Workout Superfoods: Beetroot and Watercress 'Boost Sports Performance'

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With the bikini season about to kick-off, many of us will make a mental note to embark on a fitness plan that will get our legs, arms and tums ready for when we begin to shed the winter layers (gulp).

But if you want to boost your fitness levels while you’re at it, one group reckons they’ve discovered a superfood that’ll help you do just this – the humble beetroot.

Researchers from St Louis University in the US claim that the purple root vegetable contains a huge amount of nitrate, the chemical that is essential for rejuvenating sluggish muscles and improving exercise performance.

During the study, researchers asked a handful of volunteers to run 5km on a treadmill, half an hour after eating a portion of baked beetroot.

After the participants completed the first run, they were then asked to chomp on cranberry relish that contains the same amount of calories but less nitrate.

Researchers discovered that the runners who ate baked beetroot before their run, averaged a speed of 12.3km per hour compared to 11.9km per hour after they ate the cranberry relish.

Overall, runners were able to maintain their speed and run for longer after scoffing beetroot. Scientists believe this could be down to the nitrate’s ability to widen blood vessels, which improves oxygen supply to the muscles.

But before you go and slice up a beetroot, another study has discovered a fellow workout superfood that boasts exercise super power..

Scottish scientists from Edinburgh Napier University discovered that peppery-tasting watercress has vital nutrients that can help people run faster for longer.

Researchers believe that watercress helps restore energy levels and relieve the natural stress on our body following a workout.

“Although we are all aware of how good exercise can be for our bodies, pounding the treadmill, lifting weights, or doing high-levels of training can take its toll,” Dr Mark Fogarty said in a statement.

“What we’ve found is that consuming a relatively small amount of watercress each day can help raise the levels of important antioxidant vitamins which may help protect our bodies, and allow us to enjoy the rewards of keeping fit.”

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