Beets are an amazing food. Not only are they packed with dietary fiber, but they’re loaded with potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron, vitamin B6, and magnesium. Their dark color and unique flavor come from antioxidants that can reduce oxidative stress in your body, as well as combat heart disease.
Turns out beets are also a wonderful pre-workout supplement. According to a study conducted at Wake Forest University, a shot of beetroot juice before a workout can lead to improved cognitive function. In fact, the juice can make older adults’ brains work as efficiently as a younger adult’s brain.
The researchers examined the effects of the juice on 26 adults over the age of 55. None of the adults exercised, and all had high blood pressure (some even taking medications to treat hypertension). The adults were given a beet juice supplement three times a week, and for six weeks they engaged in 50-minute moderate intensity treadmill walk session.
After just six weeks of exercise and beet juice supplementation, the adults’ cognitive function drastically improved. The juice and exercise enhanced the function of the motor cortex, as well as the secondary connections between the insula and motor cortex. These parts of the brain are responsible for mobility, leading to more efficient activation of the muscles. The experimental group (which received the nitrate-rich beet juice) saw stimulation in their somatomotor cortex, which leads to better processing of the information coming from the muscles.
Beets are an amazing source of nitrate, which the body needs in order to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is responsible for the dilation of your blood vessels, so increasing nitric oxide production can enhance circulation and reduce hypertension. Beet juice is more than just a brain booster—it’s also a very heart-smart supplement.
If you want to enhance your physical performance at the gym, consider taking a shot of beet juice 30 minutes before your workout. Not only will it enhance nitric oxide production in your body (leading to better blood flow during your workout), but it will also help your brain process the signals sent from your muscles more efficiently. This can lead to increased mobility, better muscle function, and improved athletic performance.
Such a simple veggie, but such amazing benefits.
1. Meredith Petrie, W. Jack Rejeski, Swati Basu, Paul J. Laurienti, Anthony P. Marsh, James L. Norris, Daniel B. Kim-Shapiro, Jonathan H. Burdette. “Beet Root Juice: An Ergogenic Aid for Exercise and the Aging Brain.” The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 2016; glw219.