Whether you’re a serious athlete — or simply looking to make workouts easier — new research suggests beets might boost your stamina. British scientists tested several male subjects on exercise-bike performance after drinking two cups of beet juice. Beets improved endurance, enabling the bikers to cycle a minute and a half longer at high intensity. Why? It seems the body converts beet nitrates to nitric oxide, which facilitates blood flow improving aerobic efficiency by nearly 20%.

Previous research had demonstrated beet benefits for the heart — both in terms of lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Specifically, the beet antioxidant betanin helps check LDL “bad” cholesterol. Beets also contain folate and manganese, with a mere 37 calories per half cup.

What else to eat for your workout routine? Raisins deliver superior nutrition and equivalent energy compared to expensive sports gels. Pineapple and cherries contain compounds that help maintain healthy joints. Bananas can help you avoid muscle cramps. 

Published September 1, 2009