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Beetroot Pros and Cons

The new research adds to accumulating data about the effect of beetroot on exercise performance, says Daniel Kim-Shapiro, PhD, professor of physics at Wake Forest University. He is an expert on nitric oxide and has found that drinking beet juice boosts blood flow to the brain in older people.

He reviewed the data but was not involved in the study.

''Data is just beginning to emerge that actual exercise performance is enhanced," he says.

He offers some caveats. Eating nitrate in the form of beet juice or the vegetable instead of supplements ''is probably safest," he says. He warns exercisers not to confuse nitrate from foods with nitrite salt, sold over the Internet and potentially hazardous.

Moderation is key, Kim-Shapiro says. He has heard of exercisers drinking beet juice to boost performance and then getting sick to their stomachs during exercise.

Kim-Shapiro reports being a co-author on a patent application on the use of nitrite salts for heart disease and receiving royalties from the licensing of the application.

This study was presented at a medical conference. The findings should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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