77ºF

Research touts benefits of beetroot juice

British middle distance runner Colin McCourt poses for photographs with a cup of beetroot juice at St Mary's University College in Twickenham, south-west London in 2010. Some experts say adding beetroot juice to your diet, like other foods such as cherry juice or milk, could give you a performance boost even beyond the blood, sweat and tears of more training.
British middle distance runner Colin McCourt poses for photographs with a cup of beetroot juice at St Mary's University College in Twickenham, south-west London in 2010. Some experts say adding beetroot juice to your diet, like other foods such as cherry juice or milk, could give you a performance boost even beyond the blood, sweat and tears of more training. (AP Photo/Akira Suemori)

Football teams claim it improves their athletic performance. And new research finds it can help heart failure patients.

What is it? Beetroot juice.

"It turns out the juice resulted in a 38 percent higher blood flow to the skeletal muscle during exercise," said Scott Ferguson, a Kansas State University researcher.

According to new research from KSU, beetroot juice can improve athletic performance and quality of life.

It contains nitrate, which increases blood flow to muscles that don't have much oxygen.

That could mean more speed for athletes – but it also means more movement for people with heart failure.

"But remember for every one football player in the NFL, there are probably 100,000 heart failure patients, people living with heart failure that would benefit from this therapy in the United State," said Dr. David Poole, a KSU exercise physiologist. "And it's a big deal because if you can only increase oxygen delivery by 10 percent, that can be the difference between a patient being wheelchair-bound and getting up and walking around and interacting with the family."

The research is currently undergoing clinical trials.