Beetroot helps muscles recover after intense exercise, according to new research by the University of Northumbria.
Red beetroot is a rich source of nitrate and phenolic acids, and also contains a group of bioactive pigments called betalains, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
To test the hypothesis (that beetroot supplementation might facilitate recovery following strenuous exercise) the researchers recruited 30 men between the ages of 18 and 28, who work out at least twice a week, to do 100 intensive jump exercises, which caused muscle damage in their legs.
For three days the men drank either 250ml of beetroot juice, 125ml or a placebo drink which had the same calorie and carbohydrate content.
Beetroot juice facilitated a faster recovery of jump height performance in the group that drink 250ml, and reduced muscle soreness in both groups.
Markers of inflammation and skeletal muscle damage were unaffected by beetroot juice and so further research is required to work out the potential mechanisms involved in recovery.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Tom Clifford, says it could be a useful supplement for those with little time between exercise sessions: ‘Three days of consuming the higher beetroot juice dose enhanced participants’ recovery. Those in the beetroot juice group jumped an average of 18 per cent higher than those in the placebo group two days after completing the exercise bout.’