I often recommend the use of various functional foods in athletes diets and two of my favourite are beetroot and tart cherry. There is some decent evidence that beetroot and dietary nitrates can improve exercise tolerance and performance and that tart cherry can assist with recovery. Using foods to enhance these outcomes is a great option as it can steer one away from the often murky world of supplements.
Recommending these options is one thing but putting them into practice is another. In South Africa we don’t have too many easy choices to include these two foods. I recently came across two products that might help fill the void.
Regular readers will know about the benefits of beetroot and dietary nitrates which you can read a little more about here here and here. To sum up the possible application of beetroot juice you can refer to this review paper by Andy Jones or the below infographic from Yann le Meur on the mentioned paper.
- May improve exercise tolerance and performance
- Notable in short duration events lasting 5-30 minutes including intermittent type sports
- May improve cardiovascular function and decrease blood pressure
- Can be used in a loading routine leading up to events or acutely immediately before an event
Tart cherry juice is starting to emerge as a functional food that can aid recovery by reducing muscle pain, mitigating excess post-exercise inflammation and decreasing immunosupression. Much of this is due to the high level of anthocyanin and quercetin, two naturally occurring antioxidants.
- May be beneficial for reducing muscle pain, inflammation, muscle damage and oxidative stress
- May also benefit sleep, arthritis and gout
The two products I have in stock at the moment are concentrated shots of beetroot and tart cherry that can be added to water or other workout drinks as needed. BeetActive contains the equivalent of about 4 beetroot providing 229 mg of dietary nitrate and 25 g of carbohydrate. CherryActive contains the concentrated juice of around 100 Montmorency Cherries providing a high dose of antioxidants and 25 g of carbohydrate. Both are natural products, pure juice concentrate without any added extras. CherryActive concentrate is also part of the Informed Choice testing programme. The easy tear sachets make them easy to use and practical delivering the desired dose of active compound with each serving. They are available from us on request.