Tag Archives: ingredient news

Ingredient Spotlight: Benefits of Beetroot Juice

27 Dec

A Nutra-Ingredients article has recently reported the findings of a study of nitrate-rich beetroot juice; in a study using trained female runners, it was determined that drinking the juice for four days leading up to a running time-trial could greatly improve the runner’s performance.

As little as 140 milliliters per day of beetroot juice proved beneficial for systolic blood pressure and, in turn, a runner’s 5-kilometer performance, as determined by scientists at Sheffield Hallam University.

“Although not statistically significant,” they wrote, “these results suggest beetroot juice supplementation improved 5-km time trial performance over PLA by 31 s (2.4%). Athletes should consider ingesting beetroot juice to improve 5-km running performance.”

The study of beetroot juice and its potential nutritional and cardiovascular benefits has gained momentum in recent years, especially in the United Kingdom. In past studies, scientists from the University of Exeter (U.K.) found that beetroot juice could help individuals increase stamina and exercise for as much as 16% longer; scientists at the University of Maastricht have noted similar improvements in performance among cyclists. Publications in the Journal of Applied Psychology have suggested that the juice’s nitrate content, which helps reduce oxygen uptake, may be responsible for easing [quite effectively] the “tiring effect” of exercising.

That particular study was led by Professor Andy Jones, who offered a brief summary: “Our study is the first to show that nitrate-rich food can increase exercise endurance. We were amazed by the effects of beetroot juice on oxygen uptake because these effects cannot be achieved by any other known means, including training.”

In the new study, led by Robyn Lancely and her co-workers, a double-blind “crossover design” with repeated measures a two-week washout period was used to determine whether supplementation of beetroot juice would affect 5-km running time-trial performance.

Eleven trained female runners with an average age of 20 were assigned to receive 140 mL of the juice per day, as compared to no supplementation and a placebo. While there were no major differences in systolic blood pressure among the groups, the researchers identified a trend toward reductions following consumption of the juice; those who consumed it had an average value of 114 mmHg, compared to 122 mmHg for the control intervention and 120 mmHg for the placebo intervention.

“One km split times were similar between conditions except for the 2nd km where beetroot juice was faster than control by 16 seconds and placebo by 12 seconds.”



Sugar Substitute’s Link to Parkinson’s

25 Jun

Researchers from the University of Tel Aviv, Israel, have found a connection between the use of mannitol sweetener and a decrease in the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Led by Professors Daniel Segal and Ehud Gazit, the research team discovered that the artificial sweetener prevents the forming of masses of alpha-synuclein proteins – associated with Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative brain diseases – in the brain.

For the study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the scientists initially analyzed the formation of alpha-synuclein clumps and their structural characteristics and after that, they started searching for compounds that would inhibit this development. They started testing the mannitol on the living brains of fruit flies, genetically engineered to carry human alpha-synuclein genes.

The research team tested the flies’ locomotive capabilities by assessing their ability to climb the walls of a test tube. Initially, only 38% of the flies carrying the human genes were able to climb up the test tube, compared to 72% of the control group of flies. For 27 days, the scientists supplemented with mannitol the food served to the genetically altered flies and at the end of the experiment, 70% of the gene-carrying flies were able to climb up the test tube. Further splitting the mutated flies into two groups – some fed with mannitol and some not – the research team discovered that there was a 70% decrease in the total masses of alpha-synuclein in the flies fed with mannitol.

To confirm the results, the two professors leading the study performed another experiment, on mice genetically engineered to produce alpha-synuclein proteins. Again, the scientist discovered that after four months, the mice fed with mannitol had significantly less alpha-synuclein proteins in their brains. Daniel Segal, one of the leading professors, expressed his enthusiasm concerning the artificial sweetener and its possible future implementations of reducing the risk or even treating Parkinson’s disease and noted that the compound has been approved already for use in clinical interventions and for use in a selection of foods.