The benefits of beetroot juice

Can beetroot juice improve both your sports performance and your general health?

Beetroot juice has featured in the news over this past year promoting benefits which could have applications to both sports performance and general health.

The active ingredient in beetroot that is the new ‘super-compound’ is inorganic nitrate (NO3). Beetroot is particularly rich in nitrates, however, other vegetables, such as celery, lettuce, rocket and spinach (which all have a nitrate content of around 2500mg/kg), leeks, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi and parsley (1000-2500g/ kg), and cabbage and carrot juice (500- 1000mg/kg); are also good sources.

Athletes have been the first group to realise the performance-enhancing benefits of nitrates from beetroot. Recent evidence shows that when athletes take either a single dose of beetroot juice prior to exercise, or drink it over 3-15 days, they experience an enhancement in capacity by experiencing a reduction in the oxygen cost of exercise.

Sports that would benefit from this type of supplementation are cycling and running events that last from 4-30 minutes in duration. .

The general population is also benefiting from this new evidence with a connection made between beetroot juice consumption and the reduction of hytertension. More research is needed on the exciting new benefits of this well known vegetable.

Caryn Zinn PhD. NZ registered Dietitian; AUT Senior Lecturer.  Source: Nutrition Foundation Dec 2013 Newsletter

Go to the home page of to look for recipes that feature beetroot - the beetroot and carrot juice recipe shown above can be found here, and find out more about beetroot on the Beetroot select a vegetable page.

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