Beetroot Juice in glass with mint leaf

How beet juice is the key to muscle strength

In July we reported in this column that beet juice builds endurance and this is something that has been supported by lots of other studies as well. It all comes down the to the nitrate contained in beets that opens blood vessels and supports muscle activity by improved blood flow. Now a new study suggests that beet is also increasing muscle strength.

The study involved patients with heart failure. In these people the heart cannot pump effectively enough and this leads to a range of other problems including diabetes and general muscle weakness. The researchers wanted to see if beet juice might improve muscle strength in these people.

According to the researchers the improvements in muscle strength afforded by beet juice are equivalent to that which would come from three months of resistance training.

Each subject took part in two trials. One trial involved exercising after having normal bet juice. The other trial involved exercising but this time after having beet juice with the nitrate removed. The trials took place two weeks apart and neither the subjects nor the researchers knew which drink they were having on each occasion (until after the trials).

The results showed that normal beet juice caused an increase in strength of muscles below the knees of an average 13 per cent just two hours after taking the juice. There were no major side-effects and no increases in heart rate or drops in blood pressure (which is important in people with heart failure). The improvement in muscle strength was significant in quick power-based exercises but not present in longer tests that measure muscle fatigue.

According to the researchers the improvements in muscle strength afforded by beet juice are equivalent to that which would come from three months of resistance training.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise, but it does mean that everyone from elite athletes to people with heart failure will benefit from beets.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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