Juice of common vegetable may increase muscle power during exercise, study suggests

Researchers have found that consuming dietary nitrate – the active molecule in beetroot juice – can increase muscle force while exercising, an advance that may lead to better

workout supplements. While previous studies have shown that dietary nitrate enhances exercise, it has remained unclear how the body converts this molecule into the chemical

nitric oxide to be used by our cells. In the new study, published earlier this month in the journal Acta Physiologica, scientists traced the distribution of ingested nitrate

in the saliva, blood, muscle, and urine of ten healthy volunteers who performed leg exercises. Scientists probed where in the body the dietary nitrate molecules were active

to understand better the mechanisms in play. During the workout, which included 60 thigh muscle contractions at maximum intensity for over five minutes, researchers found a

significant increase in the nitrate levels in the quadriceps muscle. They say the nitrate boost led to an increase in muscle force of about seven per cent, compared to when

participants took a placebo. “Our research has already provided a large body of evidence on the performance-enhancing properties of dietary nitrate, commonly found in

beetroot juice,” said study co-author Andy Jones from the University of Exeter in the UK. “Excitingly, this latest study provides the best evidence to date on the mechanisms

behind why dietary nitrate improves human muscle performance,” Dr Jones added. Earlier studies had discovered an increase of nitrate in tissue and body fluid after ingesting

labeled dietary nitrate.