Drumming up the energy needed to complete a workout or go for a jog can be tricky if you don’t have the right food to hand. Sometimes a piece of wholemeal toast or chocolate bar just doesn’t cut it.

But research has now suggested that munching on beetroot could give gym fans a quick boost and help enhance their performance.
A study carried at St Louis University in the US revealed that athletes ran a distance of five kilometres faster after eating the red root vegetable compared to when they snacked on cranberries.

Scientists said the reason behind this energy hike could be that beetroot is packed full of nitrates, which are known for their ability to increase exercise performance.

Lead author Margaret Murphy wrote in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics journal: "Consumption of nitrate-rich whole beetroot improves running performance in healthy adults.

"Because whole vegetables have been shown to have health benefits, whereas nitrates from other sources may have detrimental health effects, it would be prudent for individuals seeking performance benefits to obtain nitrates from whole vegetables, such as beetroot."

It is not the first time beetroot has been championed as an essential part of a healthy living diet, with studies in the past showing that beetroot juice can lower blood pressure within 24 hours by raising the levels of nitric oxide in the circulation.

Author of a 2010 UK study Professor Amrita Ahluwalia commented: "We also found that only a small amount of juice is needed - just 250ml - to have this effect, and that the higher the blood pressure at the start of the study the greater the decrease caused by the nitrate."

Other herbal supplements and products said to have a positive effect on health are flax seed oil, which contains compounds that regulate blood pressure, clotting and heart rate, and ginko biloba, which is believed to help support the blood circulation around the body.

Posted by Matilda Jones