Beets: those deep crimson, dark purple, bleeding root vegetables are an unlikely hero in the world of running. Runners have long touted the benefits of beets, citing anecdotal evidence of their miraculous race times and fresh legs after chugging beet juice. But these stories aren’t placebo: science has concretely shown some incredible outcomes of beet compounds on running.
What in this veggie seems to give athletes superpowers? The main factors are nitrates, found in many dark, leafy greens. When ingested, we convert nitrates into nitric oxide, which supercharges out muscle cells and blood vessels. More nitric oxide means higher muscle efficiency, higher muscle efficiency means more efficient blood flow, and all of that together means faster times. In essence, the nitrates in beets directly improves cardiorespiratory endurance-- breathing and heart rate-- by decreasing the amount of oxygen we need to perform a task.
With this in mind, let’s cook up something delicious, incorporating beets. Here’s a simple roasted beet recipe that lets natural flavors shine.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Serves: 6
- 3 organic beets peeled & diced (about 3 cups)*
- 1 tbs olive oil
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbs honey (pure maple syrup for a vegan version)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grease a large baking sheet or dish, set aside.
- Peel and cut 3 beets into 1” cubes.
- Toss beets with 1 TBS olive oil and ½ tsp sea salt.
- Spread onto a greased baking dish in an even layer.
- Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.
- After 15-20 minutes, stir and bake for 10 minutes more or until beets feel soft to the touch.
- Mix together balsamic vinegar and honey.
- After 30 minutes (or when beets are soft to the touch), remove beets from the oven and add the honey/vinegar mixture to the baking dish.
- Stir until all the beets are evenly coated.
- Return to the oven for 10 minutes, stirring once half way through.
- Roast until the balsamic/honey mixture coats the beets (and isn’t runny).
- Remove from the oven and serve warm or store and serve later over your favorite salads.