Beta Vulgaris, also known as beetroot, garden beet or table beet is a dark red vegetable and is an excellent source of folate and a good source of manganese , and contains betaines  which may function to reduce the concentration of homocysteine. Its consumption has been linked with better stamina, improved blood flood and lower blood pressure.
Beetroot Extract (Rich in Nitrates) for Improved Exercise
Dietary nitrate has recently emerged as a potential modulator of muscle energy metabolism via improved mitochondrial efficiency [3,4] and as a possible ‘‘natural’’ ergogenic aid to exercise performance [5,6,7]. However, it has also been linked to adverse health effects, except when consumed in the form of vegetables .
A double-blind placebo-controlled crossover trial performed in 2010 by Murphy et al.  reported that consumption of nitrate-rich, whole beetroot improves running performance in healthy adults. Participants underwent two 5 km treadmill time trials, 75 minutes after consuming baked beetroot (200 g with ≥500 mg nitrate). Beetroot consumption tended to increase running velocity during the 5 km run especially during the last 1.1 miles where running velocity was 5% faster.
Pic. 1 – Beetroots (beta vulgaris) and beetroot juice.
Bond et al.  have also reported that nitrate supplementation in the form of beetroot juice (500 ml daily for 6 days) resulted in improved repeated high-intensity rowing performance. High dose of nitrate-rich beetroot juice, consumed 2 h before exercise, moderately but insignificantly improved 2,000m rowing performance in highly trained athletes .
It is suggested that enhanced exercise efficiency is likely to be mediated through the metabolic conversion of inorganic nitrate to bioactive nitrite and, subsequently, nitric oxide .
Beetroot for Lower Blood Pressure
Nitrates have also been suggested to modulate resting blood pressure . Lansley and assistants  have demonstrated that beetroot juice (500 ml/day for 6 days which is rich in nitrates) decreases resting systolic blood pressure and O2 consumption during walking and running. Significant changes in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure were also noted by Webb et al.  after nitrate supplementation. Kapil and associated  demonstrated a dose-dependent decrease in blood pressure and vasoprotection after inorganic nitrate ingestion in the form of either supplementation or by dietary elevation (in the form of beetroot juice). However, no significant differences in systolic blood pressure were evident in Bond et al.  study in well-trained junior male rowers.
Possible Side Effects and Precautions
Drinking too much beetroot juice causes urine to turn reddish pink which can be mistaken for blood in the urine. Beetroot is also rich with oxalates  which prevents calcium from being absorbed by the body [13,14] allowing the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones .
- Nutrition Facts – “Beets, raw” Retrieved 10. Dec 2013
Cromwell, B. T., and S. D. Rennie. “The biosynthesis and metabolism of betaines in plants. 1. The estimation and distribution of glycinebetaine (betaine) in Beta vulgaris L. and other plants.” Biochemical Journal 55.1 (1953): 189.
Bailey, Stephen J., et al. “Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans.” Journal of Applied Physiology 107.4 (2009): 1144-1155.
Larsen, Filip J., et al. “Dietary inorganic nitrate improves mitochondrial efficiency in humans.” Cell metabolism 13.2 (2011): 149-159.
Bailey, Stephen J., et al. “Dietary nitrate supplementation enhances muscle contractile efficiency during knee-extensor exercise in humans.” Journal of Applied Physiology 109.1 (2010): 135-148.
- Lansley, Katherine E., et al. “Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of walking and running: a placebo-controlled study.” Journal of applied physiology 110.3 (2011): 591-600.
Murphy, Margaret, et al. “Whole beetroot consumption acutely improves running performance.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 112.4 (2012): 548-552.
Bond, Hannah, Lillian Morton, and Andrea J. Braakhuis. “Dietary nitrate supplementation improves rowing performance in well-trained rowers.” Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 22.4 (2012): 251-6.
Lansley, Katherine E., et al. “Acute dietary nitrate supplementation improves cycling time trial performance.” Med Sci Sports Exerc 43.6 (2011): 1125-1131.
- Webb, Andrew J., et al. “Acute blood pressure lowering, vasoprotective, and antiplatelet properties of dietary nitrate via bioconversion to nitrite.” Hypertension 51.3 (2008): 784-790.
Kapil, Vikas, et al. “Inorganic nitrate supplementation lowers blood pressure in humans role for nitrite-derived NO.” Hypertension 56.2 (2010): 274-281.
Finch, A. M., G. P. Kasidas, and G. A. Rose. “Urine composition in normal subjects after oral ingestion of oxalate-rich foods.” Clin Sci (Lond) 60.4 (1981): 411-418.
Weaver, Connie M., et al. “Oxalic acid decreases calcium absorption in rats.” The Journal of nutrition 117.11 (1987): 1903-1906.
Massey, Linda K., Helen Roman-Smith, and Roger AL Sutton. “Effect of dietary oxalate and calcium on urinary oxalate and risk of formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 93.8 (1993): 901-906.
Hoon, M. W., et al. “The Effect of Variable Doses of Inorganic Nitrate-Rich Beetroot Juice on Simulated 2,000 m Rowing Performance in Trained Athletes.” International journal of sports physiology and performance (2013).