The benefits of beet juice keep racking up as an increasing number of studies take aim at this powerful natural ingredient. Among the benefits most applicable to bodybuilders, research shows that beet juice can lower blood pressure, dilate blood vessels, and improve blood flow to muscle tissue— making it an ideal natural pre-workout supplement. It can also make you smarter. Recent research, from the University of Reading in England, set out to test exactly how much beet juice is needed to reap its myriad nutritional benefits. Researchers administered doses of 0 grams, 100 grams, 250 grams, or 500 grams of beetroot juice to subjects and then monitored them at regular intervals for 24 hours, looking for changes in blood pressure and nitric oxide (NO) levels. They found that the lowest dose administered (100 grams) was enough to trigger a significant spike in NO production, as well as a drop in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The researchers observed that the effects increased in tandem with the dosage, strengthening the case for the NO-boosting and blood pressure-lowering effects of nitrate-rich vegetables. And the benefits aren’t just theoretical. When a 2010 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology paired beetroot juice with exercise, researchers witnessed a significant increase in athletic performance; men who ingested beet juice pre-workout demonstrated improved oxygen efficiency and were thereby able to exercise longer than the control group that received a placebo.
Beet juice even helps you flex your mental muscle: In a Wake Forest University study conducted last year, subjects who consumed 16 ounces of beet juice a day for two days showed an increase in blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain—the area responsible for processes like planning and problem solving.
One thing that all of the latest research on beet juice has in common is a concluding note that more research should be done to investigate further benefits of the substance. Clearly, scientists believe that there is even more to this versatile ingredient than has already been discovered. Until then, pick up a pre-workout supplement containing beet juice and start reaping the benefits.
REFERENCE: D.A. Hobbs et al., Br J Nutr., 14:1-9, E-pub March 14, 2012.