits on their use. However,
recent studies have shown that nitrates in beetroot lower blood
A 2010 study
carried out by Queen Marys University in London found that
drinking just one 250ml glass of beetroot juice a day dramatically
lowered blood pressure for several hours.
It also found
that the higher the blood pressure, the greater the drop observed.
A new study
carried out by the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne,
Australia, found that a 500ml glass of the juice led to a significant
drop in blood pressure after six hours. If beetroot juice was consumed
widely, researchers say we could see a ten per cent reduction in
death from cardiovascular disease.
blood pressure because bacteria in the mouth and gut convert it
into the gas nitric oxide, which relaxes and widens the blood vessels,
allowing blood to circulate more freely.
out by the University of Exeter have shown that nitrates not only
lower blood pressure but improve stamina too.
A 2010 study
found that adults who drank 500ml of the juice a day could exercise
16 per cent longer than those given a drink supplement with nitrates
work in synergy with the other antioxidants that beetroot contains
to reduce the oxygen needed by muscles, says Stephen Bailey,
who worked on the study. This enables them to work more efficiently
and slows fatigue.
athlete David Weir put some of his gold medal-winning success at
the London Paralympics last summer down to a regular intake of beetroot
juice. England rugby player Ben Foden as well as marathon runner
Helen Davies also rate the drink as a great endurance booster.
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