Last summer many of team GB attributed their successful performances to taking beta vulgaris, otherwise known as beetroot. Rich in potassium, antioxidants and folic acid, beetroot is linked to many health and exercise performance benefits including lowering blood pressure, enhancing stamina and improving performance during long duration high-intensity bouts of exercise.
The effectiveness of beetroot in enhancing performance is mostly down to the nitrates in the soil from which the beetroot is grown. This converts into nitrite within the body and then into nitric oxide which is known to widen blood vessels, increase blood flow and reduce oxygen required by the muscles during exercise so making us more efficient during long bouts of physical activity.
One of the best ways to reap the benefits of beetroot is by taking shots (7cl) of concentrated beetroot juice.
Ferreira LF, Behnke BJ, A Toast to Health and Performance! Beetroot Juice Lowers Blood Pressure and the O₂ Cost of Exercise, Journal of Applied Physiology, 2011, 110(3):585-6.
Larsen FJ, Weitzberg E, Lundberg JO, Ekblom B, Dietary Nitrate Reduces Maximal Oxygen Consumption while Maintaining Work Performance in Maximal Exercise, Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 2010, 48(2):342-7.