I actually love beets. We grow our own and can them and freeze the tops for greens.
By Ashleigh Libs | Aug. 14, 2017, 6:50 p.m. (ET)
Beets are a root vegetable (think carrots, onions, garlic, etc.) because they grow underground and absorb their nutrients from the soil. This powerhouse vegetable is a great source of many vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, folate, manganese and potassium. Additionally, beets have many antioxidants, which means they have tremendous anti-inflammatory properties.
But why are they the new trend for endurance athletes, you may ask? Beets also naturally contain nitrates, which are ultimately converted to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide improves multiple body functions that can increase endurance performance such as improved blood flow to working muscles, muscle contractions and neurotransmission to name a few. In some research studies, increased availability of nitric oxide through supplementation has translated to improved performance standards including: 1) increased time to exhaustion, 2) improved time trial performance, and 3) decreased cost of work when performing, which means you can finish the race or workout feeling less fatigued.
As an Indiana transplant to the beautiful state of Utah, this summer has been a constant reminder that yes, I am now in the desert. What better way to cool off and refuel after a long training session or event than with a cold, creamy smoothie … with beets in it? You read that right. Beets can be added to a smoothie just like any other fruit or vegetable. It yields a bright pink or purple color just like berries! Check out the two recipes below and receive the great benefits of this root vegetable to keep you moving all summer long.
Cherry Beet Recovery Smoothie
from Rabbit Food Runner
Ingredients 1/2 cup frozen tart cherries
1/2 cup raw or frozen, peeled and chopped red beets (~1 medium)
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 frozen banana
1 cup spinach
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (or 1 inch fresh)
3 tablespoons raw cashews
1 scoop protein powder (*optional)
1/2 cup water or milk of choice
Beet + Berry Smoothie Bowls
from With Food and Love
Serves: 2 small portions or 1 large
Ingredients 1 cup frozen or fresh berries
1/2 cup raw red beets, diced
1/4 cup ground flax
2 handfuls greens
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other milk of choice)
May garnish with honey, more berries, chia seeds, etc.
Ashleigh Libs is currently a master’s student in nutrition with a sports concentration at the University of Utah. She received her bachelor’s degree in dietetics, with a minor in psychology, from the University of Dayton (Ohio). She has experience working with the University of Louisville’s football team and the University of Dayton’s soccer, women’s volleyball and baseball teams. Her goal is to help people/athletes discover what works for them nutritionally to reach their performance goals. You can get in touch with Ashleigh by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.