Beetroot juice can improve your puff, potentially benefiting swimmers, singers, and mountaineers, research has shown.

In tests, drinking a single shot of the red juice allowed trained divers to hold their breath 11% longer.

Beetroot is known to boost levels of nitric oxide in the body, causing muscles to work more efficiently and demand less oxygen.

Previous research has shown that beetroot juice increases physical stamina.

Find out how beetroot helps boost sports performance

Concentrated beetroot shots are already used by top-level British athletes, including marathon runner Helen Decker and butterfly swimming champion Ian Hulme.

The new research was conducted by Swedish scientists on 12 healthy volunteers who were trained in breath-hold diving.

In the tests, the nine men and three women were either given a 70 millilitre shot of beetroot juice or an inactive placebo drink.

They were then asked to hold their breath after having a clip placed on their nose.

After drinking the beetroot, the volunteers were able to hold their breath for an average four minutes and 38 seconds. They managed four minutes 10 seconds after drinking the placebo - a difference of more than 11%.

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The results appear in the journal Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology.

Dr Harald Engan, who led the experiment, said: "Apparently by enabling the body to reduce oxygen consumption, drinking concentrated beetroot juice has delivered significant extension of breath holding time.

"We are currently experimenting on if this may also be able to help climbers at high altitude and hope to report on the results soon."

Beetroot juice could also help opera singers and woodwind and brass instrument players, who often need to hold their breath for long periods, the researchers believe.

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