Eating beetroot can make you run faster, a study has found.
The purple vegetable was found to boost sprint times over 20 meters by 2 per cent.
While this may not sound much it is enough to give people an advantage in sports.
It may also be of use to old people who need to get a boost to get up the stairs, or run for the bus, researchers said.
The key to beetroot’s effect is nitrates, which increase the energy available to muscle cells.
In the study, one group were given beetroot juice, while the other were given beetroot juice that had the nitrate content taken out.
The two juices tasted the same, but those who drank the beetroot juice with the nitrate left in ran much faster.
Andrew Jones from the University of Exeter said the study was the first to look at the effect of nitrates on ‘explosive’ exercise such as sprinting.
‘We’ve been looking at the influence of dietary nitrate on human health and performance for quite a few years.
‘The focus has been on endurance, activities such as long distance running, and it seems to make the muscle more efficient.
‘This is the first to look at much shorter duration activities.