What brings this up is recent research by a group over in England at University of Exeter. It seems that beetroot juice leads to an enhanced ability to exercise. They claim that it boosts your stamina and could help you exercise for up to 16% longer by reducing oxygen uptake.
What's the downside, you ask? Well, the treatment isn't topical, it's internal. Yes, you have to drink the beet juice. Ickkers!
Maybe this is a British thing. Eat mutton and drink beet roots. Cover everything with mashed potatoes and hope for the best. Shepard's pie and beet juice. What could be better?
Here's the central core of the research study:
The research team conducted their study with eight men aged between 19 and 38. They were given 500ml per day of organic beetroot juice for six consecutive days before completing a series of tests, involving cycling on an exercise bike. On another occasion, they were given a placebo of blackcurrant cordial for six consecutive days before completing the same cycling tests.
After drinking beetroot juice the group was able to cycle for an average of 11.25 minutes, which is 92 seconds longer than when they were given the placebo. This would translate into an approximate 2% reduction in the time taken to cover a set distance. The group that had consumed the beetroot juice also had lower resting blood pressure.
The study was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. There was another British study, around a year and a half ago, which found that beetroot juice reduces blood pressure (Feb 2008, Hypertension) so maybe this is something they commonly drink over there. Frankly, any group of people that can drink warm beer can drink anything. I'm not so sure if beetroot juice would fly on this side of the Atlantic.
If, for some twisted reason, you decide you might want to try drinking beet juice, here's a web site that lists the health benefits of beet juice as well as some cautionary advice plus lists the vitamins and minerals contained within. It doesn't mention juice from beet roots though.