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Beetroot Good for Football Players, Heart Patients Too, says New Study

It is well-known that beetroot is good for patients with heart disease and now a study shows that it is also good for football players to enhance their athletic performance with increased blood flow.

David Poole, professor of physiology at Kansas State University, and his team of researchers said their study proved that the beetroot juice may benefit football players by preferentially increasing blood flow to fast-twitch muscle fibres – the ones helpful for explosive running.

In addition to improving athletic performance, the research also found that beetroot juice can improve the quality of life for heart failure patients. Poole has been conducting research on beetroot for some time and known for his past research that showed the nitrate in beetroot concentrate increases blood flow to skeletal muscles during exercise.

The new study, published in the Journal of Nitric Oxide, Biology and Chemistry, lists the benefits of beetroot due to the concentration of nitrate in it. It found one 70-ml bottle of beetroot juice has same nitrate concentration as is found in 100 grams of spinach.

“When consumed, nitrate is reduced in the mouth by bacteria into nitrite,” said Scott Ferguson, Poole’s doctoral student.  “The nitrite is swallowed again and then reduced to nitric oxide, which is a potent vasodilator. The nitric oxide dilates the blood vessels, similar to turning on a water faucet, and allows blood to go where it needs to go,” said Ferguson.

When consumed, the beetroot juice helped increase blood flow by 38% to the skeletal muscles during exercise and was beneficial to the less-oxygenated, fast-twitch muscles, they said.

“Heart failure is a disease where oxygen delivery to particular tissues, especially working skeletal muscles, is impaired, decreasing the capacity to move the arms or legs and be physically active… The best therapy for these patients is getting up and moving around. However, that is often difficult. Increasing the oxygen delivery to these muscles through beetroot can provide a therapeutic avenue to improve the quality of life for these patients,” Poole said.

Otherwise, being alkaline, beetroot juice helps to ward off acidosis and it also helps clean blood, treat anemia with its rich foliates to build red blood cells.

Beetroot is also high in fiber, potassium, magnesium, niacin, iron and biotin. It is also rich with betalain that provides anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Beetroot juice contains lutein and zexanthin, which help prevent mascular degeneration. It is highly recommended in Ayurveda as medicine for liver problems and to increase female reproductivity.

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